Grapevine

Shearman securitisation trouble is Tucker’s luck
Shearman & Sterling‘s hire of the ebullient Julian Tucker from Allen & Overy (A&O), and the departure of Marke Raines – another former A&O partner, incidentally – mark a new turn for the US firm’s securitisation business.

Raines was highly regarded as a technician, but his practice never really fitted with Shearman’s. His hire in May 2000 was probably most notable for the fact that Shearman had managed to attract someone out of A&O, which at the time was a truly rare event. In the intervening period, it has become obvious that A&O partners are as susceptible to headhunters as anyone else.

Shearman recruited Raines at a time when securitisation was mistakenly considered a product in its own right rather than what it really is – a technique. Securitisers are no longer seen as the anoraks on the fifth floor; these days they have to be integrated into any serious law firm’s financing capability.

Sidley Austin Brown & Wood aside, US firms practising in London have abandoned the idea of building up securitisations as standalone practices. They certainly cannot rely on servicing US clients because the US and the UK are entirely separate markets in structured finance.

The reason Sidley has done so well in London has very little to do with its stellar practice in the US and more to do with the way it drafted in Graham Penn nearly 10 years ago and built on his Morgan Stanley relationship.

Shearman does plenty of work for Citibank in the States, but that has never translated into a London relationship. Instead, it was becoming increasingly clear that Shearman’s burgeoning transactional practice was in need of support.

The hire of Ian Nisse from Ashurst crystallised the need for someone with a track record in real estate securitisation. That must have been felt even more acutely when Shearman landed the Laurel pub deal last year – a deal that required highly sophisticated finance advice.

There’s another nice fit, too: Tucker has handled all of Canary Wharf’s securitisations, while Shearman advised the board on the Canary Wharf sale last year.

Norton Rose left hanging as Herbies picks up TIW
Norton Rose has been left out in the cold on the massive $3.5bn (£1.82bn) disposal of two Eastern European mobile phone operators to Vodafone, after its regular client, Montreal-based Telesystems International Wireless (TIW), turned to Herbert Smith on the deal.

The mandate – the first for Herbert Smith from TIW – came to the firm through a referral from its Dutch ally Stibbe. Norton Rose is TIW’s regular UK adviser and has helped out with a raft of financings in recent years, but the firm was not approached to act on this latest disposal.

The deal sees Vodafone acquire TIW’s 79 per cent stake in Romanian mobile operator Mobifon, and also pick up the Czech Republic’s third-largest mobile operator, Oskar Mobil. But while TIW turned away from Norton Rose, there was an inevitability about Vodafone instructing Linklaters. The relationship between the two is regarded as one of the closest and most longstanding in the City. How Norton Rose must be wishing more clients were like that.