Macfarlanes, Lovells lead on £40m unitranche

Lovells and Macfarlanes have won places advising on the £40m debt refinancing of nursery operator Just Learning Group in one of the first examples of the unitranche debt facility seen in Europe.

Investment group Ares Capital Europe, represented by Lovells, provided a refinancing package that combines junior and senior debt in a single-term loan agreement. It can now sell on the debt on a tranched basis.

Macfarlanes was instructed by the Just Learning Group, which also turned to Dickson Minto for advice on its nurseries in Scotland.

A newly established affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Ares Management investment group, Ares Capital Europe called on Lovells acquisition finance partner Mark Donald as well as Scottish firm Tods Murray.

Donald ;said: ;”This transaction is particularly interesting in that it uses the unitranche structure, which to our knowledge has never been used before in a European leverage buyout.”

Just Learning is majority owned by the Alchemy Partners buyout group. Barclays Bank, which provided the original loan, was also advised by Lovells with a Chinese Wall in place. Banking partner Paul Mullen acted for Barclays.

Lovells looks to have secured its place as Ares Capital Europe’s main legal adviser after acting on its first two transactions. The firm also won the mandate for the financing of last month’s e75m (£59.21m) purchase of sportswear company Fila.