Shearman & Sterling and Slaughter and May have bagged the top M&A roles on the £3.5bn acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) by cable company Liberty Global.

Slaughter and May corporate and commercial partner Andrew Jolly is acting for longstanding client CWC in London. The team also includes financing partner Ed Fife, competition partner Jordan Ellison, pensions & employment partner Roland Doughty and tax partner Sara Luder. 

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison is supporting Slaughters in relation to the financing aspects of the transaction. 

Meanwhile the purchaser, Liberty Global, turned to Shearman & Sterling for M&A advice in London, New York and Washington. 

Partners George Casey and Robert Katz worked in New York, while Jeremy Kutner and Laurence Levy handled corporate matters in London alongside counsel Simon Little and Matthew Powell. An all US tax team was led by partners Laurence Bambino and Ethan Harris, with assistance from counsel Simon Letherman in London. Compensation partner Doreen Lilienfeld and litigation partner Alan Goudiss both advised from New York. 

Capital markets counsel Harald Halbhuber and IP counsel Jordan Altman also worked in New York, as well as real estate counsel Robert Fagiola. 

Ropes & Gray is assisting Liberty Global on the financing arrangements of the deal, with London partners Robert Haak and Jane Rogers co-leading. 

Meanwhile Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co partners Jason Coates and Paul Feathers won the mandate acting on the UK pensions aspects of the transaction.

Goldman Sachs International, Liberty Global’s financial adviser, also turned to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom London M&A partners Michal Berkner and Michael Hatchard, as well as corporate partner Scott Hopkins. Partner Paul Schnell was based in New York.

Herbert Smith Freehills further acted for Goldman Sachs International, by way of a scheme, with partners Mark Bardell and Kristen Roberts leading the team. Additional financial matters were handled by Allen & Overy partner Philip Bowden, who acted for the banks in the deal.

Liberty Global’s acquisition of CWC is expected to expand the former’s offering in Latin America and the Caribbean that can serve 10 million video, data, voice and mobile subscribers. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016. 

Background to the deal 

CWC general counsel Belinda Bradberry recently announced she would install the company’s first-ever legal panel, with Slaughters expected to win a place on the roster. 

Over the summer, Bradberry said the decision had been influenced by the listed company’s $1.85bn acquisition of Columbus International, and hinted that an upcoming merger would also lead to a “reshaping” of the company.  The merger with Liberty Global could lead CWC to act more in the US market, with Bradberry suggesting the company could also “become more closely associated with American firms.” 

Liberty Global meanwhile has turned to a variety of magic circle firms in recent acquisitions, switching between Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, A&O and Shearman. 

Shearman won a first-time role for new client Liberty in 2013 when the company bought Virgin Media for $23.3bn (£14.9bn).   

On this deal, A&O and Latham both worked for the banks, while Ropes also assisted on financing matters. 

A year later, it was A&O that scooped the key role for Liberty Global in its €6.9bn (£5.7bn) purchase of Dutch cable operator Ziggo, with Freshfields meanwhile winning the mandate on the company’s £481m stake in ITV and £550m acquisition of production company All3Media. 

Liberty Global, which has headquarters in Colorado, London and the Netherlands, owns multiple brands including Virgin Media, Unitymedia, Telenet, UPC, VTR and Liberty.