Sidley sidelined as sultan picks Mayer Brown for Dorchester deal

Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw has scooped its first financing deal for the Sultan of Brunei, who historically has used Sidley Austin Brown & Wood.
Mayer Brown finance partner Simon Pullen, who led the financing from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on behalf of the Dorchester Group, was given the work partly on the basis of a finance transaction he handled at Frere Cholmeley, which has since been taken over by Eversheds, for Dorchester in 1984.
Pullen was then involved with the sale of the group to Regent Hotel. Six months later, the Dorchester was sold to the sultan, who placed the group within his Brunei Investment Agency.
Pullen also acted for the Dorchester Group in 2001 in relation to the financing behind its purchase of the Meurice Hotel in Paris. Soon after this deal Pullen left Eversheds for Mayer Brown.
In this latest transaction, the Dorchester Group bought Italy’s trophy Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan from the Starwood Group, which handled the work in-house. RBS, represented by Addleshaw Goddard, provided £229m of financing.
Sidley acted for the Dorchester Group in relation to the acquisition, which was completed in February, and its London office advised on US law in the financing. Magic circle Italian firm Chiomenti Studio Legale advised on Italian law in relation to the financing.
Historically, the Sultan of Brunei has used Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and, most recently, Sidley on financing work for the Dorchester. Sources say that the instruction of Mayer Brown in this instance is the cause of some disappointment for Sidley.
Pullen said he was able to take advantage of Italian rules permitting high levels of debt compared with the comparatively low amount of equity put in. He also had to work within tight deadlines as the deal had to be completed by June, but RBS did not receive credit committee approval until May.