Herbert Smith scoops Mizuho for Charterhouse-Avent deal

Herbert Smith has landed its first acquisition finance mandate from Mizuho Bank, working on Charterhouse’s £225m buyout of baby care products manufacturer Avent.

The Herbert Smith team, led by new partner Malcolm Hitching, advised James Newns’ leveraged finance team at Mizuho on the senior and mezzanine debt financing of the acquisition. Mizuho’s regular outside counsel are Tim Polglase at Allen & Overy and Matthew Cottis at Lovells.

The deal is a coup for Herbert Smith’s fledgling acquisition finance practice, which partly fed off finance head Jason Fox’s energy finance contacts at the bank to get the deal, as well as Hitching’s own contacts with the bank from his time as an associate at Norton Rose.

Newns, director of leveraged finance at Mizuho, said: “It was a basic senior and mezz deal and straightforward, but the real issue was the time and getting it [done quickly]. Malcolm and his team did a good job.”

The deal also represents a success for Lovells’ private equity practice in snaring more work from Charterhouse. Charterhouse’s main adviser continues to be Dickson Minto, but the private equity house has given a series of deals to Lovells partner Derek Baird, who joined Lovells from Dickson Minto in 2002.

Avent was privately owned by its founder and chief executive Edward Atkin, who was known to Charterhouse through partner Malcolm Offord, who had made an earlier investment by 3i in the company in 1995.

Offord told The Lawyer: “This was done off market on the basis of relationships. The vendor didn’t run an auction [for the debt] and neither did we.” Mizuho is a longstanding investor in Charterhouse’s fund.