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‘Hugely complicated’: Watson Farley, White & Case, A&O line up on $14bn shipping deal

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has advised a group of 29 international and local banks who were acting as financiers on a $14bn merger between shipping giants Hapag-Lloyd and United Arab Shipping Company (UASC).

The merger will create one of the five largest container shipping lines in the world, with 237 vessels and a combined turnover of around $12bn.

Dubai-based finance partner Andrew Baird led for WFW with support from Dubai partner Neale Downes, Hamburg partner Maren Brandes, London partner Kavita Shah and Singapore partner Mei Lin Goh.

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Ince & Co acted for Hapag-Lloyd in the deal, while White & Case provided advice to the UASC. White & Case’s team was co-led by New York partner Chris Frampton and London partner Alison Weal, with partners Michiel Visser and Roger Kiem.

Sami Chowdhury and Jan Hungar acted for Ince & Co and Frankfurt partner Bianca Engelmann led for A&O.

Baird told Legal Business that WFW began working on the deal around eight months ago, commenting: ‘It was a hugely complicated transaction, as you can imagine.’

‘We co-ordinated a team across our Dubai, Hamburg, London and Singapore offices, so a lot of people played their part in bringing their expertise to bear,’ he said.

‘We currently have a lot of mandates of this type, but obviously this transaction is huge in its own right. We won the mandate due to a combination of our market leading position and the fact we have acted for the banks on a large number of the underlying financings in the past.’

The deal is the largest WFW has worked on this year, since landing a role on Shell’s $3.8bn sale of North Sea oil and gas assets in January.

Joe Levin led WFW in advising third party banks, as British investment firm Chrysaor Holdings bought out an initial consideration of $3bn, plus an additional potential payment of up to $600m, subject to commodity prices and $180m for future oil and gas finds.

White & Case partners Ian Bagshaw and Richard Jones advised Harbour Energy Limited, an investment vehicle managed by EIG Global Energy Partners, on its agreement to lead for Chrysaor on the acquisition of the oil and gas portfolio.