Irwin Mitchell wins first Wells Fargo instruction as quartet of firms advise on Commerzbank deal

Irwin Mitchell has picked up a new client with a role alongside Allen & Overy (A&O), Ashurst and Dechert on Wells Fargo’s acquisition of part of the £4bn Hypothekenbank Frankfurt (formerly Eurohypo) real estate loan book from Commerzbank.

Wells Fargo purchased the performing two thirds of the portfolio, worth £2.7bn, and private equity firm Lone Star Funds acquired £1.3bn of nonperforming assets. Lone Star’s acquisition was financed with a loan from Wells Fargo.

Irwin Mitchell acted for Wells Fargo on the real estate due diligence aspects of the deal and was led by real estate partner Rob Thompson.

Thompson said the Wells Fargo instruction was the result of a recommendation from another client who came on board following lateral hires from SJ Berwin in 2010 (27 September 2010).

A&O coordinated the joint bid for Wells Fargo and Lone Star Funds. The magic circle team was led by banking partner Arthur Dyson and corporate partner George Knighton, alongside employment partner Mark Mansell, banking partner Simon Roberts and real estate partner Imogen Moss. Tax advice was provided by Chris Harrison.

Dechert advised Wells Fargo on both the acquisition and the loan to Lone Star. Philadelphia-based relationship partner Richard Jones and London finance partner Jeremy Trinder led the team. London partner Mark Stapleton provided tax advice, and London partner Charles Wynn-Evans advised on employment law matters. 

The Ashurst team acted for Commerzbank and was led by corporate partners Nick Cheshire and Rob Aird with banking senior associate Mark Edwards providing dedicated loan transfer expertise. Banking partners Martyn Rogers and Lee Doyle and capital markets partner Derwin Jenkinson were also involved, and Frankfurt-based Stephan Kock advised on German law matters.

Background to the deal:

The acquisition follows San Francisco-based Wells Fargo’s announcement in January 2013 that it was to expand its UK commercial real estate business.

Ashurst has a longstanding relationship with Commerzbank, principally in Frankfurt, Munich and London, and the firm has significant history of dealing with loan portfolio disposals.

Irwin Mitchell’s real estate and finance teams have been building up experience in loan book work since SJ Berwin real estate head Jon Vivian joined the firm with three other partners in late 2010.