Deals comment

Dubai Ports World sukuk funds P&O offer

It was fortunate for Dubai Ports World – and its legal advisers – that the landmark sukuk it launched last month was oversubscribed. The Dubai-based container terminal operator had planned to raise around $2.5bn (£1.41bn), but such was the demand for the bond issue that it was able to issue an extra $1bn (£564m) of notes, taking the bond to $3.5bn (£1.97bn) and making it the world’s largest single sukuk. The extra financing helped to keep Dubai Ports World in the battle to take over UK ferry company P&O. Dubai Ports World, advised by Clifford Chance banking partner Mark Campbell (pictured) and Linklaters corporate partners David Cheyne and Jeremy Parr, was trumped on its original bid for P&O by Singapore outfit PSA. PSA, advised by a Slaughter and May team led by partner Stephen Cooke, offered 470p a share, outbidding Dubai Ports World’s original 433p offer, which, thanks to the extra funding from the bond, it was able to raise to 520p and so move back into pole position.

Ashurst takes on Debenhams flotation work
Ashurst is in line to secure a major advisory role on the flotation of Debenhams, which is set to go ahead as early as April and could value the department store chain at around £3bn. The silver circle firm is understood to be advising underwriters Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, which have been chosen as global coordinators for the IPO. The deal is a significant coup for Ashurst, which has not traditionally acted for financial advisers on IPOs. Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston will be bookrunners on the flotation. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is understood to have scooped an instruction from Debenhams on the planned flotation. The magic circle firm has represented Debenhams on its corporate deals since 2003, when it acted for a buyout consortium on its successful £1.74bn takeover of the department store.