Ashurst Morris Crisp has won out against two City rivals to pick up work for the first time from Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank's acquisition finance unit.
The firm acted for the German bank's London office on refinancing the debt within Merlin Entertainments Group.
While Ashursts has worked with Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank before, both in its domestic and international markets, Holger Janssen, head of acquisition finance in London, says it is the first time that the firm has been directly appointed by the unit.
Ashursts was up against two other firms for this piece of work, although Janssen declines to name which firms they were. However, commenting on the reasons why the ban
k chose Ashursts, he says: “We needed a firm with local expertise, basically across Continental Europe.”
Mark Vickers, banking partner at Ashursts, who led the deal with partner Thomas Wexler, says: “We've acted on other aspects for the lender – we've been working with them on the project side.”
The bank recently had contact with the firm when it was part of a consortium led by the Royal Bank of Scotland, and which included Scotia Capital Europe, which invested £80m into Beltpacker, a newco set up by the former management of Peter Black Holdings for the purposes of a £223m management buyout (The Lawyer, 27 November).
DLA acted for the consortium while Ashursts advised Peter Black Holdings.
According to Janssen, the bank uses a mixture of firms, including the usual suspects from the magic circle, as well as a selection of mid-tier firms.
He says that the bank has a preferred list of legal advisers, adding: “They're for the whole bank and they're appointed on an informal basis.” Suggestions are made from the shop floor on law firms, then a list is drawn up and presided over by the bank's head of legal.
On this latest deal, leisure company Vardon, advised by Herbert Smith, provided mezzanine debt while Apax Funds, represented by SJ Berwin, provided a second tranche of mezzanine as well as taking a slice of equity. Merlin was advised by Taylor Joynson Garrett.