Lovells has won Equitable Life as a client for the assurer's demutualisation and upcoming sale, edging out long-standing advisers Denton Wilde Sapte.
Lovells corporate insurance partner John Young was called in by Schroders, Equitable Life's financial adviser, after the announcement of the demutualisation.
Young worked with Schroders on the demutualisation of Clerical Medical and the transfer of its business to a subsidiary of Halifax in 1996, and on Prudential's 1997 bid for Scottish Amicable and its demutualisation.
Young is leading a team including Jane Sparkes and Debby Randall. Young says: "We're delighted to be acting. And for a lawyer demutualisations are a particular challenge. You have to combine an understanding of complex regulation with difficult actuarial concepts."
Along with Herbert Smith partner Marian Pell and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Philip Richards, Young is one of the few lawyers with a track record in this area. He advised AMP on its successful £2.7bn bid in the demutualisation of NPI in 1998. Linklaters' Alan Barker and Slaughter and May's Glen James have also built up strong reputations in the field.
The Equitable Life demutualisation and forthcoming sale was prompted by the House of Lords judgment earlier this year regarding Equitable Life's treatment of guaranteed annuities (The Lawyer, 7 August). Denton Wilde Sapte litigation partner Cindy Leslie advised Equitable Life on the action.
Lovells' corporate insurance team recently advised Aegon UK on the £759m acquisition of the UK life assurance operations of Guardian Royal Exchange, and acted for Britannic on the £346m acquisition of Britannia Life.