Persimmon brings in Mayer Brown to put finances in order

Mayer Brown has steered long-time housebuilding client Persimmon through the renegotiation of its ­existing debt, as well as advising on £1.1bn of new facilities with a consortium of banks.

Persimmon has had a relationship with Mayer Brown for some time, with the law firm advising the company on its £643m ­recommended offer for UK housebuilder Westbury in November 2005.

That deal was financed via a combination of cash and drawings arranged under committed facilities of £1.9bn, which was ­underwritten by Barclays, Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

On the current transaction, the Mayer Brown team is being led by finance ­partner Nigel White, who was involved on the Westbury deal, and includes head of capital markets Drew Salvest, finance partner John Taylor and senior finance associate Simon Fisher.

The banks involved are being led by RBS and include Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Bank of Scotland, National Australia Bank and HSBC. Allen & Overy (A&O) banking partner Trevor Borthwick is leading the team advising the ­consortium.

Borthwick, who was assisted by A&O finance associates Alex Pharao and Simon Nasta, has been advising on Persimmon-related debts for banks since 1995.

As well as renegotiating its bank debt, Persimmon has amended the terms on bondholders’ private placement notes, under advice from Bingham McCutchen London finance head Barry Russell.

In ;its ;stock ;market announcement, Persimmon said that as a result of the renegotiation its estimated blended interest rate would be around 6.4 per cent, which is around 2.8 per cent higher than its previous arrangements.

It was hoped that the new facilities would give Persimmon financial headroom before it announced a 78 per cent drop in pre-tax profits.

The news comes after ­private ;equity ;house ­Candover renegotiated the terms of the RBS loan it used to buy yacht-maker Ferretti (The Lawyer,
16 February).

Linklaters is acting for Ferretti and Clifford Chance is advising the banks.