City firms clinch top privatisation

ASHURST Morris Crisp led a number of top City firms in the Government's £1.8 billion sale of the three rolling stock leasing companies (ROSCOs), the largest-ever privatisation by direct sale in the UK.

Lawyers gave advice on issues from finance and tax to intellectual property and IT in the run-up to the contract signing.

Ashursts' banking and finance department handled £1 billion of debt financing for the acquisition of two of the ROSCO leasing companies.

On the Porterbrook Leasing Company acquisition, Ashursts acted for Bankers Trust as arranger and underwriter of senior debt facilities totalling £490 million, together with associated hedging.

Partner Stephen Mostyn-Williams, leading the Ashursts team, said: “The ROSCO sales by way of leveraged buy-outs are significant for the sheer size of financing alone, notwithstanding the complex legal issues involved where a market is being created out of a previously State-owned sector.”

Porterbrook was acquired by Charterhouse Development Capital and a management team in a £565 million management and employee buy-out. Simmons & Simmons advised Charterhouse and Porterbrook. Corporate partner William Charnley led the team. Pinsent Curtis partner Leon Flavell advised the management team.

Ashursts acted for the equity side on Eversholt Leasing, probably this year's largest buy-out valued at up to £580 million. A 12-lawyer Ashursts team, led by corporate head Geoffrey Green and Graeme Ward, acted for Candover Partners, which led the bidding consortium, and for the bidding company Eversholt Holdings.

Clifford Chance advised Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, which led a banking syndicate providing debt funding for Eversholt.

Herbert Smith, led by banking head Clive Barnard and partner Gareth Roberts acted for Eversholt Leasing.

In the third bid for Angel Leasing, McKenna & Co advised the consortium including Japanese Bank Nomura International and asset and project finance advisers Babcock & Brown, and set up the Great British Rolling Stock Company. Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May advised their clients Nomura and Babcock & Brown respectively.