Insolvency mandate analysis: Unhappy snaps

In the first of our regular round-ups of the deals and legal personalities of the month just passed, casualties of the credit crunch were to the fore, including Jessops


January was characterised by the flurry of high street casualties, confirming that Christmas had not halted the market gloom. Ashurst partner Giles Boothman advised Jessops in the run-up to its administration, while SNR Denton partner Rachel Anthony and managing associate Robert Spedding (see Associate of the Month) acted for administrators at PricewaterhouseCoopers on the filing and takeover of the camera retailer’s brand by Dragons’ Den’s Peter Jones, advised by Lawrence Graham partner Brett Israel.

Days later, the HMV administration gave roles to Linklaters partners Richard Hodgson and Richard Bussell for the Deloitte administrators, while banking partner Chris Howard advised the company’s banks. Salans partner Jonathan Polin advised Hilco in its purchase of HMV’s £176m debt.

CMS Cameron McKenna partner Rita Lowe is advising another Deloitte team on the administration of Blockbuster UK, the video rental chain, while Linklaters partner Dan Dufner is acting for its US parent company.

Shearman & Sterling won new client Liberty Global on its $23.3bn (£14.8bn) takeover of Virgin Media, with New York partners George Casey and Eliza Swann plus London partner Jeremy Kutner at the helm. Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson led for Virgin, but the main UK roles were on the financing, with Ropes & Gray City partner Jane Rogers leading for Liberty. The banks led by Credit Suisse split the role: Allen & Overy partners Philip Bowden, Robin Harvey, Jonathan Brownson, Greg Brown, Daniel Shurman and Kevin Muzilla advised them on banking matters, while Latham & Watkins London partners Scott Colwell and Tracy Edmonson advised on bonds.

The month also saw the trend for Asian takeovers of UK utilities companies continue: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners Claire Wills and Martin Nelson-Jones advised Aqueduct Capital on its sale of Sutton & East Surrey Water to Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, advised by Herbert Smith Freehills partner Malcolm Lombers and lead associate Daniel Driscoll.

In real estate, Nabarro sealed Google’s acquisition of new headquarters at King’s Cross, with partner Marie Scott leading for the new client. Berwin Leighton Paisner partner Andrew Sanders and Hogan Lovells partners Michael Gallimore, Gill McGreevy and Gillian Thomas advised the landowners, King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership. The deal is said to be worth more than £500m.

Elsewhere, pub group Admiral Taverns was sold by Lloyds Banking Group to private equity group Cerberus Capital Management for £200m. Addleshaw Goddard partners Philip Goodstone and Yunus Seedat advised Admiral Taverns’ shareholders and management, while Linklaters partner Matthew Elliott led for Cerberus. Hogan Lovells partner Richard Ufland advised Lloyds.

In a smaller deal, the £6m management buyout of Anglia Business Solutions saw EMW principal Ian Morris lead for new client Anglia and Shoosmiths partner Lynn Knight advise backer WestBridge Capital. Morgan Cole partners Michael Stace and Guy Constant advises the Co-operative Bank, which provided £1.5m in funding.

And RPC’s strong run continued, with partner Stephen Smith winning a competitive pitch against a magic and a silver circle firm to advise Ofcom on the high-profile 4G auction (see Partner of the Month).

January deals with UK involvement

Slaughter and May had a strong month, based on just two deals: Manchester Airport Group’s $2.4bn acquisition of Stansted Airport. Partners Frances Murphy and Jeff Twentyman led for MAG. Partners Andrew Jolly in London and Neil Hyman in Hong Kong advised Cable & Wireless Communications on the $749.7m sale of its controlling stake in Macau telecoms group Companhia de Telecomunicações de Macau to CITIC Telecom International.

Italian firms ranking high is explained by CVC Capital’s $1.5bn acquisition of Italian credit information provider Cerved Group, which gave advisory roles to Kirkland & Ellis, Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati, Vitali Romagnoli Piccardi & Associati and Gattai Minoli & Partners for Cerved. CVC was advised by Chiomenti Studio Legal, Kirkland & Ellis and Facchini Rossi Scarioni. Gattai Minoli was set up by former Dewey & LeBoeuf Italy head Bruno Gattai, who originally joined Grimaldi Studio Legale from the US firm last year.

uk deals

Source Thomson Reuters *joint

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