Ashurst team in HMSO privatisation

Ashurst Morris Crisp assigned a team of five partners and 11 assistants to advise Rupert Pennant-Rea's National Publishing Group on the purchase of HMSO from the Government for £125m.

Pennant-Rea, ex-deputy governor of the Bank of England, who resigned after details of his affair with a journalist were revealed in the press, is chair of the group, a firm established by fund manager Electra Fleming. It won the HMSO auction in August.

Charlie Geffen, who led the Ashurst team, said the deal was complicated as it was one of the few privatisations in which the Government remained a main customer of the privatised firm.

Not only did the usual issues relating to a buy-in have to be arranged, but more than 12 agreements had to be drawn up between the privatised company and the residual core of HMSO. Among these were contracts with the House of Lords and the House of Commons for printing parliamentary documents, including Hansard.

Tim Davis and David Wilkinson, of Field Fisher Waterhouse, acted for the government and James Baird at Clifford Chance for the National Publishing Group.