Acquisition Finance Update

The biggest financing deal of December was the £3.3bn package supporting Dubai Ports World’s bid for P&O – a bid which at press time was being contested by Singapore-based PSA. Allen & Overy (A&O) partner Mike Duncan led for Deutsche Bank, while Clifford Chance partner Mark Campbell advised Dubai Ports World. Denton Wilde Sapte partners Farmida Bi and Matthew Sapte also scooped a role, advising Barclays Capital and Dubai Islamic Bank on the related Islamic bond issue, or Sukuk. The Sukuk was structured as a pre-IPO convertible and, at $9.3bn (£5.38bn), is the largest-ever Islamic bond. A&O tucked into an appetising recap before Christmas, with Tim Polglase reprising a familiar role for JPMorgan. The bank has continued its relationship with Lion Capital since its split from US parent Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, and A&O has reaped the benefits, this time with a £617m recapitalisation of Weetabix. Refinancing was the flavour of the month at A&O: Chris Andrew and Jon Bevan handled the £875m Drax refinancing and listing.

At Clifford Chance, Rod McGillivray, for Barclays Capital, Commerzbank and ING, topped a storming 2005 with the £500m financing of Terra Firma’s bid for East Surrey Holdings, advising Citigroup and BarCap. New partner James Butters kept the borrower side of the business busy with a role advising Punch Taverns on its £1.25m acquisition financing of the Spirit Group, while Charlie Cochrane knocked out a couple of midmarket deals with Barclays. He advised Barclays and BNP Paribas on Exponent Private Equity’s £235m acquisition (£180m debt package) for TSL Education, followed by the £130m financing of Fuller’s bid for George Gale.