Freshfields back on Deutsche Telekom selloff with Apax bid

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has advised the winning bidders for Deutsche Telekom's remaining cable businesses – a year after it advised previous bidder Liberty Media Corp.

A year ago, Liberty Media, which was advised by Freshfields' Frankfurt partner Thomas Tschentscher, was knocked out of the running by the German competition authorities.

This time round, the magic circle firm still managed to cover most of the bases on the $1.86bn (£1.13bn) deal. A Freshfields team led by Munich corporate partner Peter Nussbaum and a Debevoise & Plimpton team led by London managing partner Andrew Sommer advised a consortium of financial buyers, which included Apax Partners, Providence Equity partners and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.

Goldman Sachs Capital Partners also retained Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy London partner Michael Goroff.

Debevoise's role centred on long-term client Providence Equity, which led the tax structuring and fund-related negotiations for the consortium.

Different Freshfields offices had originally advised both Apax and Goldman Sachs as separate bidders in the auction process, but when the Goldman-Permira bid fell apart last year, Goldman Sachs joined the Apax consortium and brought in Freshfields Cologne partner Stephan Eilers as part of the team.

The deal, which has kickstarted the German M&A market this year, is part of Deutsche Telekom's programme of divestment in attempting to trim its debt load. Freshfields' Nussbaum said: “It will be one of the year's big transactions. It's not a hit and run deal – there's an ongoing relationship with Deutsche Telekom.”

Deutsche Telekom in-house lawyers Günter Schumann and Reiner Franker led the deal, along with usual outside counsel Hengeler Mueller. Hengeler fielded a team led by Frankfurt partners Peter Jäckle and Achim Herfs.

Allen & Overy, continuing a long run of success in the German acquisition finance market, advised Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as senior lenders. Its team included Frankfurt partner Peter Stez, Hamburg partner Helge Schäfer and London partners Heather McCallum and Angela Clist.

Market sources say that the banks are understood to be looking at a number of financing options, including a bridge to a securitisation – something rarely seen in Germany.

The cable sector has kept a number of private equity houses busy in the past few months. Providence Equity was visible on another major transaction in the sector, the €665m (£438.1m) acquisition of Casema Holding, the third largest cable television operator in the Netherlands, from France Telecom. For that deal Providence once again turned to usual outside counsel Debevoise.