Freshfields builds on Dutch CVC affiliation

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is developing its relationship with CVC Capital Partners by exploiting its local contacts with the Dutch arm of the private equity house.

The deal coincides with Freshfields’ renewed push to recover lost ground in private equity.

Amsterdam-based Jan Willem van der Staay advised CVC on its exit from its 2001 investment in Dutch building materials business Cementbouw Handel & Industrie. CVC sold the distribution and building products operations of Cementbouw to Simmons & Simmons client CRH for e646m (£445.3m) and refinanced the rest through a joint venture with CRH. CVC reinvested e47m (£32.4m) for a 45 per cent stake in the joint venture, CRH took a similar stake and the management will hold the remaining 10 per cent.

The deal was Simmons’ largest transaction for CRH to date. The team was led by Jean-Pierre van Leeuwe, who has been CRH’s main Dutch corporate adviser since the mid-1980s and who last year successfully introduced the client to Paris partner Stephen Walters.

Freshfields was awarded the CVC mandate partly because of its role advising it on its original acquisition of Cementbouw two years ago for e908m (£625.9m). However, Clifford Chance, which is still CVC’s main London adviser, also has a historic relationship with CVC in the Netherlands. Clifford Chance did muscle in on one aspect of the CRH deal, taking its usual role advising on the competition notification, with Brussels-based Dutch partner Charles van Sasse van Ysselt advising.

Van der Staay said: “In the old days, CVC worked more or less exclusively with Clifford Chance on the Continent and in London, but the Dutch branch of CVC is especially keen on having more than one adviser in place. We’re definitely on the preferred list.”

Van der Staay, who joined Freshfields at the launch of its greenfield Dutch operation four years ago, worked with CVC at his former firm Loeff Claeys Verbeke.

“CVC in the Netherlands has been a very active part of CVC. This, combined with my existing relationship with them, contributed to getting the work,” he said.

Freshfields is also developing the CVC relationship in Madrid and Frankfurt, but has made no progress in London. Clifford Chance retains the lion’s share of the work in the UK, although Linklaters has made significant inroads since winning the work for CVC in relation to the acquisition of Kwik-Fit from Ford last year.