Pinsents gets top marks for school project instructions

Pinsent Masons finalised two UK schools projects in two days to round off March, as the Government announced changes to the way PFI schemes would be funded in the future.

Pinsents advised the Alpha Schools consortium in the £145m Highland Schools PPP project, the second UK bond-financed schools project. The firm also worked alongside Birmingham City Council’s in-house team to advise on a £74m PFI project in the Midlands city.

Late last month, the UK Treasury introduced proposals for debt funding competitions on projects of more than £50m, with credit guarantee finance and equity funding competitions also on the cards. Some lawyers who feared school project work had become commoditised see the changes as a boon.

The Highland project involves 11 new schools on 10 sites in the Scottish Highlands under a 31-year PFI concession. Pinsents projects partner Ian Laing led a multidisciplinary team involving 10 lawyers.

A trio of Scottish law firms was involved in the deal, with MacRoberts advising Highland Council, McGrigors for the funders and arranger and Burness advising the building contractor. Halliwells acted for the facilities management contractor.

The Birmingham project will provide 12 new and refurbished schools, including two secondary schools, nine primary schools and one early years centre.

Pinsents projects partner Alan Aisbett led the team advising the council; Beach-croft Wansbroughs acted for Transform Schools, a Balfour Beatty-led consortium.