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Magic Circle trio land roles as London City Airport sold to Canadian consortium in £2bn deal

Three Magic Circle firms won positions to advise on the sale of London City Airport to a Canadian-led consortium of investors in a deal worth £2bn.

Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May acted on the sale of the airport, located 6 miles from London’s financial centre at Canary Wharf, which was completed yesterday with the Canadian consortium successfully outbidding two Chinese firms.

Slaughter and May advised Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) on its 75% interest in the airport. The multinational private equity firm acquired its interest through two successive transactions in 2006 and 2008.

Slaughters corporate partner Mark Horton, who has a focus on domestic and international corporate finance, led the firm’s team on the deal alongside finance partner Philip Snell and tax partner William Watson. Horton has advised GIP in the past, acting as the fund bought London Gatwick Airport back in 2009.

Both Linklaters and Freshfields are advising the Canadian-led consortium, which includes Alberta Investment Management Corporation, Borealis Infrastructure, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and Wren House Infrastructure Management Limited.

Linklaters acted for the consortium on infrastructure matters with partner Ian Andrews taking the lead on the deal along with planning law partner David Watkins. The team for Freshfields’ was led by the co-head of the firm’s energy and natural resources group Laurie McFadden with corporate partner Martin Nelson-Jones. 

Andrews who understands the consortium solidified the sale with a lower offer after a competing bidder with a higher offer failed to show certainty of funds, told Legal Business he was pleased with the result.

He added: ‘It’s important to make sure the bid’s ready. [The certainty of funds failure] shows it’s really important to be ready. It’s a huge amount of work and effort, so it’s pleasing for everybody involved. London City Airport is an airport that’s got a lot of potential and I think that was why it was such an attractive asset for so many people.’