Herbies First Choice for travel merger

Holiday operator First Choice has turned to trusted adviser Herbert Smith for its £10bn merger with German group Tui, the latest German-British consolidation in the tour operator industry.

Relationship partner David Paterson is leading the team at Herbert Smith, working with finance partner Clive Barnard and competition partners Jonathan Scott and Veronica Roberts.

Herbert Smith’s alliance firm Gleiss Lutz advised First Choice on the considerable German aspects of the deal, as Tui’s brands include Thompson Holidays.

Allen & Overy (A&O) and US firms O’Melveny & Myers and WilmerHale advised Tui. Corporate partner Alistair Asher lead A&O’s team along with tax partner Patrick Mears, incentives partner Paul McCarthy and pensions partner Dana Burstow.

Brussels-based O’Melveny partner John Cook advised Tui on competition aspects. Ulrich Quack of WilmerHale advised on antitrust issues with his corporate partner Roland Steinmeyer.

The combination of First Choice and Tui will create a company with revenues of £10bn and cost savings of up to £100m.

First Choice’s financial advisers were Lazard and Deutsche Bank. The banks did not instruct separate counsel.

Herbert Smith’s instruction followed First Choice’s decision in December to turn to the City firm when a £500m tie-up of its package holiday operations with rival MyTravel, a Slaughter and May client, was slated.

That deal was scuppered by MyTravel’s decision to merge with Thomas Cook, which was owned by German group KarstadtQuelle.

In that transaction, which created an £8bn company, corporate partner Tim Emmerson at Sullivan & Cromwell led for Thomas Cook, with Slaughters representing MyTravel.