Herbert Smith to handle SMG sale

Herbert Smith is about to embark on its first major corporate deal for the Scottish Media Group (SMG).
SMG revealed on Tuesday (10 September) that is putting its publishing arm, including Scottish newspapers The Herald and The Sunday Herald, up for sale for more than £200m.
Herbert Smith has been SMG's main law firm since December 2000, when it replaced Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer under new legal director Lindsay Wallace. SMG has not announced a major corporate deal since it acquired Virgin Radio in the summer of 2000.
Like many major Scottish corporates, SMG has been bitten by the cold economic climate in the region. The company is struggling under a £400m debt mountain, and before announcing the sale its shares had slid to a record low of 83.5p.
SMG's decision to choose City firm Herbert Smith over its Scottish corporate law firm Burness may not be well received by business lawyers north of the border.
“We chose Herbert Smith for this deal because deals of this size are normally run out of London,” explained Wallace.
Burness chairman John Rafferty was philosophical about the choice of a City firm for this major Scottish deal.
He said that the agreement was likely to throw up a lot of competition issues, especially if the newspapers were acquired by another newspaper publisher.
“Everyone here would like to land a deal of that nature. However, as this is a newspaper deal, there are likely to be important issues relating to merger legislation. I think there's competition experience there [in the City] that could be difficult to replicate here,” Rafferty said.
Herbert Smith corporate partner Michael Walter is leading the SMG team on the publishing sale.