Linklaters and Uría take jobs as bankrupt Schlecker sells Iberian units

Linklaters and Uría Menéndez have landed the lead roles as Spanish discount supermarket Distribuidora Internacional de Alimentación (Dia) acquired bankrupt German pharmacy chain Schlecker’s Spanish and Portuguese arms.

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The deal, currently valued at €70.5m (£56.6m), will see Dia, one of the world’s largest discount supermarket chains, further expand its Iberian footprint by acquiring 1,127 outlets and three distribution centres in Spain and 41 outlets and one distribution centre in Portugal.

Schlecker, which is selling Spain’s Schlecker Unipersonal and Schlecker Portugal Sociedade Uniperssoal, was forced to close around 2,800 stores in Germany earlier this year.

The acquisitions will bring Dia’s number of stores in Spain to over 4,000 and the number of stores in Portugal in excess of 600. Schlecker’s Spanish and Portuguese units generated combined sales of €318m last year.

Uría acted as lead counsel for Dia on the transaction, with a team led by Madrid-based capital markets partners Ramiro Rivera and Javier Tortuero and associates Jorge Martín, Sofía Querejeta and Alicia de Miguel. Barcelona corporate partner Juan Antonio Pérez Rivarés, counsel Noemí Blázquez and senior associates Marta Giménez and Diana Linage also acted on the transaction.

Madrid competition partner Alfonso Gutiérrez is also being retained by Dia as it seeks approval of the deal before the competition authorities.

German firm Hengeler Mueller was retained to advise Dia on the German law aspects of the transaction. Düsseldorf-based corporate partner Gerd Sassenrath, IP counsel Andrea Schlaffge and senior associates Maurice Séché and Astrid Harmsen all worked alongside Uría on the deal.

Linklaters fielded a combined Spanish-German team to act for Schlecker. Capital markets counsel Ramón Ruiz de la Torre led the team from Madrid alongside associates Javier García Cueto y Leticia Alcocer. Frankfurt-based restructuring and insolvency partner Sven Schelo and associate Maximilian Bettermann advised on the German law aspects of the transaction. The firm also provided legal advice to the administrators on the deal.

The transaction is due to be fully paid for in cash for a maximum price of €70.5m free of net debt and is expected to be completed by April 2013 pending approval from Spain’s competition authorities.

Background to this deal:

Uría has previously acted on transactions involving Dia and acted alongside best friend firms Bredin Pat, Bonelli Erede Pappalardo and Slaughter and May as they advised Carrefour, which previously owned Dia, on the multi-billion euro disposal of the French supermarket giant’s property arm. Uría partners Luis de Carlos and Fernando Pérez de la Sota advised on Spanish stock market and real estate law issues.

Clifford Chance was retained separately to advise Dia as Carrefour also decided simultaneously to spin off 100 per cent of its shares in the Spanish business and its market flotation in Spain last year (3 March 2011).

This was the first time that Linklaters’ Spanish office had acted for Schlecker.