CC bags Allianz instruction as Freshfields is conflicted

Clifford Chance’s London office has had its first instruction from German private equity firm Allianz Capital Partners thanks to
a conflict at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Allianz-backed nursing home business Four Seasons narrowly missed out to trade buyer Barchester on last week’s shotgun £525m auction of Westminster Healthcare.

Allianz used Freshfields’ London office on the corporate aspects of its acquisition of rival nursing home business Four Seasons from Alchemy in July; Clifford Chance advised Allianz on the finance aspects of the bid.

Allianz has historically used Bruckhaus in Germany and Freshfields has put effort into cross-selling its London private equity team to its top drawer German client base.

It is understood that Freshfields, which in London traditionally acts for just one private equity house on an auction, accepted an instruction from a rival bidder on the first round and was thus conflicted out.

Clifford Chance also works with Allianz in Germany and is said to be delighted to have the chance to get in front of a private equity house that has made no secret of its expansionist ambitions. The firm also advised rival bidder CVC Capital Partners, which dropped out on the first round. Jim Baird advised CVC, with Ian Bagshaw advising Allianz.

The auction was conducted by Lovells on behalf of 3i and Rothschilds. 3i has recouped four times what it paid for the business in
a rapidly consolidating sector.

Lovells advised 3i on its acquisition of Westminster Healthcare two years ago, and this instruction indicates that the firm is 3i’s adviser of choice on major European deals.

It is understood that 3i decided on a contract auction on 15 October, with three bidders going through to the second round. Sources close to the deal say Lovells partner Julie Bradshaw ran the negotiations with Allianz, while Marco Compagnoni ran negotiations with
both Barchester and Charterhouse, the first bidder to drop out.

Barchester, which is owned by Irish entrepreneurs JP McManus and John Magnier, instructed long-term legal adviser Berwin Leighton Paisner.