The deal, a £325m acquisition of shopping centre portfolios from Charterhouse, is one of the largest shopping centre portfolios to come to the market.
Herbert Smith has previously advised CIT on litigation and some corporate work, but it received this instruction because of a longstanding relationship between real estate partner Chris de Pury and Matt Horgan, formerly a Morgan Stanley fund manager, who took the role of investment director at CIT last year.
The deal involved the formation of two partnership vehicles for CIT, which bought the property portfolio from two partnership vehicles which had held the portfolio for Charterhouse.
“The structure of the transaction reflects the increasing corporatisation of real estate business and the need for the modern lawyer to be as familiar with partnership, company and tax law as with property law,” said de Pury, who led the deal.
The Herbert Smith team also included partners from the tax, corporate, finance construction and employment departments.
Although Herbert Smith won this instruction, it is understood that CIT will still continue to instruct other firms for real estate advice.
Charterhouse was advised by Lovells, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw and Olswang. Jeremy Clay, head of real estate at Mayer Brown, was approached by Charterhouse to oversee the running of the deal, thereby gaining the lion's share of the work.
Clay said he won the role because he was familiar with overseeing large deals that involved a number of different advisers.
Lovells advised Charterhouse on partnership aspects, having been instructed on the initial formation of the partnerships. The Lovells team was led by Richard Stones.
Martyn Needham at Olswang, who had previously advised Charterhouse on the acquisition of some of the individual sites, was also involved to a lesser degree on due diligence aspects.
Allen & Overy – Mark O'Neill, Jonathan Lawrence and Alan Duncan – advised Deutsche Bank, which provided the funding for the transaction. Howard Kennedy's Alan Baines advised investors in the newly formed partnership vehicles.