Telegraph bid: Lovells sole firm to be guaranteed fees

The Lawyer can reveal that only one of the final three bidders for the Telegraph Group, the winning Barclay Brothers, who were represented by Lovells, had an agreement to pay its law firm in full, win or lose.

While other law firms involved – including Ashurst, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Travers Smith Braithwaite – negotiated contingency fee agreements when Hollinger International’s investment bank Lazard declined to underwrite legal costs, ironically the Lovells team, led by Marco Compagnoni, would have been paid in full regardless of the outcome. Lovells declined to comment.

The 3i-Veronis Suhler Stevenson coalition, which lost out to the Barclays at the death last Tuesday (22 June), had a partial conditional fee arrangement with Travers. Veronis Suhler was represented separately by Kirkland & Ellis.

A seven-partner Travers team led by Chris Hale had worked on the deal for months and was still negotiating with Lazard at 11.30pm last Tuesday.

Hale would not comment on fee arrangements, but it is understood that 3i’s law firms usually negotiate fees for a bundle of deals over a period of a year or more. The private equity house shares its major work between Lovells, Macfarlanes and Travers.

As revealed by The Lawyer (2 February), the Daily Mail’s owner Associated Newspapers spoke to Freshfields about an abort discount back in February.

The owner of the Daily Express Richard Desmond also discussed an abort discount with Ashurst.