Chesterman takes CSFB telecoms deal to Lathams

Latham & Watkins' London office has snatched its first senior debt telecoms deal out of the grasp of rival Weil Gotshal & Manges.

The deal involves advising Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) and Salomon Brothers International on the restructuring of a senior multi-currency term loan and revolving credit facilities to DiAx, the Swiss telecoms company.

It is the first deal of this kind that the office has completed since the arrival of James Chesterman, the former head of banking from Weil Gotshal & Manges' London office.

Chesterman joined in August as an acquisition finance partner, adding senior debt capability to Lathams' high-yield debt practice (The Lawyer, 14 August).

Chesterman advised the banks on the original syndicated loan when he was at Weil Gotshal, working alongside the former joint head of the office, Maurice Allen. Allen joined White & Case's London office subsequently (The Lawyer, 1 May).

The restructuring of the loan and facilities is being undertaken following DiAx's purchase by Teledanmark and its merger with Sunrise Communications, another Swiss phone company.

Freshfields represented DiAx, with a team led by head of banking Edward Evans. Local firm Gorrissen Federspiel Kierkegaard represented Teledanmark. The total value of the deal was SFr865m (£360m).

CSFB, which recently merged with Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, is one of Lathams' biggest clients. The firm did not work on the original DiAx deal because it was lacking sufficient senior debt capability in the London office. That office had been doing mainly project finance work for CSFB until now.

Chesterman says: “One of the most challenging things is that we were basically moving from a situation where you have a company with a lot of debt, a new mobile phone company, and you're trying to amend things so that it can build its business and then it gets bought by Teledanmark.

“That gives it better credit and you have to work out how to restructure it and still protect the banks, and you have to do it pretty quickly.”