Charter One deal secures Linklaters’ position at RBS

Linklaters has firmly demonstrated that it, rather than Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, is the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) first-choice plc-level adviser by closing the substantial UK elements of the bank’s latest US expansion.

RBS, advised by Linklaters, closed a London-based fundraising and the £5.8bn takeover of US bank Charter One Financial earlier this month.

RBS had used Freshfields as board-level adviser since the firm acted on its remarkable reverse takeover of NatWest in 2000, but switched to Linklaters for its UK buy of Churchill last June.

Following a souring of relations with the bank’s chief executive, Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin, it is understood that Freshfields was replaced as primary corporate adviser last year.

After a successful rearguard action, Freshfields salvaged a place on RBS’s 2003 panel review. The firm’s finance department in particular still gets a significant tranche of the RBS’s transactional work, while the bank’s own account instructions have gone to Linklaters.

A major part of Linklaters’ work on the Charter One deal related to RBS’s £2.75bn placing on the London Stock Exchange, one of the UK’s largest-ever accelerated new share offerings.

The deal was led on the corporate side by partner Matthew Middleditch, but Linklaters’ RBS relationship partner is banking and insolvency lawyer Robert Elliott, who was instrumental in the firm’s bid to capture the bank.

RBS is using Davis Polk & Wardwell and Boston-based Goodwin Proctor for US advice. Charter One is advised by Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz.

Linklaters and Freshfields declined to comment.