Hogan Lovells and Linklaters take brilliant cut on Graff Diamonds refinancing

Hogan Lovells and Linklaters have leveraged relationships with Barclays and Graff Diamonds respectively to advise on a $450m (£280m) refinancing deal that pumps funds into the London jeweller following its pulled IPO earlier this year.

Stuart Brinkworth
Stuart Brinkworth

The package from a trio of banks follows the company’s decision to pull its $1bn listing in Hong Kong in May after it failed to receive the interest it hoped for amid difficult market conditions.

Linklaters advised Graff on the latest financing after winning a pitch to guide the 52-year-old jeweller through the proposed IPO, on which legacy Herbert Smith advised the underwriters.

The magic circle firm’s London team was led by banking partner Tom Wells alongside banking managing associate Lee Federman.

Graff was advised in-house by general counsel and former Linklaters managing associate Alex Molla.

Hogan Lovells’ team for lenders Standard Chartered, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was led by London banking partner Stuart Brinkworth. He worked with London of counsel Angus Gill, New York banking partner Russell DaSilva and Hong Kong banking partner Gary Hamp.

Background to this deal:

Hogan Lovells’ Brinkworth started advising Graff’s lenders, Barclays and Standard Chartered, on a financing facility for the company last year after being approached by longstanding client Barclays. He also led for the banks in the run-up to its proposed IPO earlier in 2012, with Wells at Linklaters advising the jeweller on finance matters shortly before the planned float.

The failed listing itself saw mandates given to Linklaters City corporate partners John Lane and Jason Manketo and Hong Kong corporate partner Robert Cleaver for the company and legacy Herbert Smith (now Herbert Smith Freehills) global capital markets head Steve Thierbach in London for the underwriters. These included joint global co-ordinators Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Last year’s financing facility saw Brinkworth advise Barclays and Standard Chartered, with RBS only added to the banking syndicate for the latest deal. The lead bank was Standard Chartered, which instructed Hogan Lovells on the consortium’s behalf without the need for a pitch process.

Hogan Lovells is an established adviser to Barclays and has a place on its general advisory panel, which is up for review next year (1 July 2011).

Graff, meanwhile, picked Linklaters as its IPO adviser following a competitive tender process in the lead-up to the attempted float, with Manketo and Lane leading on the pitch. The firm’s relationship with Graff is jointly managed by Lane, Manketo and Wells. Current general counsel Molla went on secondment to the company in early 2012 while a managing associate at Linklaters and stayed on at the group to become its legal chief.