White & Case and Speechly advise on Handelsbanken-Heartwood deal

White & Case and Speechly Bircham have landed roles as Swedish bank Handelsbanken acquires wealth and investment manager Heartwood Wealth Group, marking the bank’s first acquisition in the UK market.

White & Case is acting for Handelsbanken. London M&A partner Gavin Weir led the corporate side of the team and was supported by associates Kim Alcantara and associate Henrik Wireklint from London and Stockholm, respectively. London regulatory head Stuart Willey also provided additional advice on the regulatory aspects of the deal.

Speechly is advising Heartwood and its shareholders, with a team led by corporate partner Nick Janmohamed and corporate tax partner James Carter, alongside senior assistant David Hicks, corporate solicitor Richard Coleman, regulatory solicitor Tom Dupernex and corporate tax solicitor Robert Birchall.

Heartwood was originally set up in 1998 as the investment and wealth management arm of Tunbridge Wells-based law firm Crippes Harries Hall. In 2001 the wealth manager was demerged from the firm and became known as Cripps Portfolio.

In December 2005, when some partners at Cripps still owned minority stakes in the business, Cripps Portfolio carried out a management buyout and the firm was subsequently rebranded Heartwood Wealth Management (23 January 2006).

The deal will see Heartwood become a wholly owned subsidiary of Handelsbanken. While the Swedish bank has operated in the UK for over 20 years and today has 133 branches across the country, this is the first time it has acquired a UK entity. This deal also marks the bank’s first acquisition since it bought a stake in Danish bank Lokalbanken in September 2008.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed and the acquisition is subject to both regulatory approval and approval from Heartwood’s shareholders.

Background to this deal:

White & Case has some history of acting on deals involving the bank, having advised Swedish mortgage institution Stadshypotek, which is owned by Handelsbanken, on a $15bn medium term covered bond programme in 2010, which was the first ever issuance in the United States of Nordic-covered bonds. The deal also involved a follow-on issuance valued at $1bn of 1.45% Covered Bonds due 2013 and $600m of floating rate covered bonds due 2013.

Speechly has acted for Heartwood for just over seven years, having first acted for the firm on the 2005 MBO.

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