Thames Water takes on Debevoise for US drive

Debevoise & Plimpton is riding on the wave of UK utility companies investing in the US by advising Thames Water on its acquisition of New Jersey-based E'town.

The UK's largest water company has agreed to purchase US utility company E'town for £367.9m and will take on £206.7m of debt.

It is the first deal that Debevoise has completed for Thames Water.

The UK company usually uses Slaughter and May in the UK. However Michael Blair, a corporate partner at Debevoise who headed a six- strong team on the deal, says there were no UK issues to contend with since Thames Water paid cash for the company.

He says: “There were some potential UK law issues. But the way the deal was structured meant that we didn't end up grappling with those things.”

Other lawyers on the Debevoise team include US-based tax partner Hugh Rowland and senior corporate associate Lech Choroszucha.

Blair says the acquisition is still subject to US regulatory procedures, which will take about six to eight months to complete.

E'town, which is made up of two regulated water utilities, Elizabethtown Water Company and The Mount Holly Water Company, was represented by US firm Winthrop Stimson Putman & Roberts.

Over the last two years a number of UK utility companies have invested in the US, including Powergen, which has an alliance with US companies NRG Energy and Morrison Kundson. Powergen hopes to acquire a US company and has stated it has £3.1bn to do so.