Freshfields and HSF advise on Liberty Global’s £481m stake in ITV

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills have advised on the sale of British Sky Broadcasting’s (BSkyB) minority stake in ITV to Liberty Global.

Acquisitional cable company Liberty Global picked up the 6.4 per cent stake for £481m. Despite insisting that it does not intend to make a takeover bid for the UK broadcaster, the move has fuelled speculation that the US giant may be eyeing a larger slice of ITV.

Freshfields advised Liberty Global on the deal, led by London managing partner and former corporate chief Julian Long and corporate partner David Sonter.

Meanwhile, Herbert Smith Freehills was instructed by BSkyB fielding global M&A chief Stephen Wilkinson, with M&A partner Malcolm Lombers and corporate partner Charles Howarth.

Background to this deal:

Freshfields has a close relationship with Liberty Global, advising on the acquisition of Hollyoaks and Midsomer Murders production company All3Media, which it picked up in a joint venture with Discovery Communications earlier this year. Corporate partner David Sonter also led for the magic circle firm on that previous deal, on which All3Media turned to Shearman & Sterling (14 May 2013).

Liberty Global also has ties with Allen & Overy, which it instructed to work on its acquisition of Dutch cable company Ziggo in January (30 January 2014). On that deal, Freshfields advised the target which it helped through its IPO a few years earlier.

Herbert Smith Freehills is BSkyB’s longstanding adviser, last year advising on its acquisition of Telefonica UK’s fixed-line telephony business led by Wilkinson.