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A close relationship with Greenfield Capital Partners paid off for Simmons & Simmons Trenité last week when the Dutch private equity house emerged as the successful bidder in mm02's auction of its loss-making Dutch subsidiary.
The deal comes just eight months after Simmons' Rotterdam arm advised Greenfield on the acquisition of Dutch fixed-line telecoms operator Enetel, formerly owned by Energis.
Nolst Trenité, which merged with Simmons in May 2001, was approached by Greenfield three years ago.
Led by corporate partner Jean-Pierre van Leeuwe, Simmons' relationship with Greenfield's private equity business is virtually exclusive. Simmons also acts for its corporate finance division.
The relationship has still to be cross-sold to Simmons in the UK, but Brussels associate Jacqueline Coumans was brought in to provide competition advice on the mm02 deal.
Greenfield acquired mm02's Dutch subsidiary for just €25m (£17.2m), but the sum was still princely given that most analysts ascribed a negative net worth to the company. Negotiations continued until the last moment, with at least one other bidder.
At van Leeuwe's instigation, the acquisition was ultimately drafted under Dutch rather than UK law. "It was more cost-efficient and practical and the client also wanted to act swiftly," he said.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised mm02 on the deal. The team was led by London partner Julian Pritchard, who has built a strong relationship with mm02 since advising BT on the demerger of its mobile arm in 2001. Since then, both Freshfields and Linklaters have acted for BT. Pritchard said: "Clients value our telecoms expertise, which has been built through acting for a variety of telecoms clients around Europe. We're very much alive to the conflict issues and obviously discuss them with clients where necessary."
Freshfields' London and Amsterdam team worked closely with mm02 general counsel Philip Bramwell and Matthew Mullan, a member of the in-house team.