A&O triumphant on Liverpool FC bid

Allen & Overy (A&O) has scored a high-profile victory, advising a US-based consortium on its £470m acquisition of Liverpool Football Club.

A&O corporate partner Andrew Ballheimer led the advice to Kop Football, the English private limited company vehicle of US sports tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

Liverpool FC’s substitution of Gillett and Hicks over rival bidders Dubai International Capital (DIC) resulted in Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer being sidelined in the takeover.

Freshfields private equity global co-head Chris Bown and Dubai-based corporate partner Bruce Embley had been advising DIC on their proposed takeover that was gazumped by the US tycoons.

DLA Piper’s Liverpool office had a starting role in the transaction, reinforcing its status as Liverpool FC’s external advisers of choice, led by North West corporate group chair Michael Prince.

Prince had been an adviser to the club since David Moore’s takeover, and worked closely with club chief executive Rick Parry on negotiations.

A shoot-out between DLA and A&O will determine which firm continues to advise the club, with the takeover including plans for the construction of a new £215m, 60,000 seat stadium.

Ballheimer was assisted by projects partner Gareth Price and leveraged finance partner Jacqui Evans.

Weil Gotshal & Manges fielded a partner-heavy multi-jurisdictional team to advise investor Tom Hicks on his role in the joint venture.

London-based partners Mike Francies, Richard Ginsburg and Ian Hamilton working with Dallas-based partners Glenn West and Scott Cowan. The Weil team put in overtime, with the instruction to represent Hicks’ personal interests only coming on last Wednesday [31 January].

The structure of the deal sees Kop Football pay £5,000 per share, valuing Liverpool FC at some £174m. Kop Football also assumed £44.8m in debt.

Liverpool FC becomes the seventh Premiership football club to come under foreign ownership, and the third to fall into the hands of US sports tycoons.

Aston Villa was bought by NFL’s Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner. Manchester United was bought by Malcolm Glazer, owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers – advised by an A&O team led by Ballheimer.