Travers leads as ‘Project New Bank’ targets state assets

Travers Smith has bagged a lead role advising on the creation of a new banking venture that will target state-owned assets.

Head of corporate Spencer Summerfield and corporate finance partner Anthony Foster are leading the Travers team acting for the new client.

The initial plans for the entity would see it seeking an AIM listing in the next month before looking to buy up retail arms of state-run banks such as Lloyds ­Banking Group, RBS and Northern Rock. Acquisitions would be backed by institutional investors, already thought to be in place to participate in the listing.

“The key is to get the cash shell up and running,” said Summerfield. “Fundraising’s in the bag for any ­listing, but the strategic aim is to buy bank assets.”

The mandate came about as a result of the City firm’s existing relationships with broker Cenkos and corporate finance advisory firm Kinmont. Summerfield worked with Cenkos on its 2006 AIM flotation and on a number of deals since.

“It’s a great deal for us to be on,” he added.

Cenkos and Kinmont are understood to be advising the new bank on its initial listing. Fund managers including Aviva Investors, F&C Asset Management and Invesco Perpetual are already thought to have agreements in place to invest following the listing.

The investment vehicle, currently known as ’Project New Bank’, will be run by Lloyds of London chairman Lord Levene and former Bank of England director Sir David Walker, who has also led the Government’s inquiry into banking ­governance.

The creation of the new bank could be good news for magic circle firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, which could expect to win mandates should the new bank target the retail arms of Lloyds, Northern Rock or RBS.

Linklaters has been the go-to adviser for both Lloyds and RBS since the start of the credit crisis, with new corporate chief Jeremy Parr acting for Lloyds and banking head Robert Elliot on the RBS account alongside corporate partner Matthew Middleditch.

Northern Rock has traditionally turned to Freshfields for advice, although Slaughter and May could also expect to land a role having advised the Government on the nationalisation the failed lender in 2007.