Lawrence Graham steps in on Londis as Baker Tilly sidelined

Lawrence Graham steps in on Londis as Baker Tilly sidelined” />Lawrence Graham has scooped instructions from new client Londis Holdings Limited on the sale of the mutually-owned convenience store chain.

The controversial deal has also seen Londis replace its financial adviser Baker Tilly with KPMG.

The top 50 City firm won the mandate following a recommendation from Londis’s usual corporate law firm Dickson Minto, which could not act for it because senior partner Alistair Dickson was already advising its management.

Londis’s board put the chain up for auction earlier this month after KPMG Corporate Finance recommended an outright sale of the company. Originally, the board had sealed a deal with Budgen’s owner Musgrave Investments.

The Lawyer understands that KPMG replaced Baker Tilly as Londis’s financial adviser earlier this year following the collapse of Musgrave’s bid. Commenting on KPMG’s appointment, a source close to the deal said: “The board felt that KPMG was better equipped than Baker Tilly for a deal like this.”

However, the board withdrew its recommendation of Musgrave’s £40m offer last December after it was revealed that it would have resulted in Londis’s four directors receiving a total windfall payment of £20.4m, leaving the 1,956 shareholders to collect £10,000 each.

On 19 March the four, chief executive Graham White, finance director Andrew Wallace, sales director Terry Bedford and commercial director Denise Buller, agreed to relinquish their rights to the £20.4m in return for a total of £2m in cash. White and Wallace also decided to retire from the board.

It is understood that Linklaters client Big Food Group, the owner of the Iceland chain, is now participating in the auction process.
Meanwhile, the Co-operative Group, Cost Cutter, Somerfield and Nisa-Today are also reported to be interested in buying Londis.

Musgrave, which was advised by SJ Berwin corporate partner David Parkes on its original bid, is also understood to be still interested in Londis. Parkes is well known to Musgrave as he advised it on the takeover of Budgen in 2002.

Lawrence Graham corporate partner Jeff Elway, who is leading the team advising Londis, said: “The ongoing sale process has involved, and no doubt will continue to involve, a full range of advice from us across our corporate, corporate governance, employment and litigation groups.”

Baker Tilly declined to comment.