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A flying start – Eversheds Sutherland nears first anniversary with trio of corporate deals

As the transatlantic Eversheds Sutherland tie-up approaches a year since going live, the firm has enjoyed a robust start to 2018 with some meaty corporate instructions and has incorporated its Dutch arm into its international LLP.

Leading off the end-of-year deal book was Shell’s December move into the UK residential energy market with its agreement to buy energy and broadband provider First Utility, which serves about 800,000 homes in the UK.

Eversheds Sutherland advised Shell on the deal, which has an undisclosed value and was subject to regulatory and other approvals. The team was led by corporate partner Iwan Walters, and included other partners Simon Crossley, Ros Kellaway, and Danny Blum. Slaughter and May acted for First Utility.

Walters said it was an interesting time for Shell to be entering what was a competitive UK domestic gas and electricity market, adding: ‘We look forward to building on our close working relationship with Shell in the UK and internationally.’

On the same day, the firm announced it was advising US data centre real estate investment trust (REIT) CyrusOne on the European aspects of its agreement with Quantum Strategic Partners, an investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management, to acquire European data centre provider Zenium for $442m.

Zenium has four properties in London and Frankfurt, with the deal expected to close early this year, subject to regulatory approval.

The Eversheds team was led by partner Simon Gamlin, and included partners Mark Chester and Christof Lamberts. Sullivan & Cromwell advised on the US aspects of the deal.

Then today (4 January), Eversheds advised as British retailer Poundland secured a £180m loan to reduce its reliance on its South African owner Steinhoff, a homeware and clothing conglomerate under investigation following accounting irregularities estimated at £7bn.

The two-year loan was arranged by Steinhoff-owned Pepkor Europe, the European owner of Poundland, from US investment firm Davidson Kempner.

Eversheds acted for the Steinhoff UK group, which also owned UK furniture brands Harveys and Bensons for Beds, in a team led by partner Carl Allen.

DWF and Simmons & Simmons acted for Pepkor Europe (the Pepkor and Poundland brands), while Linklaters acted for the international level Steinhoff companies.

The deals come as Eversheds Sutherland this week acquired the Dutch firm which had been part of its European network for ten years, formally adding Eversheds Sutherland Netherlands to its international LLP.

The Dutch firm has offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam with eight partners and 32 lawyers, while the merger follows another with Harry Elias Partners in Singapore in June 2017 and the opening of offices in Düsseldorf, Luxembourg, Moscow and St Petersburg.

Eversheds Sutherland chief executive Lee Ranson said: ‘Developing in key jurisdictions is a core part of our global strategy and this move allows us to prioritise investment in a market which is of increasing importance for both our international and US clients.’