Herbert Smith handles buyout for lastminute

Herbert Smith, with best friends Gleiss Lutz and Stibbe, has further cemented its relationship with lastminute.com, after the company fell out with its previous main corporate adviser Linklaters last year. Last week, Herbert Smith advised on the dotcom’s £40m acquisition of Holidays Autos, the world’s largest leisure car rental broker.

While Holiday Autos’ traditional adviser DLA scored the instruction on this deal, it remains to be seen whether the firm will still win work after the rental broker’s integration into lastminute.com.

Lastminute.com company secretary Simon Watkins said there will not be any immediate integration between the two businesses and that in the meantime, the longstanding advisers will continue to act on behalf of the company, but this will be reviewed further down the track. “We haven’t gone down that road yet though,” he said.

DLA has been advising Holiday Autos since chairman Clive Jacobs bought out his original partners in 1996, but the firm has never worked for lastminute.com.

The deal looks set to send further work in Gleiss Lutz’s direction, as the acquisition will significantly increase lastminute.com’s presence in Germany. Watkins said that as the firm’s main corporate adviser, Herbert Smith helped to pick advisers outside the UK. “We look to them to manage any transactional issues outside the UK,” Watkins added.

Herbert Smith took over as lastminute.com’s main adviser a year ago, and has advised on five acquisitions since its appointment. Herbert Smith won the role in a tender process, after Watkins said the relationship with Linklaters had “come to a natural end”.

Lead corporate partner David Paterson said: “That they [lastminute.com] could raise equity finance in the current turbulent markets is testimony to the success of their business model and their track record of shrewd deal-doing.”

The Gleiss Lutz team was led by Tim Brandi, with Ysabelle Vuillard also advising on the deal for Stibbe. Andrew Sherratt at DLA was the lead partner.