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Pinsents picks up key mandate on Carillion’s £1.3bn HS2 contracts

Pinsent Masons has picked up the key advisory mandate as embattled British construction company Carillion was handed a lifeline last month thanks to the award of two contracts worth £1.3bn on the HighSpeed 2 (HS2) project.

Carillion is to build two sections of the UK’s second high-speed rail project from London to Birmingham along with its joint venture partners Kier Construction and France’s Eiffage Genie Civil, which will take at least five years to complete.

The integrated support services company was among the first to be awarded contracts on the controversial HS2 line, including North Portal Chiltern Tunnels to Brackley (worth £724m) and Brackley to Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel South Portal (worth £616m). Pinsents client Balfour Beatty also picked up £2.5bn worth of contracts on HS2.

The contracts were awarded not long after Carillion suffered a steep fall in its share price in July following a profit warning. However shares rose almost 21% after the HS2 contracts were announced.

HS2 is the second high-speed route in the UK, after the completion of HS1 between London and the Channel tunnel, which costs £5.8bn and opened in 2007. The government expects the first phase of construction to be complete by 2026, and the second phase to begin in the mid-2020s and will increase capacity and improve journey times between the two cities.

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) continues to advise HS2 via global head of infrastructure Patrick Mitchell, alongside global co-lead of the non-contentious and engineering practice, Nicholas Downing, and commercial law partner Adrian Clough.

Slaughter and May also has a close advisory relationship with Carillion and was appointed to its roster along with Pinsents in 2015. The Magic Circle firm advised the construction group in 2014 on its proposed £3bn merger with UK rival Balfour Beatty led by corporate partners William Underhill and Kathy Hughes, although talks were abandoned after a third takeover offer was rejected.

Pinsent Masons and Carillion did not comment.