King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) and Ashurst have secured lead roles in GE Capital’s sale of its Australian commercial assets to Sankaty Advisors for A$1.9bn (£888m).

KWM acted for GE Capital, with Melbourne-based relationship partner Peter Stirling leading the firm’s team on the transaction. The team also included Sydney-based banking and finance partner Andrew Maynes, senior associate Marissa Bendyk and tax partner Darren McClafferty.

KWM has been one of GE Capital’s main advisers in Australia. Previously the firm was instructed to advise on GE Capital’s $400m acquisition of Allianz’s Australian commercial lending unit in 2013. 

Sankaty Advisors, a Bain Capital affiliate, sought out Ashurst’s Sydney-based private equity partner David Stammers. Ashurst has done work for Sankaty in Europe in the past. In 2011, the firm advised Sankaty on the acquisition of CapitalSource Finance’s European portfolio.

The deal was funded by Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and National Australia Bank. Herbert Smith Freehills’ Sydney finance partner John Nestel advised Sankaty and Deutsche Bank on the debt financing matters of the deal.

Minter Ellison and Kirkland & Ellis were also involved in the transaction, advising on certain financing aspects of the acquisition, acting for GE Capital and Sankaty respectively.

Minter Ellison’s team was led by Sydney finance partner James Mok, who was previously an in-house counsel for GE Capital Australia and New Zealand. Kirkland’s team was headed by Hong Kong debt finance partners Ashley Young and London private equity partner Daniel Abercromby.

Morgan Stanley provided financial advice to GE Capital for the divestment of its Australian commercial assets.

Background to this deal

These recent deals followed Sankaty’s $1.3bn acquisition of J.P. Morgan’s Global Special Opportunities Group in 2014, and the A$300m purchase in 2013 of a credit portfolio of performing and stressed corporate loans from Lloyds in Australia. Kirkland advised Sankaty in both deals, fielding London partners Stephen Gillespie and Rory Mullarkey. However, Gillespie left for Gibson Dunn at the end of 2014. Davis Polk & Wardwell’s New York corporate partner William Taylor represented JP Morgan on the former deal.