BLP beats rivals for giant GUS financing

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has won out against Linklaters to scoop its first major financing deal for retail group GUS plc.

BLP, Linklaters and one other firm were asked to pitch on a transaction that saw the company sign a new £900m multi-currency five-year committed credit facility.

Historically, BLP has advised GUS on mainly commercial and real estate issues while Linklaters is the company’s firm of choice on corporate matters.

For example the firm acted on GUS’s £900m purchase of Homebase Group from Permira in December 2002.

Peter Blythe, group finance director at GUS confirmed BLP’s appointment. Though he said: “I can’t comment on why Linklaters wasn’t chosen but it’s not a matter of changing our advisers.”

GUS was heavily involved in arranging the facility, which will be used to finance existing debt and borrowings that are due to mature this year, with advice from Cazenove.

This follows a similar move the company made on the sale of its home shopping division to the Barclays brothers in June last year when GUS completed the sale by relying on its in-house expertise instead of taking external investment banking advice.

Blythe said: “This gave us a greater degree of control. We also didn’t have to pay an arrangement fee,”

BLP’s team was led by banking partner Marc Palley with assistance from Jennifer Mackerras, head of the firm’s banking and capital markets group.

While a syndicate of 15-banks was advised by Allen & Overy’s banking partner Mike Duncan.