Raft of firms advise on Terra Firma’s acquisition of Garden Centre Group

Ashurst, Dundas & Wilson, Macfarlanes, McGrigors, Memery Crystal and SJ Berwin all won roles advising on the acquisition of the Garden Centre Group from Lloyds Banking Group by Guy Hands’ private equity house Terra Firma Capital Partners.

SJ Berwin corporate finance partner Ed Harris led for Terra Firma on the £276m deal alongside finance partner Ian Borman, real estate partner William Boss and corporate associate Leanne Moezi.

Glasgow-based McGrigors corporate partner Barry McCaig advised sellers Bank of Scotland and West Coast Capital on the corporate transaction and debt restructuring.

Scottish-headquartered rival Dundas & Wilson advised the sellers in their capacity as mortgage lenders, fielding a team understood to have included debt, restructuring and recovery partner Caryn Penley and senior associate Dawn Reoch.

Real estate partner Eugene O’Keeffe at Memery Crystal advised the Garden Centre on property matters, with the company selecting 33 of its 133 properties for Memery Crystal to submit certificates of title to SJ Berwin.

Memery Crystal has a longstanding relationship with the Garden Centre and handles its real estate portfolio, with O’Keeffe advising it on the acquisition of 12 new stores from Country Homes and Gardens last year.

The Garden Centre’s law firm instructions are generally made by CEO Nicholas Marshall, who was put in the role by the Bank of Scotland and has been in the position since 2008.

Firms the company has instructed in the past include McGrigors, Memery Crystal, Addleshaw Goddard, Cheltenham firm BPE Solicitors and a number of small local firms.

Macfarlanes corporate partner Ian Martin acted for the management of the Garden Centre following an introduction last July.

Ashurst finance partners Helen Burton and Mark Vickers acted for the Terra Firma’s lenders, which consisted of a banking consortium of Lloyds, Barclays Bank and the Co-operative Bank. Associate Ross Ollerhead was closely involved advising on the deal.

Ashurst has developed strong ties to Lloyds, with the firm seconding a three-lawyer team led by finance partner and ex-RBS restructuring head Lee Doyle to the bank for four months last year (16 May 2011).

Terra Firma was a latecomer in the bidding for the Garden Centre, with CCMP Capital Advisors, the other bidder, understood to not have instructed outside lawyers.