CC, Freshfields and Herbies pick up roles on Stagecoach bus buy

Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith have taken the leading roles on transport group Stagecoach’s purchase of the operating subsidiaries of the East London Bus Group.

The £60m deal will see Stagecoach re-enter the London bus market four years after it sold the East London Bus Group to ­Australia’s Macquarie Bank for £264m.

Herbert Smith acted for longstanding client Stagecoach on the transaction, fielding a team led by corporate partner Ben Ward, who leads the relationship with the client.

Restructuring and insolvency partner Laurence Elliott advised on corporate recovery, while finance ­partner Kristen Roberts and tax partner Isaac Zailer were also involved in the deal.

Freshfields was brought in to advise East London Bus Group on the sale process after the company fell into administration ahead of its eventual sale.

Restructuring partner Catherine Balmond and ­corporate partner Andrew Hutchings led the team for the magic circle firm. Corporate partner Piers Pritchard Jones, tax partner Jonathan Cooklin and pensions ­partner Charles Magoffin also acted on the deal.

Clifford Chance advised the original lenders to the group, as well as administrators KPMG. The team was led by banking partners Iain White and Philip Hertz.

Clifford Chance and ­Herbert Smith both acted on the original 2006 sale of the businesses, which included the group’s East London and Selkent operations. Macquarie was advised by Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, with corporate rainmaker Tim Emmerson (now at Sullivan & Cromwell) leading.

Ward also led the Herbert Smith team on last year’s unsuccessful attempt by Stagecoach to buy the rail and bus businesses from National Express.

“They’re the sort of client that’s always looking at opportunities,” said Ward, who would not be drawn on whether the company was seeking to add more bus operations to its portfolio.

East London Bus Group was put up for sale earlier this year as profits began to fall. A source close to the deal said the group “had ­various alternatives”, but that ultimately “a sale was viewed as the best option for the vendor”.