Gibson Dunn in £310m property buy

The London office of US firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has started the year in fine style by completing a massive property acquisition for a private overseas client.
The £310m total purchase comprised two deals joined through common funding arrangements. The vendors were PMB Holdings and the Royal London Mutual Insurance Society. Property finance partner Alan Samson led the Gibson Dunn team in acquiring and financing the combined portfolio of 44 investment properties.
Samson outsourced due diligence work in relation to the Royal London portfolio to his former firm, Nabarro Nathanson. Samson said that given the relatively limited fee-earning resources dedicated to property work at Gibson Dunn, the referral arrangement benefited both firms. His team retained all work related to negotiating and financing the acquisition. The firm additionally had to deliver corporate and tax advice.
Samson said: “Given that we were only retained at the end of November, we're thrilled to have been able to put this large and complex deal to bed in such a short space of time.”
He added that the deal was a boost for the reputation of a small but growing property group in London, particularly as the undisclosed client was not from the US. The six-partner property group has conducted deals to the tune of £1.5bn in the past year.
Time pressure was the main challenge in completing the deal. As both portions of the transaction were funded through the same lenders, two acquisitions were effectively being negotiated simultaneously.
Bayerische Landesbank Giro-zentrale and Norwich Union Mortgage Finance provided the loan for the transaction. They were represented by Denton Wilde Sapte partners Debbie Carslaw and Mark Menhennet, and a combination of in-house advisers and Herbert Smith partner Peter Long, respectively.
Adding to the legal quotient, the two vendors retained a total of four law firms and in-house counsel. Boodle Hatfield acted for PMB, while Speechly Bircham, Tucker Turner Kingsley Wood & Co and Cannings Connolly handled Royal London's larger portfolio. Susan Haggard, a partner at Speechley Bircham, was lead counsel for PMB. The firms representing PMB had been managing the various components of its portfolio, and continued to advise on the sale.