Dentons loses new client as partner takes GMAC to Sidley

Denton Wilde Sapte has bagged an instruction from the world’s biggest property lender GMAC Commercial Mortgage Bank on its first foray into the UK market. However, the relationship will be short-lived as client partner Debbie Carslaw leaves Dentons in a month’s time taking GMAC with her.

GMAC Commercial Mortgage Bank (a subsidiary of GMAC Commercial Holdings, which in turn is a subsidiary of General Motors) provided financing for the £130m purchase of two City properties – Furness House and James Capel House – by a private offshore investor.

Property finance partner Carslaw led the Dentons team. She is due to join Sidley Austin Brown & Wood in January and will take GMAC to her new firm.

Carslaw was gifted the instruction by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher UK property partner Alan Samson, who was acting for the acquirer. Samson has a strong relationship with GMAC in the US, and knows Kathy Gleason, who set up the company’s UK office a year ago.

“I’ve introduced them [GMAC] to my partners on the West Coast,” said Samson. “I have worked with that relationship since I’ve been at Gibson Dunn.” Samson joined the firm from Nabarro Nathanson in 2000.

The win is also something of a coup because the company has used two magic circle firms on previous European deals, but in the UK opted for Carslaw. It also snubbed Dechert – a firm it uses along with Gibson Dunn for such work in the US.

“It’s a nice new client, and there’ll be more work in the future,” Carslaw said. Since closing this deal, she has received three further instructions from the company.

Samson said: “This is a very exciting new entrant to the UK market. The US entrants are coming back for the first time since the early 1990s.”

GMAC Commercial Holdings originated $19bn (£12.2bn) in loans in 2001 and services a loan portfolio exceeding $150bn (£96.4bn).

Samson was assisted by Nick Turner, Kate Temple and Richard Wilkinson (property and finance), Nicholas Aleksander (tax) and Jake Pidcock (corporate).

Berwin Leighton Paisner real estate associate Vicky Stokes advised Prudential on the sale of Furness House to the acquirer. This is one of the pieces of run-off work the firm is doing for Prudential after it was dropped in the PruPIM shake-up earlier this year.

Nicholson Graham & Jones property partner Richard Smith led a team acting for longstanding client Heron, the seller of James Capel House.

The Dentons team also included banking associate Jane Allen and property associate Pamela Clarke.