Clifford Chance leads private equity

Clifford Chance is leading the way in the private equity stakes after completing two high-profile deals in as many weeks.

The firm acted for Bourne Leisure and equity providers Candover and Legal & General Ventures on the £700m buyout of Rank’s UK holiday division.

Corporate partner Adam Signy led a 45-strong team on the deal while Eversheds‘ Birmingham office provided advice on property issues to Bourne Leisure as it has been a client of the firm for 25 years.

Freshfields advised Rank on the sale while Stephen Gillespie, finance partner at Allen & Overy, acted for Barclays Capital Finance, which provided £600m senior debt and £80m mezzanine for the transaction.

The deal cements Clifford Chance’s relationship with both Candover and Legal & General Ventures. The latter private equity house has a strong relationship with another major player in private equity, Ashurst Morris Crisp. However, because the buyer was part of a consortium, it opted for Clifford Chance in this case.

Clifford Chance was also involved in the $1.2bn (£830m) sale of Laporte’s water technology, timber treatment and electronics division to US equity house KKR.

Corporate partner Daniel Kossoff led a team of 10 on the deal. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett provided US advice.

Goldman Sachs, Chase Manhattan and Merrill Lynch provided both senior debt and mezzanine on the deal and were advised by Cravath Swaine & Moore.

Within the past two months, Clifford Chance has also acted on two other major private equity deals.

The firm advised in the $2.3bn (£1.58bn) leveraged buyout (LBO) of VEBA Electronics and for HSBC Private Equity on the LBO of the automotive friction division of BBA Group.

Weil Gotshal & Manges also acted on the VEBA deal which included senior debt, high-yield and recievables securitisation.

James Chesterman, former finance partner at Weil Gotshal, advised Chase Manhattan and Barlcays Capital just before leaving to join Latham & Watkins (The Lawyer, 11 August).

James Baird, head of private equity at Clifford Chance, estimates that the firm has acted on at least two dozen successful UK deals this calendar year in the UK.

He says: “A number of the old economy plcs are selling off bits of the companies if they are not considered fashionable in the marketplace. Private equity companies will pick these up and wait for them to come round again, which they can then sell on.”