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Real estate: Macfarlanes and Clifford Chance take the lead on £370m Legal & General acquisition

Real estate heavyweights Macfarlanes and Clifford Chance (CC) have landed leading roles on one of the New Year’s first major real estate deals, after Legal & General Property acquired Bishopsgate Long Term Property Fund Unit Trust and its 24-strong portfolio of commercial properties for £370m.

A multi-disciplinary team at Macfarlanes acted for Legal & General Property which comprised M&A partner Luke Powell, investment funds partner Alex Amos, real estate partners Anthony Burnett-Scott and Dominic Cunliffe, tax partner James McCredie and banking partner Jat Bains. CC advised Dutch pension fund manager PGGM which partnered with Legal & General for the acquisition.

Diversified both geographically and by sector and arranged over 1,543,217 sq ft, including two prime London offices located in Covent Garden and Kensington, the portfolio will be held through a Jersey limited partnership, with PGGM and Legal & General Capital acting as limited partners, and LGP acting as the fund manager.

Macfarlanes M&A partner Powell said: ‘This sort of structured real estate transaction is exactly the sort of work we’re delighted to help our key client L&G with. It allowed us to pull together all of the expertise which we have in M&A, tax, funds, banking and real estate in a challenging time frame and helped L&G win out in a competitive bidding process.’

Although Magic Circle players have downsized their real estate practices in recent years, CC continues to be perceived as a front runner for high-end work with a deep bench of players, despite partner headcount dropping from 53 in 2009 to 33 in 2014. Other heavyweight mandates includes advising the Battersea Power Station Development Company on the £1bn extension of the Northern Line to Battersea Power Station.

Major recent deals for Macfarlanes include advising the Industrial Property Investment Fund, an investment fund managed by Legal & General, on a £350m lending facility deal for the refinancing of a portfolio of over 160 multi-let industrial properties in England, Wales and Scotland, worth a gross value of over £1bn.

The firm has also made substantial efforts in recent years to enhance its offering in the sector, including the hire of Ashurst duo Anne Minogue and Anthony Burnett-Scott, and Shearman & Sterling partner Claire Breeze in 2013.

For more on the real estate market, see Back in the game – revival at last for real estate but the players have changed