Ashursts helps steer Formula One part sale

Ashurst Morris Crisp and Marriott Harrison have thrashed out the sale of 50 per cent of Bernie Ecclestone's motor racing empire, Formula One Holdings, in just over a week.

Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, a specialist arm of Deutsche Bank, will buy a 50 per cent stake in SLEC Holding, the parent company of Formula One Holdings – the company that controls the sport.

It is understood that Morgan Grenfell will purchase a 12.5 per cent stake in the parent company for £203m and has obtained an option to buy a further 37.5 per cent for £609m.

Chris Ashworth, a company partner at Ashursts, led a team of about 30 lawyers acting for Morgan Grenfell. Senior corporate group assistant Matt Dennis and private equity group assistant Filippo Cardini acted as Ashursts' other principal lawyers.

Ashworth says: “We are one of many law firms who act for Morgan Grenfell and we have done a number of deals for them in the last 12 months.”

He adds: “The deal took about a week to complete. It was hectic.

“This has been one of the most complex and exciting transactions we have been involved in, where our ability to assemble a large and focused group of lawyers in a short time scale gave our client a competitive edge in the negotiations.”

Richard Palmer, tax partner at Ashursts, also worked on the deal, with assistants Louise Krosch advising on intellectual property, Michael McClean on commercial contracts and Duncan Liddell on regulatory matters.

Morgan Grenfell, which already owns 50 per cent of Formula One team Arrows, received investment advice from WestLB.

John Swete, corporate partner at 12-partner firm Marriott Harrison, led a team of three including corporate partner Stephen Mullens, advising SLEC Holding.

The firm worked with Marriott Harrison's associate tax firm in Guernsey, Paynter Granby, which was set up in 1996 by tax partner Tony Granby with fellow former Marriott Harrison tax partner Michael Paynter.

Paynter says Formula One Holdings instructs Marriott Harrison on an exclusive basis for legal advice on transactions.