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Dealwatch: Davis Polk and Linklaters act on UBM’s £565m rights issue

Corporate partner Simon Witty, who Davis Polk & Wardwell hired from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2012 to launch its English law practice, has been selected by FTSE 250 events company UBM to run a £565m rights issue to fund the purchase of trade show organiser Advanstar.

Witty and corporate partner Jeffrey O’Brien are handling the issue of 196.7 million shares, which represents about 80% of its existing issued share capital. Witty said: ‘We’ve had a busy year. A few things didn’t complete, which was disappointing, but activity levels have been high.’

Should shareholder approval be received, the rights issue will be complete by Christmas and the deal for Advanstar finalised by the end of January. The purchase of Advanstar, which owns men’s fashion event PROJECT NYC and runs a 10-city motorcycle show that attracts 600,000 visitors a year, will cost UBM £599m and makes it the number one fashion events company in the US.

Linklaters‘ John Lane, who heads the Magic Circle firm’s equities practice, is advising joint brokers and underwriters for the rights issue JP Morgan and Credit Suisse. A £100m bridge facility has been established to support the acquisition.

Lane, who recently handled the IPO of over-50s insurer Saga, was supported on the rights issue Patrick Sheil, a partner in Linklaters’ London-based US practice.

On the acquisition itself Morgan, Lewis & Bockius led for UBM with a team including international managing partner Charles Engros, co-head of M&A partner Jonathan Morris and London-based partners Iain Wright and Matthew Howse. Advanstar was advised by Slaughter and May led by partners Stephen Cooke and Bertand Louveaux and a team from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison including partners Thomas de la Bastide and Tarun Stewart.

Tim Cobbold, CEO of UBM, said: ‘In addition to being financially attractive, it strengthens UBM’s core events business while balancing and complementing UBM’s strong events portfolio in emerging markets. UBM will become the largest events organiser in the US – the biggest events market in the world.’

Davis Polk’s London office was involved in one of Europe’s biggest IPOs this year when it advised the underwriters on the €7bn float of Dutch insurer NN Group and in a nod the City, made up its first London partner in five years with the promotion of corporate lawyer Reuven Young this summer.