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Skadden, Freshfields and Clifford Chance provide cover as Deustche Bank sells insurer for £935m

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance and have all won places advising on Phoenix Group Holdings’ proposed £935m acquisition of life insurance company Abbey Life from Deutsche Bank.

The transaction will add £10bn worth of assets under management and approximately 735,000 policyholders to Phoenix, one of the largest providers of insurance services in the UK.

It emerged in March Jersey-based Phoenix was preparing to launch a bid for Abbey Life after it was reported Deutsche Bank was considering to sell the insurer in October of last year.

Skadden advised Phoenix with a team including corporate partners Robert Stirling and Linda Davies, capital markets partner Danny Tricot, and tax partner James Anderson.

Freshfields advised the insurance company on debt finance aspects with banking partner Sean Pierce taking the lead, while ARC Pensions Law partner Anne-Marie Winton advised on pension law aspects of the deal. Clifford Chance guided Deutsche Bank through the disposal with a team led by partners Hilary Evenett and Narind Singh.

Phoenix’s director of group legal Phil Hagan told Legal Business: ‘Some deals make you bigger and some make you better but it’s pretty rare you get a deal which does both. After missing out on previous sector activity, signing two deals in less than six months for a total of well over a billion GBP makes us a little like London buses.’

The deal is the latest big insurance mandate following the purchase by Canada Pension Plan Investment (CPPIB) of Ascot Underwriting Holdings, the Lloyds of London insurer linked to American International Group (AIG), as part of a $1.1bn agreement.

On that transaction, Travers Smith advised the senior management team of Ascot with senior partner Chris Hale leading a team including tax partner Kathleen Russ. CPPIB, Canada’s largest pension fund, was advised by a cross-border team at Debevoise & Plimpton including partners Alexander Cochran and Nicholas Potter and London-based David Innes and James Scoville.

Freshfields corporate insurance partner George Swan advised AIG alongside international tax disputes head Helen Buchanan.