MBR&M conflict gifts Nabarros Sloane deal

Nabarro Nathanson advised Sloane Blackfriars Limited on its £170m acquisition of Unilever House after Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw (MBR&M) was forced to pass on the instruction because of a conflict of interest.

An insider at MBR&M confirmed that Sloane Blackfriars had originally approached the firm regarding the sale and leaseback of the landmark Unilever House. However, MBR&M was forced to refer the matter to Nabarros because the firm had already accepted an instruction from long-standing client Unilever regarding the deal.

As part of the £170m sale and leaseback agreement, it is understood that Unilever will continue to occupy the building, which is the site of its global headquarters, as part of a 25-year lease arrangement.

The acquisition was Nabarros’ first instruction from Sloane Blackfriars, which is the investment vehicle set up for the acquisition by a group of Irish investors, including horse-racing magnates John Magnier and JP McManus.

The purchase is understood to be Magnier and McManus’ first foray into the UK property market. However, it was quickly followed by the £575m acquisition of Westminster Healthcare by the duo’s nursing home business Barchester.

Jeremy Clay led the team from MBR&M advising Unilever, assisted by James Dodsworth, Rachel Mace, Andrew Hepner and tax partner Peter Steiner. Meanwhile, Simon Staite led the team from Nabarros, assisted by Kim McMurray on banking, Paul Beausang on tax and Dominic Bauers on real estate.

Addleshaw Goddard was also involved in the deal, acting for Sloane Blackfriars’ lender Anglo Irish Bank Corporation. Mark Gilbert led the firm’s team, assisted by Emmett Peters.