Hogan Lovells and Addleshaws advise on £620m sale of Co-op Pharmacy

Hogan Lovells and Addleshaw Goddard are among the firms to win key roles on Bestway’s acquisition of The Co-operative Group’s 774-branch pharmacy chain.

The Co-op plans to use the £620m in proceeds from the deal to reduce its stockpile of debts, and invest in other parts of the business. 

Hogan Lovells advised longstanding client Bestway on the deal, led by corporate partner Tom Brassington with support from banking partner Jo Robinson and of counsel Philip Corser. 

Meanwhile, Addleshaw Goddard won the key corporate role for the Co-op Group led by Manchester-based commercial partner Richard Thomas. He was supported by partner Richard Fleetwood, legal director Geoff Yates, and associates Andy Green, Ryan Barber and Dean Cox. 

Allen & Overy was instructed by the group on banking and pensions issues, fielding a team including pensions partner Dana Bustow and associate Francesca Parnell. Partner David Lines and counsel Kathleen Wong advised on banking aspects.

The deal was pushed through in a compressed time frame, between Bestway making a formal bid for the business in late June and its close three weeks later.

Background to this deal 

The Co-op’s sale of its pharmacies follows the discovery of a £1.5bn capital hole in the business in 2013. 

As part of its recovery, the Group spun off its banking arm last year with longstanding legal adviser Allen & Overy initially leading for both the Group on the transaction. 

Allen & Overy subsequently found itself conflicted out of advising the Co-op bank on a significant chunk of the restructuring, with the banking arm turning instead to Clifford Chance on aspects of the deal (4 November 2013). 

The Co-op also hired go-to adviser in Manchester, Addleshaw Goddard, to provide data room and infra group documentation between both the Group and the bank. 

Both firms have since retained their spots at the Group’s key legal advisers.

Meanwhile, Hogan Lovells has a longstanding relationship with Bestway, led by corporate partner Nicola Evans.