Olswang scoops first instruction from Viatel

Olswang has done its first deal for Viatel. The firm has just completed a $52m (£29.2m) financing for Viatel in a deal which has been heralded as evidence of the final return of investor confidence to the telecoms sector.

Viatel has previously instructed Olswang’s technology rival Bird & Bird on UK corporate and commercial work, but on this deal the firm was restricted to a role in the Netherlands.

Olswang’s instruction was down to a longstanding relationship between telecoms partner Colin Long and Viatel’s general counsel Stuart Blythe, who worked together at Coudert Brothers in the mid-1990s before Long left for Olswang in 1998 and Blythe went in-house at WorldCom (now MCI).

Blythe followed chief executive officer Lucy Woods to Viatel from MCI in October last year. He instructed Long almost immediately and then appointed the firm to advise on financing and corporate aspects of the financing deal in March.

Long and head of banking Moni Mannings led the Olswang team. Olswang was also handed responsibility for coordinating overseas counsel and called on law firms with considerable experience of working with Viatel.

Bärr & Karrer was appointed to advise in Switzerland, Clifford Chance advised on Belgian and French issues, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher provided German advice.

The London office of regular US counsel McDermott Will & Emery advised on US securities issues and New York corporate finance boutique Reitler Brown assisted with local due diligence. Bermudian firm Appleby Spurling Hunter dealt with the issues associated with Viatel being domiciled in Bermuda.

In May 2002, Viatel emerged debt-free from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom advised the company on the insolvency.

Morgan Stanley led a group of six US and European investors and instructed David Silk of Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz on the US-centric financing, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Mark Coker assisting.