Herbies and Halliwells act on JJB gym sale

DLA Piper, Halliwells and Herbert Smith have won places advising troubled retailer JJB Sports on the sale of its gym business and restructuring package.

DLA Piper, Halliwells and Herbert Smith have won places advising troubled retailer JJB Sports on the sale of its gym business and restructuring package.

Halliwells represented JJB alongside Hebert Smith during the sale of 55 fitness clubs to company founder Dave Whelan for £83m.

The Halliwells team was led by corporate partner Frank Shephard and real estate partner Rod Waldie.

Manchester-based DLA Piper corporate partner Jonathan Watkins acted for Mr Whelan.

Herbert Smith has been advising JJB on its debt arrangements since December last year when the lending banks agreed to suspend payments.

The firm has helped secure new debt arrangements with lending banks as well as new lease agreements with the landlords of the company’s stores.

The Herbert Smith team included corporate partner Will Pearce, restructuring partner Kevin Pullen and finance partner Ewen Fergusson.

The company’s lenders, Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Kaupthing, called on Lovells, Pinsent Masons and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer respectively.

JJB Sports is seeking a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) while it renegotiates with landlords at around 140 closed stores and 250 operating stores.

Pearce said: “If the proposed CVA is approved by creditors and members in late April 2009, it’ll be a unique example of a solvent restructuring of a London Stock Exchange main market listed company.”

Herbert Smith has also advised JJB on the dismissal of former chief executive Christopher Ronnie for gross misconduct.

JJB accused Mr Ronnie of failing to disclose the timing of the sale of his shares in the company.

Regulatory partner Martyn Hopper, employment partner Andrew Taggart and litigation partner Julian Copeman advised the company on its internal investigation and the subsequent dismissal of Mr Ronnie.