Legal Business Blogs

Deal watch: LSE acquisition and aviation industry spell busy summer for the Magic Circle

The deal teams of elite City firms have seen a busy end of July amid several multibillion-pound deals, as the London Stock Exchange (LSE) launched a $27bn bid to acquire Refinitiv and Advent International announced the £4bn acquisition of UK aerospace supplier Cobham. Meanwhile, another private equity house investing in the UK aviation industry, CVC Capital Partners, acquired BBA Aviation’s aircraft parts unit Ontic for $1.37bn.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s co-head of financial institutions Andrew Hutchings and corporate partner Stephen Hewes are leading the team advising the LSE, which confirmed on Saturday it is in talks to buy financial markets data provider Refinitiv. Allen & Overy (A&O) is advising Refinitiv’s minority shareholder Thomson Reuters on the deal, led by London partners Richard Evans, Alasdair Balfour and Bob Penn alongside Washington DC partners Chris Salter and Anthony Mansfield.

Thomson Reuters sold its majority stake in Refinitiv to Blackstone last year, retaining control of 45% of the business. Under the proposed terms, the LSE would pay for the transaction through the issue of new shares, meaning Refinitiv shareholders would own around 37% of the combined group. Blackstone is being represented by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, with a team led by M&A partner Elizabeth Cooper and including partners Ben Spiers (M&A);  Greg Grogan (ECEB); Lori Lesser (IP); Drew Purcell (tax); Peter Guryan (antitrust); and Peter Thomas (regulatory).

Part of the Blackstone consortium, GIC is represented by Dechert’s London private equity partner Christopher Field alongside US partners Mark Thierfelder, Jonathan Kim and tax partner Joshua Milgrim.

A&O is also advising Cobham as US private equity house Advent announced one of the largest-ever public-to-private deals in the UK. Co-head of M&A Richard Browne is leading the A&O team, while Linklaters corporate partners Nick Rumsby and Chris Boycott are advising Advent in its £4bn bid for the FTSE 250 business. Weil, Gotshal & Manges is acting for the private equity house on the debt aspects of the transaction, with banking partner Tom Richards and PE partner Jonathan Wood.

Employing more than 10,000 people, Cobham supplies components to both the UK defence sector and Airbus passenger jets. The US takeover of a business connected to British national security is likely to trigger public scrutiny, but one of the advisers on the deal told Legal Business: ‘It is a normal takeover. It is in a sector that’s got more attention for national security reasons, but once people see what it really looks like they will be really excited.’

The deal, which will go to a shareholder vote in September, also saw the involvement of the fast-growing London arms of two US firms advising on the financing side.

White & Case’s head of private credit Gareth Eagles is representing GSO Capital Partners on its financing package to Advent. Eagles’s team also includes London partners Colin Harley, Marcus Booth, Michael Mountain, Philip Broke and Patrick Sarch.

Paul Hastings’ London partner Luke McDougall is advising the arrangers and underwriters Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Citibank. The team also includes London partners Richard Kitchen, Ed Holmes and Roger Barron, as well as New York partners Shekhar Kumar and David Makso.

Elsewhere, Slaughter and May advised BBA Aviation as it sold its Ontic Business to CVC for £1bn. Corporate partner Robert Chaplin led the team, with partner Azadeh Nassiri advising on the financing. The deal saw Freshfields involved again, advising CVC with a transatlantic team of New York partners Valerie Ford Jacob and Paul Humphreys, as well as London partners Charles Hayes, Alex Mitchell and Denise Ryan.