Fleck steers Stagecoach into Vitgin territory

Competition lawyer Richard Fleck (right) led the team from Herbert Smith that had four days to carry out the due diligence and regulatory clearance work for Brian Souter's Stagecoach before its purchase of a 49 per cent stake in Virgin Rail.

Souter's Stagecoach paid £158m in cash and shares to buy out the four venture capitalists in Branson's Rail Group – Texas Pacific, JP Morgan, Electra and Bankers Trust. The deal meant that Virgin Rail remained in private hands and Branson will not have to float it on the stock market as he had originally intended. It also increased Virgin's stake in the company from 41 to 51 per cent.

Fleck's team included corporate partners David Paterson and Ben Ward assisted by Gavin Davies and Clare Roberts.

A team from Macfarlanes, led by corporate partners Kevin Tuffnell, Ashley Greenbank and John Conder, and assisted by Matthew Blows, acted for Virgin Rail. An Ashurst Morris Crisp team, led by corporate partner Simon Beddow and competition partner Nigel Parr, assisted by Rita Padam and Matthew Hughes, advised the venture capitalists.

Fleck commented: “The four-day timetable was pretty tight… but this helps concentrate the mind, with the parties focusing on the things that really matter.”

Fleck has been Stagecoach's contact partner since the summer of 1996 when he advised on its acquisition of rail leasing company Porterbrook.