Coller picks SJ Berwin

SJ Berwin has completed its first major UK deal for key private equity client Coller International in a deal led by funds partner John Daghlian, who is leaving the firm for O’Melveny & Myers.

SJ Berwin advised Coller on its bargain acquisition of what is believed to be the bulk of recently rebranded Abbey’s private equity portfolio for a reported £300m.

Jeremy Coller’s US secondary buyout fund Coller International has been a client of SJ Berwin for some time, but SJ Berwin has so far missed out on his really big European deals.

Last year, SJ Berwin advised Coller on the purchase of a part of BT’s small Brightstar portfolio, but had to turn down a role when the fund bought out NatWest Equity Partners’ portfolio for more than £670m three years ago in what was then Europe’s biggest secondary buyout. Daghlian advised NatWest (now Bridgepoint) on that deal.

Abbey instructed Hammonds on the deal and although Slaughter and May remains firmly ensconced as primary PLC-level corporate counsel, Hammonds is gaining increasing ground with the bank.

The Coller deal was high value but relatively straightforward in that it involved the sale of stakeholdings in various companies rather than whole business disposals.

It was led by Hammonds partner Simon Sale, who has handled numerous private equity acquisitions and disposals for Abbey’s private equity arm during the past three years.