US and City firms win game, set and match

A group of law firms advised on a tennis sponsorship and marketing deal worth u750m. The deal is believed to be the biggest ever tennis deal to date.

A team of City, US, independent and in-house lawyers advised ATP Tour and Super 9 tournaments on the deal. The Association for Tennis Professionals (ATP) is the governing body for men's professional tennis.

Swiss-based International Sports and Leisure (ISL) is set to pay u75m per annum for the next decade for exclusive marketing, television and licensing rights to the Super 9 tournaments and the ATP world championship. ISL is also responsible for marketing the Fifa World Cup football tournament.

ATP general counsel Mark Young and Joe Leccese of New York firm Proskauer Rose acted for ATP.

Media specialist Mark Webster and Norton Rose intellectual property partner Richard Barratt led the team acting for Super 9.

Barratt says the legal advisers were challenged to pull together the interests of 10 very different parties. “The seven month negotiation was intense but I have rarely been involved in a transaction where the humour between the lawyers was so evident,” he says.

Norton Rose back-up included corporate finance partner Andrew Phillips, assisted by Ian Fox and Ken-Hui Khoo. Tax advice was provided by partner John Challenger and assistant Jeremy Reynolds.

Webster says he built up a niche tennis practice, acting for various clients in tennis, including Romanian tennis player and entrepreneur Ion Tiriac. He says the reformatting of the tour is just as important as marketing aspects.

ISL was advised in-house by senior media specialist Alexandra Illes, intellectual property specialist Sarah Tierney and new media specialist Jay Gillman-Wells. Financing partner at Freshfields David Trott also advised.

Trott describes the negotiations as “tough”.

“We went through some difficult periods, but what stood out for me were the relationships which were struck up.”

Trott says that Barratt had the difficult task of balancing the interests of nine tournament owners, who “pulled in many different directions”.