Slaughters bolsters Heath Lambert lead adviser role

Slaughter and May is set to advise Heath Lambert if the insurance broker goes ahead with its proposed flotation later this year. The instruction would confirm the firm's position as Heath Lambert's main corporate adviser.
The broker was formed through the merger of CE Heath and Lambert Fench-urch in December 1999, with Slaughters acting for Lambert and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for Heath.
But since then Slaughters has taken on the role as the company's preferred adviser. Its relationship with Heath Lambert stems from its relationship with investment bank Kleinwort Benson Securities (KBS).
When Lowndes Lambert Holding Company floated in the early 1990s, Slaughters advised KBS, while Charles Russell advised Lowndes Lambert.
Charles Russell continued to advise Lowndes Lambert on two vendor placings and KBS instructed Slaughters on both occasions.
However, in 1994 Lowndes Lambert asked Slaughters to advise on a takeover offer for Fenchurch. Slaughters was then retained by the new company, Lambert Fenchurch.
Since the merger, Slaughters has advised Heath Lambert on the restructuring of some debt and equity financing, which was taken on at the time of the merger, as well as a number of employee bonus schemes.
However, the company's finance director William Wilks said the relationship with Slaughters was not entirely exclusive and that a number of other firms – including Freshfields, Ashurst Morris Crisp, Charles Russell, CMS Cameron McKenna and Reynolds Porter Chamberlain – will continue to be instructed on some general commercial issues.
A flotation is likely to be a good move for Heath Lambert given the surge in the valuation of listed insurance brokers since the events of 11 September, which have led to huge increases in insurance premiums.
Wilks, though, said that a final decision had not yet been made and the company was considering a number of options, including a merger.
Insurance broker Willis pulled off a successful flotation in New York in October last year, and since then its shares have rocketed to $24 (£16.80) from $13.50 (£9.45).
Heath Lambert has suffered since Heath was taken private in 1997 and, despite the sell-off of its underwriting businesses and a share buy-back plan, its share price fell.
The company is currently 36 per cent management-owned, with the remaining 64 per cent split between four private equity firms.
It has a broad business covering employee benefits, financial services, treaty reinsurance, risk management and professional indemnity insurance.