Ashursts strengthens McAlpine relationship with acquisition work

Ashurst Morris Crisp has advised longstanding housebuilder client Alfred McAlpine on its £52.2m acquisition of Proby.

Proby is the parent company of Kennedy Utility Management, which specialises in providing distribution asset management services to the utilities sector and will add critical mass to the group's construction services business.

Alfred McAlpine was advised by corporate partner Graeme Ward, who is back in London after spending three years as managing partner of the firm's Frankfurt office. This appointment is a renewal of his relationship with the client.

The firm has been acting for McAlpine for several years, and two years ago advised on the £72.9m disposal of its US aggregates and civil engineering businesses to Hanson. On that deal Chris Ashworth, now head of telecoms and investment banking, led the firm's team, and both Ashworth and Ward are now joint relationship partners.

McAlpine is being bought through a mix of £34.6m in cash and loan notes, £3m in new McAlpine shares and £14.6m of assumed debt. Ward led a team of 12 on the deal, pulling in resources from the firm's banking, tax, property, employment, pensions, environment and intellectual property departments. Banking partner Richard Kendall and tax partner Ian Johnson both worked on the transaction with him.

Last year Ashursts helped McAlpine fight off a bid which was believed to have come from the Heron International property group.

Ward says: “McAlpine has had a very impressive set of results, and this deal on top of it has underlined the strength of them as an independent entity. They're housebuilders, and this is a good line in diversification for them.”