Lovells cements Nomura relationship with S&N, Center Parcs instructions

Lovells has made major headway with Japanese investment bank Nomura. Last week Lovells took Nomura into the final stages of a highly competitive auction for Scottish & Newcastle’s (S&N) pubs and hotels and sealed the Center Parcs Europe buyout, which the investment bank arranged.

The timing of the deals is particularly helpful to Lovells because Nomura, under its new transactional head of legal Tom O’Riordan, is currently reviewing its legal advisers.

The S&N auction gave Lovells’ corporate team its first role for Nomura on a public bid. However, the firm also advised Nomura on S&N’s aborted pub sale and management deal, which was announced last year.

The same deal gave Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer its S&N look-in, which until then was a rock-solid Linklaters client. Sundeep Kapilla, a corporate lawyer at the magic circle firm, is running S&N’s pub auction.

Lovells’ first completed job for Nomura was the sale and leaseback of 280 of Laurel’s pubs at the beginning of the year. At that stage the firm’s contacts were limited to Nomura’s real estate finance practice.

However, Lovells’ joint relationship partner for Nomura Andrew Carey said he now hopes to get corporate and finance work from other areas of the bank.

Nomura lawyer O’Riordan, who returned from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft in January, is looking at the bank’s external legal function. Traditionally, Nomura has used Allen & Overy, CMS Cameron McKenna, Clifford Chance, Freshfields and Linklaters as well as Lovells.

Nomura and its joint venture partner Laurel have now gone through to the final round of the S&N auction. Carey, who advised Nomura on Pierre & Vacances’ acquisition of a Center Parcs Europe stake from private equity house MidOcean, is also understood to be leading on S&N. Carey, who declined to comment on the S&N auction, is handling the finance side, with partner Nick Parden advising on corporate aspects.

Laurel is represented separately by SJ Berwin because Freshfields, its usual adviser, is conflicted. The SJ Berwin legal team is led by Steve Davis, who has previously worked with Laurel’s majority shareholder Morgan Grenfell Private Equity.

Nomura faces competition from two other bidders: managed pub company Spirit Group and a private equity consortium comprising CVC Capital Partners and Cinven. It is believed that Spirit is represented by Slaughter and May and the CVC-Cinven consortium by Ashurst Morris Crisp.