Ashurst, Slaughters join US duo on Songbird refinancing

Two UK and two US firms have been drafted in to advise on the £836m ­recapitalisation of Canary Wharf Group owner ­Songbird Estates.

Songbird’s longstanding adviser Slaughter and May was instructed by the ­property group, with ­partner Roland Turnhill leading a team that also included partners Rebecca Cousin and Philip Snell.

Slaughters advised Songbird on its successful bid for Canary Wharf in 2004. The company now owns a 60 per cent stake in the group.

Weil Gotshal & Manges partner Peter King and ­Sullivan & Cromwell ­London co-head Robert Schlein acted as co-counsel advising Songbird.

Ashurst is advising banks JPMorgan Cazenove, Morgan Stanley and Rothschild on the deal, led by corporate partner Nicholas Holmes.

Songbird’s equity raising has been backed by Middle East sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). QIA has instructed Shearman & Sterling, led by partner Laurence Levy.

QIA is leading a group of investors that will underwrite the equity ­raising to pay back a ­Citigroup loan. Other investors include sovereign wealth fund China ­Investment Corporation.

A source close to the deal said: “There have been a number of deals with ­property companies of this nature. They’ve breached their covenants for their financing, so recapitalisation in the property market has been quite common. We do expect to see more in the coming months.”

Other deals of this kind include Max Property’s £150m IPO issued in May this year. Ashurst’s Holmes was again involved for ­Morgan Stanley on the deal, while Clifford Chance ­partner Adrian Levy advised Max Property.

Another deal went to Ashurst and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which advised on Capital & Regional’s £69.2m capital raising this summer. Ashurst advised the banks, hile Freshfields was instructed by the property investment company.