A&O and Links steer Schaeffler and banks through refinancing

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters both landed roles on Schaeffler Group’s debt financing, which saw the company cut its debt by e2.8bn (£2.46bn).

A&O, led by banking partners Walter Uebelhoer in Munich and Oliver Waldburg in Frankfurt, advised ball bearing manufacturer Schaeffler.

For Linklaters banking partners Stephen Lucas in London and Marc Trinkaus in Frankfurt led on the deal, advising the group of lending banks to Schaeffler. The lending banks comprised Commerzbank, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, RBS, UBS and UniCredit Bank.

Both A&O and Linklaters adopted the same roles on Schaeffler’s original ­restructuring in 2009.

A&O also advised Schaeffler on its 2008 acquisition of a 90 per cent stake in autoparts manufacturer Continental. Schaeffler bought the shares at e75 apiece, accumulating around e16bn of debt to do so. In the financial crisis that ensued following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, ­Continental’s share price dropped to around e11 per share, leaving Schaeffler with a mountain of debt and a devalued underlying asset.

In November 2009 ­Schaeffler reduced its ­holding in Continental from 90 per cent to 75.1 per cent through a shares sale.

This time around ­Schaeffler managed to cut its debt by e2.8bn by selling 30-million shares in Continental worth e1.8bn (around e60 per share), using e400m from operating cash and transferring e600m to its operating business.

Schaeffler has now reduced its total stake in Continental to around 60 per cent and increased its directly held stake from 42.2 per cent to 49.9 per cent.

Schaeffler is expected to convert into a joint-stock company later in the year.