Freshfields, Goodbodys in £15m Eircom sweep

Magic circle firm in fee bonanza; £9m bill on Eircom and £11m on Carnival

It has emerged that Ireland's biggest ever take private Eircom yielded almost £15m in fees for the two main advisers to the victorious Valentia consortium: Dublin firm A&L Goodbody and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Goodbodys billed e8.5m (£5.8m) in fees on the M&A deal, part of which has been paid in Eircom shares. It is also understood that Freshfields earned around e13.5m (£9.1m) from the take private and a subsequent stalled asset-backed bond issue by Eircom.

In the past, some partners of top Dublin firms have benefited personally from share options paid in lieu of fees. However, Goodbodys managing partner Paul Carroll told The Lawyer that the shares were a partial deferred payment from Valentia and that there are certain restrictions on when the firm can cash them in. He said the money would be spent and distributed in the same manner as any other fee income.

Freshfields had a large corporate team on the Eircom take private, which worked from May 2001 through to that October before the deal closed in December. Work on the securitisation began last year.

Freshfields is also understood to have billed around £11m so far on the three-way P&O Princess-Carnival-Royal Caribbean battle. The firm worked on both the P&O-Royal Caribbean merger and agreement and the subsequent takeover by Carnival, which is still ongoing. Regulatory advice formed a large chunk of the P&O fees, as Freshfields advised on the competing deals at US, UK and EU levels.

Eircom saw two rival bidders, led by HJ Heinz chief executive Anthony O'Reilly and telecoms entrepreneur Denis O'Brien, fight to the wire for former state-owned fixed-line telecoms company Eircom. Other members of the Valentia consortium included Soros Private Equity Partners, represented by Macfarlanes, Goldman Sachs and Providence Equity Partners, advised by Debevoise and Plimpton.