Freshfields acts for Ashley on Newcastle United bid

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has scored another key role on the latest Premiership football takeover, advising sportswear entrepreneur Mike Ashley on his daring £133.1m cash bid for Newcastle United FC.

Freshfields has grabbed roles on three recent deals for major English football clubs. It advised Manchester United on the Glazer family takeover in 2005 and Dubai International Capital (DIC) on its failed approach for Liverpool in late 2006.

Ashley has offered 100p per share for the club after agreeing to buy out its largest shareholder and club president Sir John Hall, the owner of a 41.6 per cent stake, who is being advised by Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS).

Freshfields, under corporate partner Chris Mort, has cemented its relationship with Ashley. The firm advised Ashley’s company Sports Direct International, which owns the Sports World, Sports Direct, Original Shoe Company and Lilywhites brands, on its February flotation.

On the other side, DWS, led by corporate partner Jeremy Cohen, is advising three companies owned by Hall – Wynard, Cameron Hall Developments and Cameron Hall Developments Limited Executive Pension Scheme on the sale of the stake. Ashley must now bid for the remaining shares as the offer is conditional on him garnering a 50 per cent stake.

Ashurst was gifted a role by the financial advisers to Ashley’s vehicle, Kaupthing Singer Friedlander. Kaupthing instructed the firm directly, corporate partner Robert Ogilvy Watson told The Lawyer.

Pinsent Masons is advising the board of directors of Newcastle United on its responsibilities in terms of the board’s response to the offer. Corporate partner Martin Shaw is leading the Pinsent Masons team.