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Travers Smith Braithwaite has been appointed to the $20bn (£14.2bn) recapitalisation of NTL, which is considered to be the biggest debt restructuring ever
The telecoms company is a longstanding corporate client of Travers, but such a massive restructuring is a major coup for the corporate recovery team. The Travers team is led by head of corporate recovery Jeremy Walsh and corporate partner Spencer Summer-field, who manages the NTL relationship. According to Summerfield, just over 10 per cent of Travers' total workforce is involved in the restructuring. He was unable to confirm how long the NTL work would tie up the lawyers, but did say that "these things tend to take a long time". The bondholders are represented by Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson in the US and Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft in the UK. Clifford Chance is acting for the UK syndicated lenders. Travers has sewn up most of NTL's corporate work over the last few years, although Baker & McKenzie got a look in on a $2bn (£1.4bn) IT outsourcing agreement last year. The firm has a well-respected restructuring team, but it is not considered to be on a par with Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy or Linklaters. Sources close to the restructuring have expressed surprise about Travers' role. "We were surprised to see Travers on the job, particularly given that Clifford Chance is on the other side," commented one source. However, Walsh and Summerfield have strong credentials; a successful debt restructuring will not only give NTL some relief from interest payments of over £3m a day, it will also look good on the Travers CV.