Linklaters beats Camerons to National Grid acquisition

Linklaters beats Camerons to National Grid acquisition” />Linklaters has elbowed CMS Cameron McKenna aside to scoop the first major corporate job for National Grid Transco (NGT) since its 2002 merger with energy group Lattice.

The firm is advising the gas and electricity giant on its £2bn acquisition of the UK mobile telecoms and broadcasting infrastructure of US telecoms conglomerate Crown Castle.

The purchase was funded entirely through corporate debt and represents the largest private M&A deal announced in the UK this year and the most significant since the Lattice merger, on which Linklaters advised the target.

Camerons has advised NGT, its largest client by market capitalisation, for the past 15 years, and the firm continues to act for the company.

Corporate partner Roger Barron won the job late last year
from NGT’s new global general counsel Helen Mahy and legal counsel Mark Noble. The firm did not have to pitch for the work.

The deal, which was signed last 28 June, is still subject to approval by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the US Federal Communications Commission, but is expected to close within the next three months.
Crown Castle has retained New York’s Cravath Swaine & Moore, led by partner James Woolery. Norton Rose, led by partner Jill Gauntlett, is advising on aspects of UK law.

Linklaters has long enjoyed a close relationship with Lattice
since advising on the mammoth £14.8bn merger between NGT and Lattice. Camerons acted for NGT, alongside LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & McRae.

Following the merger, it appeared that Camerons had stolen a march on Linklaters when former NGT head of legal Fiona Smith was appointed as global general counsel. After conducting a major panel review, Smith retained Camerons as lead UK adviser to the merged entity, with Linklaters left in a secondary role.

However, in a shock move, Smith resigned as global general counsel of NGT last autumn, and in a boost for Linklaters was replaced by former Lattice company secretary Mahy.

An NGT spokesperson said that the company will continue to use both firms. “It would be totally incorrect to say Linklaters are the leading corporate lawyers now. This just happens to be a job Linklaters are doing for us,” said the spokesperson. “We do tend to see who’s most appropriate.”

Linklaters fielded a team of more than eight partners from its corporate and IT and communications groups, as well as specialists in antitrust, real estate, environment, employment, share schemes and tax.

NGT’s in-house team was led by Mahy and Noble. Eversheds is advising NGT on pensions law.