Norton Rose cements easyJet links with BA takeover

Norton Rose has consolidated its position as corporate adviser for budget-airline easyJet in its £103.5m purchase of British Airways (BA) franchisee GB Airways.

Norton Rose has traditionally been easyJet’s corporate adviser and has remained in this position despite being only one of 10 firms appointed to Easyjet’s legal panel in July 2007. The panel also includes Charles Russell, Clyde & Co, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Harbottle & Lewis and Taylor Wessing.

BG Airways has a franchising agreement with BA and its planes will continue flying under BA’s flag until March 2008. BA had an option to buy GB Airways which it chose not to exercise.

Wragge & Co director Roger Whipp advised BA on the negotiations with easyJet and the BG Airways parent, Bland Group, on exiting from the franchise. Whipp used to work in-house at BA. Wragges has advised the airline on a series of mid-market deals recently. BA regularly turns to Slaughter and May for big ticket corporate and regulatory issues.

Norton Rose corporate partner Chris Randall led the team for the low-cost carrier and the Bland Group was advised by Stephenson Harwood corporate partner Robert Haldane.

Norton Rose also recently acted for Aer Lingus in its defence against easyJet rival Ryanair’s attempted hostile takeover. The bid was blocked in June 2007 by the European Commission on competition grounds. Linklaters advised Aer Lingus on the competition issues.

The deal makes easyJet the largest carrier in Gatwick airport.