Battle to offer senior debt and high-yield hots up as Latham snares UBS Warburg
The London office of Latham & Watkins has ramped up its relationship with investment bank UBS Warburg by becoming one of its preferred advisers for UK leveraged finance work, The Lawyer can reveal. UBS is a longstanding client on the US side in London. Latham partners Mark Stegemoeller and Gay Bronson are regular outside counsel for UBS, particularly on high-yield issues. However, the bank has now approached the firm to get involved on the senior debt side as well. Latham partner James Chesterman said: "It's an evolution towards a combined service." Chesterman had worked for some of the bankers at UBS in his previous incarnation as a partner at Weil Gotshal & Manges. UBS also uses Anthony Ward and Iain Goalen at Shearman & Sterling for UK senior debt work. UBS's endorsement of Latham strengthens the US firm's claim to be one of the few in the City that can act on both senior debt and the high-yield side of leveraged finance transactions. Other firms with the same capability include Shearman & Sterling, White & Case and Allen & Overy (A&O). UBS is one of the investment banks that takes a robust attitude to instructing the same law firm on both senior and high-yield. It used Shearmans on the leveraged buyout of Irish packaging and printing group Clondalkin, which was taken private by private equity house Candover in 1999. Candover was advised by Clifford Chance. The Shearmans team, then led by former head of European acquisition finance Stephen Mostyn-Williams, acted for the senior debt for Warburg Dillon Read and Allied Irish Bank, as well as the high-yield debt on the mezzanine bridge and the bond takeout. However, law firms' eagerness to service both senior debt and high-yield within the same capital structure has not met with universal acceptance among investment bankers. Clifford Chance banking partner Malcolm Sweeting told The Lawyer: "There's a debate about this - because of the inter-creditor issues there's been an inclination to use separate firms." On the Messer Griesheim deal last year, which was widely regarded as the benchmark deal for 2001, the lead banks - JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, the Royal Bank of Scotland and HypoVereinsbank - were advised by Malcolm Sweeting of Clifford Chance. However, A&O advised on the high-yield issue.