Lovells bags SoftBank for £9bn Vodafone LBO

Lovells’ Tokyo arm has scooped the lead advisory role on Japan’s largest-ever leveraged buyout (LBO).

The firm advised Japanese internet service provider SoftBank on its £9bn purchase of Vodafone’s flagging Japanese mobile telecoms business, as first revealed on www.thelawyer. com (17 March).

The deal is expected to be sealed in the next few weeks, after Vodafone rejected proposals by private equity firms Cerberus and Providence and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, instead deciding to proceed with its advanced negotiations with SoftBank.

Lovells Tokyo office managing partner and banking and finance partner Tim Lester is leading the team, which is advising on corporate and financing aspects of the deal on behalf of SoftBank.

He said the firm has a longstanding relationship with SoftBank and was acting on both the financing and M&A aspects of the deal.

“The deal is structured as an LBO. It’s certainly the biggest LBO in Japan and Bloomberg is saying it’s the biggest in Asia,” he said. “In fact, Japan is an increasingly buoyant market and this deal is a good example of that. There’s a lot going on here right now.”

Japanese firm Mori Hamada & Matsumoto has also been instructed by SoftBank on local aspects of the negotiations.

Linklaters Tokyo-based corporate partners Casper Lawson and Hidehiro Utsumi are advising Vodafone on English and local law issues respectively.