Travers just the ticket for 3i on NCP sale

Travers Smith has cemented its ties with marquee private equity client 3i by advising it on the £790m sale of car park operator NCP to Macquarie.

The deal value means 3i has made a profit of £240m on the asset in just 18 months.

The deal sees 3i retain its NCP Services arm, which runs traffic warden and parking meter services for local authorities. Consequently one of the key issues for Travers was separating the businesses ahead of the sale to Macquarie through a business transfer and a Section 110 liquidation.

Corporate partner Philip Sanderson led a 10-partner team at Travers advising 3i, with private equity partner Edmund Reed and commercial partner Richard Brown helping on the separation of the businesses. Banking partner Andrew Gregson advised on the financing.

Macquarie was advised by corporate partner Tim Sheddick Baker & McKenzie on the sale side, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners Martin Nelson-Jones (corporate), Karen Fountain (corporate) and Charles July (finance) advising on the financing.

Macquarie was an unsuccessful bidder in the original auction for NCP in July 2005 that saw 3i triumphant.

The private equity house, then advised by Osborne Clarke, bought NCP from Ashurst client Cinven for £555m. Sanderson at Travers scored a role in that deal too, advising the NCP management.

“It’s a phenomonally successful deal for 3i,” said Sanderson, “and a challenging one for us, given that we had six weeks to do it all in.”

But the deal has already attracted rebukes from trade union GMB. It sees 3i as having stripped £1bn out of NCP during its short ownership.

GMB is the same union that has been pressuring the Government to review tax advantages that enable highly leveraged deals (see The Lawyer, 5 March).