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Linklaters has led a host of top City firms advising on the new Bluewater out-of-town shopping centre in Kent.
Billed as Europe's largest shopping complex development, Bluewater has cost more than u350m to build. Cutting-edge property finance advice over the past year has cost a "considerable amount" in legal fees, say sources.
Linklaters is advising Australian property developer Lend Lease. Partners John Tucker, Simon Clark and Martin Elliot led the Linklaters team.
Prudential, Hermes and the Land Lease Retail Partnership are the main investors. Each holds leasehold interests of 999 years.
Lovell White Durrant property partner Bob Kidby, who advised the Prudential, says: "The approach was very frank and open from the beginning."
Unusually, lawyers began with a bonding session to view the giant site. One day-tripping lawyer recalled how they travelled by coach to see the "lunar landscape" for the first time.
Cameron McKenna partners Richard Goodman and Arthur Dyson advised the investors' syndicate and a banking syndicate, including Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.
Herbert Smith partner Ian Rothnie acted for Hermes.
DJ Freeman property partner Paul Clark advised Lend Lease Retail Partnership, a limited partnership set up to sell an interest in the development.
More than 300 retailers have taken space, including House of Fraser, advised by Slaughter and May; John Lewis and Russell & Bromley, advised by Lovells; C&A, advised by Rowe & Maw; Marks & Spencer and Boots, both advised in-house; and Wallis, advised by Titmuss Sainer Dechert.
Linklaters partner Elliot says the real innovation is the site's unique financing. Kidby agrees: "The novel and groundbreaking property finance structure's success came from the unique relationship between Lend Lease and Prudential."