Herbies grows BPE links by advising on Admiral sell-off

Herbert Smith has strengthened its relationship with Barclays Private Equity (BPE) after advising it on the sale of a stake in motor insurer Admiral Group.

Herbert Smith has strengthened its relationship with Barclays Private Equity (BPE) after advising it on the sale of a stake in motor insurer Admiral Group.

The City firm landed the mandate to advise BPE thanks to a referral from Lazard & Co.

Although Herbert Smith is on BPE’s legal panel for infrastructure work alongside Ashurst and CMS Cameron McKenna, this is believed to be the first public deal the firm has advised on since winning its panel slot in June 2003.

BPE sold its 5.8 per cent stake of 15 million Admiral shares, worth £52m, through a placing. The stake was placed by Citigroup Global Markets, which was appointed following a beauty parade coordinated on behalf of BPE by Lazard.

The placing followed Admiral’s stock exchange debut last September. The insurer, which was advised by a Norton Rose team led by partner James Bateson, pulled off one of last year’s few major floats.

The Herbert Smith team was led by partners Chris Haynes and Alex Bafi, while Admiral handled the legal issues arising out of the placing in-house.

Commenting on Herbert Smith’s role on advising BPE, Bafi said the firm won the work because of its experience in block trades.

In January, Herbert Smith, led by Bafi, advised the Dutch state on the sale to Lehman Brothers of its 6 per cent stake in KPN by way of a block trade of 150 million shares.

The deal will also be a boost to Herbert Smith’s private equity practice, which has in recent years been trying to grow its market share.

Admiral is a financial services intermediary and sells principally private motor insurance and related products. Its brands include internet insurer elephant.co.uk.