Herbert Smith and SJ Berwin advise on Musgrave’s supermarket sweep

Herbert Smith and SJ Berwin advised on Musgrave Investment’s takeover of UK retail supermarket chain Budgens.
A Herbert Smith team led by Gavin Davies and Gareth Roberts advised longstanding client Budgens on a takeover offer by privately owned Irish supermarket company Musgrave. The offer, which is worth around £231.6m, has been recommended by the UK firm’s board.
Musgrave already owns around 27.8 per cent of Budgens’ share capital and approximately 99 per cent of the company’s loan stock. The Irish company bought the Budgens shares in 2000, following a decision to expand beyond its Irish base.
Musgrave initially awarded work to SJ Berwin on the 2000 transaction and since then the firm has acted as Musgrave’s UK counsel. When Musgrave decided to consolidate its interest last year, SJ Berwin was its automatic choice.
Musgrave instructed Arthur Cox and SJ Berwin at the tail end of last year. SJ Berwin partners Robert Burrows, David Parkes, Philip Goldenberg, Paul Dim and Tom O’Grady worked on the deal alongside Arthur Cox partner Mark Saunders and relationship partner Ronan Walsh.
Although there is no exclusivity between Arthur Cox and SJ Berwin, the two have a close relationship and share some of SJ Berwin’s most important Irish corporate clients, including the Fyffes fruit company.
SJ Berwin dealt with UK Takeover Code issues and UK competition law, while Arthur Cox dealt with the funding documents and Irish competition law. Burrows at SJ Berwin said: “It’s a reversal of the trends of a number of years to see an Irish company making a major investment in UK retailing.”
The deal was arranged by Barclays Capital and underwritten by Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Barclays Bank and Ulster Bank. Linklaters advised the banks, together with Irish firm A&L Goodbody and Northern Irish firm L’Estrange & Brett.
Until the start of this year, Goodbodys had an exclusive referral arrangement with Northern Irish firm Elliot Duffy Garrett, but Goodbodys has now demonstrated its willingness to work with other firms. L’Estrange has a cross-border alliance with Republic of Ireland firm McCann FitzGerald. When the Goodbodys-Elliot Duffy partnership was broken off, the two firms said they would continue to work together on most cross-border deals.