City quartet pitch in on £121m sale of BBC magazine portfolio

Hogan Lovells, Olswang, SJ Berwin and Travers Smith won advisory roles on BBC Worldwide’s £121m sale of magazine titles including Radio Times and Top Gear to Exponent ­Private Equity.

BBC Worldwide: will retain editorial interests in sold-off titles
BBC Worldwide: will retain editorial interests in sold-off titles

The deal sees Exponent acquire 11 BBC magazines including Radio Times, olive and Gardens Illustrated. The private equity house will acquire the licence to 18 further titles more closely associated with the BBC brand, including Top Gear, Gardeners’ World, BBC Music and BBC Wildlife, as part of a special publishing agreement under which BBC Worldwide keeps ­editorial interests in the publications.

Hogan Lovells acted for the lenders, GE Capital, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays Bank, fielding a team led by banking partner Stuart Brinkworth.

Olswang, one of the BBC’s longstanding transactional advisers, fielded a team led by corporate partner Simon Morgan advising BBC Worldwide on the deal.

Morgan was assisted by TMT partners Selina Potter and Victoria Gaskell, tax head Mark Joscelyne, as well as corporate associate Tom Crease.

Corporate partner Ian Shawyer led the Travers team advising Exponent, one of the City firm’s longstanding private equity clients. He was assisted by solicitor Lucinda Bowman.

Travers is one of Exponent’s go-to firms for deals, alongside Allen & Overy, whose private equity partner Derek Baird won the client for the magic circle firm following his move from Lovells, legacy firm of Hogan Lovells, in 2006.

Philip Sanderson is the main relationship partner on the Exponent account, having advised the client on a number of investments including the £140m acquisition of Pattonair from Umeco earlier this year (The Lawyer, 30 May).

Although Sanderson had some involvement in the BBC transaction, he was away during the height of the deal, meaning Shawyer took over the reins.

Travers competition partner Nigel Seay was called in to advise on the antitrust aspects and the Office of Fair Trading review, which was called as a standard procedure due to the size of the deal and because Exponent has interests in the consumer publishing industry through its investment in publisher Magicalia.

SJ Berwin competition head Stephen Kon advised the BBC on these matters. SJ Berwin is the BBC’s established outside firm for competition law.

The deal, announced in August, has been signed but has not yet closed.