Slaughters and Davis Polk among advisers as Aviva sells last Delta stake

Slaughter and May has taken a lead advisory role alongside US firms Davis Polk & Wardwell and Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Benelux outfit De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek on UK insurer Aviva’s disposal of its remaining stake in Dutch rival Delta Lloyd.

Slaughters corporate partner and Aviva relationship contact Jonathan Marks led the advice to the company on its sale of the 19.4 per cent stake, which follows three previous deals to reduce its holding in the Netherlands-listed insurance group. He worked alongside corporate partner Richard Smith and associate Jonathan Wiseman.

Although Slaughters’ oversaw the transaction, Aviva was also advised by longstanding Dutch adviser De Brauw, the UK firm’s ally in the country, which fielded lead partner and capital markets specialist Joost Schutte and senior associate Dirk Struycken.

Willkie Farr London corporate partner Joseph Ferraro and corporate associate Jennifer Tait also provided advice to Aviva.

Davis Polk City-based corporate partner Jeffrey Oakes advised the quartet of banks co-ordinating the deal, a consortium led by Morgan Stanley also including ABN Amro, Barclays and Goldman Sachs.

Background to this deal:

Slaughters has advised Aviva for decades, with Marks among the partners at the firm acting for legacy Norwich Union on its 1997 flotation and when it merged with CGU in 2000 (28 February 2000). The combined company adopted the Aviva name in the UK in 2009 after previously using the brand in other countries.

The disposal is the last of four moves by Aviva to reduce its stake in Delta and bring to an end the relationship with the insurance rival. The Amsterdam IPO of Delta in 2009 reduced Aviva’s holding in the company from 92 per cent to 57 per cent, with De Brauw Amsterdam corporate partner Pierre Nijnens advising Aviva and Davis Polk’s Oakes acting for the underwriters. It then carried out two disposals of stakes in 2011 and 2012, with Slaughters’ Marks advising Aviva on both occasions.

Although Schutte led on the latest deal, De Brauw’s relationship partner for Aviva is Nijnens, the insurer’s main contact at the firm since its first instruction in 1996. De Brauw is Aviva’s lead adviser for matters related to Delta.

Delta’s primary corporate advisers are Allen & Overy, but the latest deal did not warrant the company instructing outside lawyers.

Ferraro, who led on the Delta deal, joined the US firm from Dewey & LeBoeuf last year and brought Aviva over as a client. Aviva was a longstanding client of Dewey. Tait also joined the firm from Dewey.

Willkie Farr recently advised Aviva on the sale of its US life and annuities business, Aviva USA Corporation, to Athene Holding for $1.8bn, announced earlier this month, with New York corporate and financial services partner Robert Rachofsky among the lead advisers.