Simpson Thacher grabs slice of TDR

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

has scored a first instruction from private equity house TDR Capital thanks to the connections of Ashurst old boy Stephen Short.

The US firm was contacted by TDR on its bid for pizza chain Ask Central and subsequently gifted Herbert Smith yet another choice referral, instructing the City firm on the equity aspects of the deal.

TDR has in the past used Slaughter and May, but Slaughters was already advising the financial adviser of Ask Central’s rival suitor, the Restaurant Group.

Short’s client contacts were not a key consideration in his recruitment by white shoe giant Simpson Thacher. But it was his links to TDR partners Stephen Robertson and Manjit Dale, formerly of Deutsche Bank, that won the US firm the instruction.

Short is advising TDR on the debt aspects of its bid for Ask Central, but called on Herbert Smith corporate partner Tim Bellis to do the equity work. Herbert Smith has very strong referral ties to the US firm and narrowly beat Lovells to an instruction from KKR on its bid for Safeway thanks to a Simpson Thacher referral.

Slaughters was brought in on TDR’s bid for PizzaExpress last year when Hugh Osmond pulled out of the deal.

Slaughters had agreed fees for a whole series of Osmond deals, including a £1m ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement for a joint bid by Hugh Osmond and Capricorn Venture Partners on PizzaExpress. When Osmond pulled out, TDR, which replaced him, inherited Slaughters and its fee structure.

TDR was the primary investor in Ask Central, but the private equity house’s fellow PizzaExpress owner Capricorn also had a role in the bid. Clifford Chance partner Johnny Myers, who has also acted for Osmond, advised Capricorn on its interests. Howard Kennedy advised established client Ask Central. Lovells partner Nick Parden advised the target’s investment bank Merrill Lynch.