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Deal Watch: Freshfields and HSF lead on Liberty Global’s £481m acquisition of stake in ITV

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s London managing partner Julian Long has advised Liberty Global on the US media group’s £481m purchase of BSkyB’s 6.4% stake in UK broadcaster ITV, with Herbert Smith Freehills acting for BSkyB.

Freshfields lifer Long, who was elected as London managing partner in March after a three-year stint as the office’s head of corporate, worked alongside corporate partner David Sonter. Sonter was also instructed in May by Liberty Global on its £550m joint-purchase with Discovery of All3media, the maker of Midsomer Murders and The Only Way is Essex.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ global head of M&A, Stephen Wilkinson advised BSkyB on the deal, alongside M&A partner Malcolm Lombers and corporate partner Charles Howarth.

A longstanding client, Wilkinson also led on BSkyB’s £160m acquisition of Virgin Media Television from Virgin Media. Lombers, perhaps best known for his advisory role for Qatar Investment Authority and UBS on their £8bn consortium bid for RWE Thames Water last year, was previously instructed by BSkyB on News Corporation’s attempt to take full control of the broadcaster for £7.7bn in 2010. 

Mike Fries, Liberty Global’s CEO, said: ‘This is an opportunistic and attractive investment for us in our largest cable market. ITV is the leading commercial broadcaster in the U.K. and we’re excited to be shareholders.’

As required by the UK Takeover Code, Liberty Global confirmed that it does not intend to make an offer to acquire ITV.