Montagu revisits Links with £276m sell-off role

Linklaters has retained private equity client Montagu for a £276m deal that sees insurance intermediary Towergate acquire software broker Open International despite the departures of the firm’s key contact partners.

Montagu has been a client of the magic circle firm since Linklaters advised HSBC on the sale of its 80 per cent interest in Montagu to its executives in March 2003.

The relationship was previously managed by corporate partner Raymond McKeeve until he and Linklaters’ global head of private equity Graham White left for Kirkland & Ellis in March 2006. Linklaters’ corporate partner Richard Youle has defended the firm’s relationship with Montagu since then. He led on this deal.

For DLA Piper‘s longstanding client Towergate it was the largest transaction in its 10-year history. Corporate partner Mel Sims led the team.

In May, Open International reported annual sales of £35m and an operating profit of £18.8m: it has about 40 per cent of the UK’s broker market.

Bank of Scotland provided the debt for Towergate’s acquisition with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advising. Finance partner Chris Howard led the team. “It was a pretty aggressive financing,” he said. “We managed to get a full underwrite at a time when the markets are apparently closed.”