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Deal Watch: Slaughters, Dentons, Taylor Wessing and Nabarro act on high profile European deals

Europe and particularly the UK has thrown up a number of high profile mandates from the nationally significant restructuring of UK Coal through to the solid £500m private equity buyout of Chesapeake by the Carlyle Group.

Nabarro has led for UK Coal on the corporate, insolvency and pension elements of a second restructuring following a devastating fire at the company’s Daw Mill in February. The company accounts for 5% of the UK’s energy needs and as a result of the restructuring over 2,000 jobs and the pensions of 7,000 members have been protected.

Nabarro insolvency and restructuring partner Glen Flannery led alongside corporate partner Ben Hendry and a cross-practice team including pensions partner Ian Greenstreet.

Flannery said: ‘UK Coal has been one of Nabarro’s longest standing clients and to secure the future of its viable mining operations is a positive achievement for everyone involved.’

Elsewhere, Telefonica UK instructed Global 100 UK firm Simmons & Simmons to lead on what is said to be one of the largest contact centre outsourcings in Europe to date and the largest deal of its kind ever entered into by Telefonica UK.

The £1.2bn, 10-year deal sees 2,700 Telefonica advisers based at four sites in Britain transferred to Capita’s management from July 1. The deal involved related real estate, employment, pensions, finance and tax issues.

Alexander Brown, an ICT partner at Simmons who led the deal, told Legal Business: ‘It was a big deal. I would think £500m is a big outsourcing deal so £1.2bn is huge, certainly the biggest Telefonica has ever done.’

Simmons is a longstanding adviser to Telefonica UK and acted on the sale of Manx Telecom in 2011 and a finance and accounting outsourcing to Genpact in 2012.

The deal was led at Telefonica by head of operations (legal and regulatory) Dean Savage, who told Legal Business: ‘[The deal] will create a workforce of 2700. It’s a massive outsourcing deal in terms of people and packs. For us, it’s going to give massive savings.

‘We’ve worked with [Simmons] in the past on M&A work including when we sold Mancks. I find them very good to work with and what I like about them is that they’re not ivory tower. They roll their sleeves up and relate to the clients. They just become part of the O2 team culturally.’

Another UK multi-million pound deal saw Dentons advise UK insurance giant Aviva and its co-investors on the sale of remaining assets at PaddingtonCentral to British Land in a deal worth £470m.

The deal included circa 500,000 square feet of offices and retail/leisure space, a 206 bedroom hotel and two development sites with consent for further 335,000 square feet of offices.

Led by Dentons real estate partner Nichola West and corporate partner Martin Kitchen, the firm’s involvement in the PaddingtonCentral project dates back to 2000, when it acted for Aviva Investors and The Equitable Life on the original acquisition of the development site and the appointment of the original developer.

Since then, the work involved representing the joint venture in negotiating the development documents as well as disposal of the investments.

West said: ‘This sale represents a successful conclusion to Dentons’ 13-year involvement in this award winning scheme. The strength and breadth of our real estate team ensured we were able to guide Aviva through every phase of the project, culminating in this significant sale.’

And while the European private equity market remains unpredictable, one of the largest recent deals has seen Latham & Watkins’ London corporate partner David Walker advise Washington-based private equity group the Carlyle Group on its reported £500m acquisition of packaging company Chesapeake from Oaktree Capital Management and Irving Place Capital. The deal is a significant result for Latham and for Walker, who joined in May from Clifford Chance, where he was global head of private equity.

Walker, who advised alongside finance partners Dominic Newcomb in London and Washington, DC-based Jeffrey Chenard, said: ‘The European PE market has remained choppy in the first half of the year but deals are still getting done. For high quality businesses, the landscape continues to be very competitive.’

Nottingham-headquartered Chesapeake – which produces packaging for Glenfiddich whiskey and Bombay Sapphire Gin – was advised by Slaughter and May led by corporate and commercial partner Jeff Twentyman and Taylor Wessing led by head of private equity Nick Hazell.

Mike Cheetham, chief executive officer of Chesapeake said Carlyle’s ‘backing will support our aspirations to build upon our strong investments over the past three years [and] allow us to respond effectively to new business opportunities as we look to further align our business with our customers’ global requirements.’

Hazell, added: ‘We were delighted to help Mike Cheetham and his team on this. They have built a great reputation in their sector and with Carlyle’s backing can further develop international opportunities. The deal also shows that there is considerable appetite within the market for high quality assets managed by a strong and effective team.’