White & Case joins race for UK jumbos

The London office of White & Case has captured its first jumbo acquisition financing from under the nose of the magic circle.

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance normally scoop the bulk of jumbo deals, but White & Case has managed a foot in the door via its Morgan Stanley Dean Witter relationship.

White & Case is acting for Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank on the $8.5bn (£5.8bn) syndicated acquisition financing for publishing giant Reed Elsevier, to fund its purchase of US-based publisher Harcourt General.

The partners leading the deal were US-qualified Mike Goetz and, from the UK, Maurice Allen and Magdalene Bayim-Adomako, who both joined from Weil Gotshal & Manges earlier this year.

Goetz transferred to London in May from the firm’s acquisition finance practice in New York. It is his relationship with Morgan Stanley that won the firm the work.

White & Case capital markets partner Colin Potter says: “Mike came over from New York and has been a leveraged finance lawyer for a considerable number of years. He knows a number of investment banks which are already in London, and he’d renewed those relationships, particularly with some of the guys at Morgan Stanley.”

Morgan Stanley executive director Kevin Adeson met the UK-qualified partners, and was satisfied that they could handle the deal.

Goetz says: “This type of jumbo acquisition financing of a US company by a European investor plays to the strengths of our newly-created US-UK acquisition finance capability in London.”

Large acquisition finance deals are high profile and because the investment banks can charge a lot for underwriting them, the legal fees can be higher than on other debt finance transactions.

A&O head of banking David Morley says: “Unfortunately, we can’t do every deal.”