SJ Berwin handles MEP’s purchase of MFI for &163;1

SJ Berwin has scooped a role to advise new client Merchant Equity Partners (MEP) on the purchase of MFI’s loss-making retail arm.

Mayflower, which is controlled by MEP, paid just £1 for the business. The acquisition is the first successful deal for MEP since the fund’s launch.

It is understood that MEP competed against at least two rival bidders for the business.

SJ Berwin was invited by MEP to pitch for the MFI deal thanks to funds partner Mark Mifsud, who advised on the launch of the fund and subsequently introduced the client to his colleagues in the corporate finance team.

Under the agreement MFI will pay MEP up to £73.8m, payable in three instalments. Meanwhile, MEP will invest up to £68m in the chain.

MFI will continue to focus on its kitchen and joinery business. The disposal is subject to the approval of MFI’s shareholders at a meeting scheduled for later this month.

SJ Berwin head of corporate finance Steven Davis led the team advising MEP alongside real estate partner Nick Minkoff and commercial partner Andrew Schindler.

Davis said the deal was particularly complicated as the two businesses were so intertwined.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, led by corporate partners Mark Rawlinson and Claire Wills, advised MFI.