Clifford Chance, Hogan Lovells and Travers Smith secured the top mandates on Barclays Private Equity’s (BPE) £119m acquisition of post-production business The Mill.
Global private equity head David Walker led the Clifford Chance team acting for longstanding client BPE alongside banking and finance partner James Butters. Travers Smith acted for seller The Carlyle Group, fielding a team led by private equity partner Ian Shawyer and featuring tax partner Simon Skinner. Latham & Watkins advised Carlyle on its original purchase of The Mill in 2007 from 3i.
London banking partner Stuart Brinkworth led a Hogan Lovells team acting for mandated lead arrangers Bank of Ireland (BoI), GE Capital and Lloyds TSB on the financing of the transaction. Brinkworth was joined on the deal by New York finance partner Russell DaSilva and City corporate partner Philip Watkins.
The transatlantic firm is on a preferred adviser list for both BoI and Lloyds, while it also enjoys a relationship with Marlborough, which acted as financial adviser on the deal.
The sale was arranged as a pre-emptive auction transaction, with several other bidders understood to have been waiting in the wings.
Brinkworth said: “There was a lot of interest as it’s quite a sexy asset and the business has been growing in recent years.”
The Mill provides special effects for films, TV shows and advertisements. It has won an Academy Award for its work on Gladiator and a Bafta for its work on BBC drama Doctor Who. It has offices in London, New York and Los Angeles.
For Travers the deal marked the second private equity transaction carried out for Carlyle in a little over a month after March saw the firm act for the buyout house on its acquisition of The Foundry, another visual effects specialist.
The City firm began acting for Carlyle’s European technologies fund following a beauty contest 18 months ago.
Shawyer commented: “The Mill and The Foundry are interesting businesses. The deals have come along in close succession and that’s a good sign for the future.”
Dickson Minto acted for The Mill’s management, with a team led by private equity partner Martin McNair.