Wragges wraps up Nomura’s £245m Earls Court purchase

Wragges wraps up Nomura’s £245m Earls Court purchase” />Wragge & Co has closed its first deal for new client Nomura, completing the £245m acquisition of the Earls Court and Olympia complex on 7 May.

The managing director and head of Nomura’s asset finance group Derek Vago first instructed Wragges after a recommendation from an existing Wragges client, although Vago will not say which.

Wragges then worked with regular Nomura adviser Lovells on the Japanese investment bank’s failed bid for Scottish & Newcastle’s retail operations last year.

Vago said: “We worked for the first time with Wragge & Co in tandem with one of our core City firms [Lovells]. We’ve been so impressed by the quality of their work that we’ve decided to use them solo for major assignments and include them as one of our core law firms.”

Wragges corporate partner Nick Smith led the team, which also included head of transaction services (due diligence) David Vaughan and head of debt finance Chris Brierley.

Smith said: “It worked very well with the Wragge & Co model, which is to service City-centric transactions, drawing on the heavier Birmingham resource and applying it through the London office.”

Nomura provided the debt finance and took a minority equity stake in Earls Court and Olympia. Coudert Brothers’ London managing partner Dean Poster advised the buyer, St James Capital Group.

St James Capital Group is a private property fund, spun out of leisure company Davis Coffer Lyons, a long-term client of Poster’s.

Travers Smith Braithwaite partner Chris Hale advised the sellers, Candover Investments and the Morris Family Trust. Candover is a long-term client of the firm.

The deal was complicated by a prior agreement that the exhibition centre has with entertainment giant MGM. If the UK’s gaming laws are relaxed as expected, then MGM has an option to build a Las Vegas-style casino at Earls Court.