John Wood’s £1bn share buy-back sees Ashurst, Slaughters brought in

Ashurst and Slaughter and May grabbed the top mandates on John Wood Group’s £1bn share buy-back proposal in the wake of February’s sale of its oil well support division to GE.


Simon Nicholls
Simon Nicholls

Slaughters corporate partner Simon Nicholls led on the deal for longstanding client John Wood, ­working alongside newly made-up corporate partner Paul Dickson. Nicholls led on the original $2.8bn (£1.7bn) deal in February, with Allen & Overy acting for GE.

At the time of the deal the oil services giant said that a high proportion of the ­proceeds would be made available to shareholders, with the remainder being used to finance the previously announced purchase of rival company PSN.

Ashurst has been brought in to advise the banks acting as joint bookrunners on the transaction. They are Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Cazenove.

The Ashurst team was led by corporate partner Nick Bryans, who was enjoyed a longstanding relationship with JPMorgan, including a role acting for the bank on a similar share buy-back deal with software provider Misys last year. The team was completed by New York tax partner David Nirenberg, UK tax partner Simon Swan and London-based US securities partner Eric Stuart, who recently announced that he was ­leaving the firm along with partners Daniel Bushner and Marie Elena Angulo.

Baker Botts acted on the US tax elements for John Wood, as it did on the sale to GE. Houston-based firmwide corporate chief David Kirkland led on the original transaction.

The offer to shareholders opened last week and closes on 1 June, with the tender conditional on shareholder approval at a meeting on the same day.