Norton Rose advises Marriott and Orion on Mayfair property purchase

Norton Rose landed roles on both sides of Marriott and Orion's £27m acquisition of 47 Park Street, Mayfair, after Paris lateral hire Thierry Leleu brought work on the deal with him from Mayer Brown & Platt.
In London, Norton Rose advised the purchasing joint venture on the financing and also advised Orion European Real Estate Fund on structuring the joint venture with Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI). The deal marked a UK debut for Orion and a new client for Norton Rose. Tom Speechly led on financing, assisted by Colin Morgan.
The introduction came via Leleu, who had already advised at an earlier stage of the deal before joining Norton Rose last year (The Lawyer, 12 November 2001). Before the move, he was instructed, with KLegal, to advise the vendor, a joint venture between Accor Hotels, Blackstone Group and Colony Capital, on the straightforward share sale of 47 Park Street to MVCI.
MVCI instructed a Gibson Dunn & Crutcher team in London, led by property head Alan Samson and corporate partner Wayne McArdle and assisted by Richard Bennett.
However, the events of 11 September halted the transaction. As Marriott, MVCI's parent company, struggled in the ensuing travel crisis, it decided to pursue the deal with a joint venture partner. MVCI teamed up with Orion, a company that Leleu already knew through contacts at Colony. Unable to collect the cheque from Marriott as usual, MVCI began negotiating with banks. It chose Barclays, which instructed Linklaters.
Jonathan Cole, MVCI's senior counsel for Europe and the Middle East, said: “We needed someone who had done these kinds of transactions a million times. Thierry Leleu recommended the London office of Norton Rose.”
Norton Rose ended up advising the purchasing joint venture on the financing and Orion on the joint venture structure.
Cole said: “Colony wanted [Leleu] to be involved with Orion because they wanted to get the sale done after September 11.”
Conflicts relating to Leleu's earlier work were disclosed and accepted. When MVCI and Orion wanted to discuss renegotiating the purchase price, for example, Leleu was sent out of the room.
In the post-11 September climate, mutual desire to get things done intensified. “We felt that everybody in all the closings was working together,” said Cole.