Simmons works with Shearmans on £350m Euro debt restructuring

Simmons & Simmons has advised telecoms giant Global TeleSystems (GTS) on the restructuring of debt worth $500m (£350.6m) in subsidiary Global TeleSystems Europe.

Simmons has acted for GTS since the company acquired its subsidiary, formerly Esprit Telecom, in 1999. The firm won the latest deal on the back of GTS’s existing relationship with the corporate department.

The Simmons team, which was led by financial markets partner Peter Manning, worked closely with US firm Shearman & Sterling, which led the US side. Simmons led in all non-US jurisdictions, including France and Germany, where Shearmans is normally GTS’s preferred legal adviser.

The deal ran across 14 European countries and, according to Manning, coordination was the biggest obstacle. “We needed to instruct local lawyers in all jurisdictions,” he says. “At certain points, we had 25 Simmons lawyers working on the deal.

“We had to review the company’s position in full; we needed corporate and tax lawyers to work out the best way of restructuring; we needed property and telecoms people to review the company’s existing contractual relationships; and we needed employment advice to review employees’ contracts.”

The deal involves debt, which comes from bonds issued by the subsidiary before it was acquired by GTS, being swapped for equity.

The restructuring will give the bondholders a 90 per cent stake in a new company that will own Global TeleSystems Europe.

Despite Global TeleSystems Europe having revenue of nearly euro560m (£352.5m), GTS found it impossible to fund the subsidiary into profitability and pay the subsidiary’s bondholders. The bondholders, advised by Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, had the choice of liquidating the company or swapping debt for equity. Milbank Tweed advised them to do the latter.

The GTS in-house team was led by general counsel Grier Raclin and European legal director Ernst Wessel. Partners Doug Bartner, Chris Puci and Andrew Tenzer led the Shearmans team.