Baker & McKenzie in the driving seat on 3i buyout of SR Technics

Baker & McKenzie has bagged its first major instruction in 20 years from 3i. The firm has been brought in to advise the venture capital group in connection with the acquisition of SR Technics Switzerland, formerly part of Swissair. The deal is Europe's largest management buyout in the transport and logistics sector this year.

The Lawyer understands that 3i instructed Baker & McKenzie because of the firm's presence in Zurich. Baker & McKenzie is one of a few international firms with a Swiss office.

Zurich-based private equity partners Martin Frey and Martin Furrer are advising on the deal, which is valued at £272m including additional investment in the business with equity provided by 3i, Star Capital Partners and the management.

SR Technics, which provides comprehensive technical support for aircraft, engines and components, is the last major business unit to be sold in relation to last year's Swissair administration. The completion of the deal, which has been agreed between the parties, including SR Technics' indirect parent SAirGroup, is subject to the approval of the administrator and the Swiss courts together with the European Commission. This is expected to take between four to eight weeks.

David Osborne, director of 3i, said: “3i's investment in SR Technics reflects a willingness to make continued investment in the aviation market as well as to buyout transactions.”

3i has made several investments in the airline industry, including its acquisition of Go from British Airways for £110m, which was then sold to EasyJet for £374m. With many of its middle-market investments struggling, the perception is that 3i is increasingly willing to be involved in the big deals.

Osborne said: “SR Technics is a market-leading business, and together with the ambitious and committed management team, we will steer the company to achieve significant growth over the next years through extending its customer base and growing the range of services provided.”

In addition to the equity funding, Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland provided additional finance of an undisclosed amount. The banks were advised by Ashurst Morris Crisp London partner Mark Vickers.

Vickers said: “This deal shows the long reach of 3i, which managed to agree a Swiss-domiciled transaction funded by UK-based banks.”

Additionally, partner Andras Turovits of Swiss firm Niederer Kraft & Frey advised SR Technics' management, while partner Gianpaolo Arrigoni of Bär & Karrer advised the banks on all aspects of Swiss law. Star Capital Partners was advised by Norton Rose.