Peacock buyout sees Sullivan, Freshfields land advisory roles

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

and Sullivan & Cromwell have scooped advisory roles on the take-private of discount clothing retailer Peacock in what is the first UK leveraged buyout by hedge funds.

Freshfields, which was instructed by Goldman Sachs, and Sullivan were brought in by Peacock’s management and the US investment bank to structure the £410m deal.

Meanwhile, as first reported on www.thelawyer. com (31 October), Allen & Overy (A&O) has leveraged off its role on Malcolm Glazer’s controversial takeover of Manchester United by landing the mandate to advise Och-Ziff and Perry Capital.

The US hedge funds that helped finance Glazer’s ultimately successful takeover of Man Utd earlier this year have taken a 44 per cent equity stake in Henson, the bid vehicle incorporated for the purposes of the Peacock takeover.

Another 44 per cent of the equity will be held by Peacock’s chief executive Richard Kirk, the chief financial officer Keith Bryant, and Neil Burns, an executive director.

A&O won the role because corporate partner Andrew Ballheimer, who is leading the team advising the hedge funds on the Peacock transaction, advised Glazer on the Man Utd takeover. Ballheimer is also believed to have a personal contact at Och-Ziff.

A source close to the deal denied that the move was a major threat to the private equity market. He argued that the hedge funds lacked the deal origination and deal execution expertise at which private equity houses excel.

Ashurst and Macfarlanes acted for Peacock and the management buyout team respectively. Meanwhile, Clifford Chance is understood to have advised Goldman Sachs on the debt financing aspects of the deal.

The Freshfields team was led by corporate partner Farah Ispahani.