CMS leads for prolific HK tycoon on €940m Dutch waste purchase

Members of the CMS network and Loyens & Loeff have won roles advising on the first major continental European acquisition by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing’s Cheung Kong Group.

A CMS team comprising partners and lawyers from the UK and Netherlands advised the consortium led by Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI) on its €940m (£800m) acquisition of Dutch energy-from-waste company AVR Afvalalverwerking (AVR).

CMS Cameron McKenna corporate partner Charles Currier, the firm’s key relationship partner with CKI, led the advice to the acquirers out of London with support from eight other partners including energy lawyer Robert Lane and finance specialist Nancy Eller in the City office, as well as CMS Derks Star Busmann corporate partner Cecilia van der Weijden and finance partner Eduard Scheenstra in Amsterdam.

Dutch firm Loyens & Loeff, led by Amsterdam-based partner and corporate chair Bas Vletter, acted for the seller, Van Gansewinkel Groep, a company controlled by private equity groups CVC Capital Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

The transaction is subject to customary approvals and is expected to complete in the third quarter of the year.

Background to this deal:

CMS has a long-standing relationship with Cheung Kong. Prior to the Dutch transaction, CKI’s first major investment in continental Europe, CMS’s Currier and Lane have handled a number of large transactions in the UK for the client.

Most recently, the firm advised CKI on its £645m acquisition of UK gas company Wales & West Utilities (26 July 2012). In that deal, Linklaters took the role acting for the consortium of sellers, fielding London corporate partner Jessamy Gallagher.

Prior to that, the City firm advised CKI on a failed bid for E.ON’s UK electricity distribution arm Central Networks in 2011 (3 March 2011).

Li Ka-Shing’s Cheung Kong Group has also used a broad range of firms on previous deals. It hired a Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer team led by London corporate partners Piers Prichard Jones and Edward Braham for the Northumbrian Water deal (2 August 2011) and has previously used Norton Rose, which advised CKI and United Utilities on their joint £1.4bn purchase of the North of England gas distribution business from National Grid in 2004, fielding London corporate partner Alan Crookes and then-Abu Dhabi corporate partner Alan Bainbridge.

DLA Piper advised CKI as part of the consortium buying EDF’s power grids in 2010, with City corporate partners Kiran Sharma and Jon Hayes leading. Sharma joined Ropes & Gray’s London office last year (28 February 2011).