Camerons wins Brixton deal despite key partner departure

CMS Cameron McKenna has advised property investment and development company Brixton Estates on a multimillion-pound restructuring, despite the move of key relationship partner Jon Vivian to SJ Berwin.
Camerons scooped the work on Brixton's latest deal, the complex restructuring of the £100m-plus Equiton Industrial Partnership, even though SJ Berwin has gained Brixton as a new client since taking on Vivian and assistant Kathryn Almond from Camerons (The Lawyer, 12 February). Camerons' relationship with Brixton, cultivated by Vivian over the last decade, was then called into question.
Instructions from Brixton are now understood to be split between longstanding advisers Lovells, Camerons and its new adviser SJ Berwin.
Almond joined SJ Berwin as a partner and has since acted for Brixton on a number of deals while Vivian was on gardening leave. They include the expansion of existing portfolios at Axis Park, Heathrow, and The Causeway, Staines. SJ Berwin is also involved in Brixton's estates at Capitol Park in Colindale and West Cross Industrial Park in Brentford. But on this deal, it was Camerons corporate partner Barney Hearnden who led the team, which included property partner Mark Heighton.
Hearnden advised Brixton when Equiton was set up in October 1999 as a 50-50 limited partnership between Brixton and Equitable Life.
The property group has now sold the majority of its interest in the partnership to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Prudential, which itself has injected additional funds into Equiton, bringing its total investment up to £50m.
Prudential was advised by Berwin Leighton Paisner partners Roger Buck and Frances McLeman.
This combination of the transfer of an investment and the injection of fresh equity into an existing fund is particularly unusual. It presented the Camerons team with a number of legal and tax obstacles to overcome.
Brixton retains an 8.8 per cent stake while remaining manager of the fund, and is solely responsible for sourcing new investments on a revised fee basis. The Camerons team was closely involved in the revision of this fee structure.
“The result enables Brixton to leverage its specialist experience to enhance returns, and has created a solid foundation for Equiton to grow in the future,” said Hearnden. “This was the evolution of something we'd already worked on. I very much hope that we can preserve a relationship with Brixton.”
Equitable Life was advised by Nichola West and Paul Lester at Denton Wilde Sapte.