Clyde & Co’s professional financial disputes team led by rated team head Sarah Clover is advising Olswang on a multi-million pound claim stemming from the £460m acquisition by a Halabi family trust of fitness club chain Esporta from private equity firm Duke Street Capital.
Olswang in 2006 fielded a cross-disciplinary team to advise the Ironzar III trust on the high-profile acquisition, led by corporate partners Graham Barber and David Roberts.
The fitness group fell into financial difficulty and was placed into financial administration in 2007, taken over by its lender Societe Generale in a debt-for-equity-swap in 2009 and in 2011 Virgin Active acquired its 55 sites for £77.6m.
The trust has issued a claim for damages in the Queen’s Bench division of the Commercial Court, alleging failures during the due diligence process. In a statement Olswang said: ‘We can confirm that the claim relates to the acquisition of Esporta from Duke Street Capital (a deal that occurred in 2007). Ironzar III Trust are the claimants.
‘Proceedings were issued just before the expiry of the limitation period without any prior notification or complaint to Olswang.
‘The main focus of the claimants’ allegations about the failed transaction is advice relating to the Esporta acquisition given by another professional.
‘The complaints against Olswang are peripheral to the main allegations and are highly speculative. We have reviewed the complaints made and are satisfied that we acted appropriately. The proceedings are on-going.’
Clover is a leading name in professional disputes and she has acted for many of the top 50 law firms. In December 2012 she helped Eversheds successfully defend itself against a High Court negligence claim from Newcastle International Airport.
Roger Stewart QC and Richard O’Brien at 4 New Square are acting for the trust.