White & Case has won a role alongside SJ Berwin on the collapse of Baugur, which was placed into administration following today’s High Court ruling.
Baugur had attempted to see off administration by applying for bankruptcy protection in Iceland, but conceded defeat this morning.
SJ Berwin had been acting for Baugur’s main lender, Icelandic bank Landsbanki, and is also main adviser to PwC on the administration. SJ Berwin restructuring partner Mike Wollard is leading the team.
White & Case was handed the instruction by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) administrators Tony Lomas and Zelf Hussain and will help wind down Baugur’s UK investments, which include major stakes in House of Fraser, Hamleys and Iceland Foods. White & Case will give advice on matters where it is not appropriate for the bank and the company to have the same legal adviser.
As source close to the situation said: “The UK investments of Baugur are likely to end up being owned by the lenders, effectively cutting Baugur out of the picture.”
It is understood that White & Case restructuring partner Dan Hamilton is lead counsel for PwC, although the firm declined to comment.
DLA Piper is also understood to have won a major role, advising the group’s other main lenders Glitnir and Kaupthing. The firm’s head of restructuring Stephen Halladay is representing Glitnir, which is Baugur’s second largest bank creditor with around half as much exposure as Landsbanki.
It is understood that Lovells is advising an HBOS-led consortium as bankers to a key Baugur investment, jewellery group Aurum, which owns the Goldsmiths chain.
Baugur’s board said this morning that it would not appose Landsbanki’s attempt to have UK arm BG Holding placed into administration.
Baugur, which is being advised by Allen & Overy partner Andrew Bamber, had applied for bankruptcy protection in Iceland to prevent administrators seizing control (5 Feb).
The group, which has more than £1bn worth of debt and very little equity, said it had agreed to administration to “minimise any further jeopardy to the ongoing operations of Baugur’s portfolio companies”.