Freshfields set for RBS coup on GUS refinance

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer looks well placed to advise Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) if, as expected, the bank opts for a securitisation to refinance the Barclay brothers’ acquisition of GUS’s home shopping division.

Newly made up partner Flora McClean advised RBS on acquisition finance for the £590m deal. It is likely that the bank debt will be refinanced through a securitisation of short-term receivables from the catalogues business.

Within RBS, the deal was run by Stuart Lammin, who belongs to the bank’s securitisation group, which is headed up by Philip Basil.

Freshfields’ finance practice is keen to get an increasing share of the work put out by RBS, which has just begun a panel review. The relationship is managed by Marcus McKenzie, while three more of Freshfields’ 11 London-based finance partners are closely involved with the client. They are McClean, David Trott and Ian Harvey-Samuel.

Lovells advised longstanding clients Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay on the acquisition, with relationship partner and head of private equity Marco

Compagnoni leading the team. The GUS deal follows last November’s acquisition of Littlewoods from the Moores family, on which Lovells also advised the entrepreneurs.

Unusually, the Barclay brothers reached a deal with GUS without the involvement of financial advisers. “These clients are very sophisticated deal doers. They tend not to use financial advisers unless they have to,” said Compagnoni.

On the Littlewoods deal, for example, the Barclay brothers brought in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ corporate fianance advisers late on in the process, solely to put out the offer document to shareholders.

Compagnoni added: “It does mean that you have a more closely involved role with them. Professionally it makes them a very rewarding client to work for.”

Linklaters partner Ian Fenn advised GUS, which also completed the deal without investment banking advice, relying instead on an in-house M&A function.