SJ Berwin has secured its largest mandate from CVC Capital Partners, acting for the private equity group on negotiations to buy Barclays subsidiary iShares after regular adviser Clifford Chance was conflicted out.
Barclays is holding exclusive talks with CVC to sell the San Francisco-based exchange traded funds business, in a deal thought to be worth at least £3bn.
Clifford Chance partner Guy Norman is representing Barclays, alongside Sullivan & Cromwell in the US.
SJ Berwin will act as CVC’s UK counsel. This is the firm’s second major instruction from the global private equity group. Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft is understood to be representing CVC in the US.
SJ Berwin only recently won a place on CVC’s roster of advisers, which also features Clifford Chance, Kirkland & Ellis and White & Case.
The firm’s first mandate for CVC was in 2007, acting on the £950m buyout of luggage-maker Samsonite. It won the deal through its Milan office, with Italian corporate partner Alberto Morano leading the team. UK corporate partner Nicholas Plant and Steven Davis also worked on the transaction.
Kirkland was initially involved in the iShares negotiations, acting for rival bidder Bain Capital, but dropped out when Barclays entered into exclusive talks with CVC. London-based corporate partner Jim Learner advised Bain.
Cadwalader’s mandate came as a result of its private equity hiring spree, which saw the US firm take on three new partners at the beginning of 2008.
One of those was Kirkland partner Geoffrey Levin, who has close links with CVC after acting on its $2bn (£1.35bn) acquisition of Univar in 2007.
Clifford Chance has been Barclays’ main legal adviser throughout the economic crisis, with Norman acting on its £7bn investment from the Middle East and head of global private equity James Baird advising on its proposed investment in Royal Mail.