CC and Freshfields act on Temasek’s strategic investment in Watson

Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have advised Temasek and AS Watson respectively, as the Singaporean sovereign fund buys a near 25 per cent stake in Asian Tycoon Li Ka-shing’s retail chain for $5.6bn (£3.5bn).

The deal comes after the planned IPO of Watson took a sharp turn. Prior to the announcement of Temasek’s investment, Watson’s parent company Hutchison Whampoa had already instructed and worked with Freshfields for its previously proposed dual-listings of Watson in Hong Kong and London.

Freshfields’ Singapore based partner and co-head of global capital markets practice Steven Revell led the preparation for the planned IPO.

In the M&A transaction, Hutchison Whampoa, which is controlled by Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing, was advised by Freshfields’ Asia managing partner Robert Ashworth and corporate partner Simon Weller, both based in Hong Kong. Ashworth is the firm’s relationship partner for Hutchison Whampoa.

Clifford Chance advised Temasek, Singapore’s state-owned investment company, with Asia managing partner Peter Charlton and Hong Kong corporate partners Amy Lo and Neeraj Budhwani leading its team.

Watson is a leading health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe with more than 10,5000 stores. In the UK and Europe, its brand portfolio includes the Superdrug retail chain. The deal, which is the single largest investment by Temasek, will make the Singaporean investor the second largest stakeholder in Watson.

At a media briefing last Friday (21 March), Li indicated that a possible listing of Watson is still on the horizon in about two to three years time and the share sale should be taking place in Hong Kong and Singapore.