Legal Business

Financials 2020/21: Ashurst breaks the £1m PEP barrier again as turnover climbs 10%

Financials 2020/21: Ashurst breaks the £1m PEP barrier again as turnover climbs 10%

In another set of buoyant pandemic financial results, Ashurst has breached the £1m-profit-per-equity-partner barrier for the first time since the global financial crisis, while revenues received a double-digit boost.

PEP stood at £1.038m, a striking 15% increase on last year’s £903,000 figure. In doing so, Ashurst has fulfilled managing partner Paul Jenkins’ ambition to top £1m in PEP , albeit a year later than hoped. 

There was also an impressive 10% growth in revenue, climbing from £644m to £711m. On a five-year stretch, Ashurst’s revenues have grown by a resounding 40%, while PEP jumped an above-trend 72% over the same period.

On breaking the £1m PEP barrier, Jenkins (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘I don’t think there is a particular symbolic significance to it, we achieved it a number of years ago. I am more pleased with the fact that we have now had five consecutive years of strong revenue growth and 85% of our revenue this year came from our five focus sectors. Reaching £1bn in revenue will however be symbolic, and we are now not far off achieving that milestone.’

A pre-merger Ashurst previously topped £1m PEP in the 2007/8 financial year, before profitability nose-dived at most firms amid the global financial crisis.

As alluded to by Jenkins, Ashurst saw over 10% revenue growth in each of its banks and private capital, digital economy and energy and resources sectors, but the firm’s international network also proved a significant source of growth. Continental Europe and Asia both achieved double-digit revenue increases, with ‘particularly impressive’ performances in Germany, Paris, Luxembourg and Singapore. Ashurst confirmed that its UK business was also up by double-digits.

Ashurst is the latest in a line of firms to report a flurry of transactional activity in the second half of the financial year which boosted results. Key mandates highlighted by the firm included advising PPL Corporation on the £7.8bn sale of UK electricity distribution group Western Power Distribution, and assisting software company AVEVA Group on its $5bn buyout of OSlsoft.

Jenkins concluded: ‘The trading performance we saw throughout FY21 has continued into the new financial year. We have maintained momentum in the market, with each division starting the year ahead of budget.  We have an incredibly well-diversified business and there are some significant opportunities in the industries in which we have great strengths. We are in a strong position to deliver on our ambitious growth strategy for this financial year and beyond.’

Tom.baker@legalbusiness.co.uk

For more on Ashurst’s unlikely rebound in recent years, see ‘Inflection point – Ashurst steps back from the brink but can the revival last?‘ (£)

Legal Business

Respected Ashurst dealmaker Karen Davies steps up to succeed Tidswell as chair

Respected Ashurst dealmaker Karen Davies steps up to succeed Tidswell as chair

Ashurst has elected formidable M&A veteran Karen Davies to succeed Ben Tidswell as its global chair, making it the latest major law firm to elevate a senior female partner.

Davies, who is currently UK head of corporate and a member of the global board, will begin her four-year term as chair in August.

She has long been recognised as one of the City’s most prolific and influential dealmakers, no mean feat given the historical boys’ club environment that was certainly still in existence as she climbed the ranks.

Speaking to Legal Business, Davies said: ‘I’m really proud, I feel privileged. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being on the board over the last four years and acting as UK head of corporate. For me, it’s the opportunity to serve the firm and to take us to the next phase of our growth, which is going to be a really exciting time. We’ve got our defining strategy and we’ve had a fantastic year and it’s now about taking us to the next level.

‘I absolutely want to carry on with the fee-earning – doing deals is what I love. We have a fantastic business in corporate, we have hugely talented senior partners, excellent junior partners that I’ve helped to bring through over the last few years and some really strong senior associates. We have a very strong bench that will support me on transactions. Being close to clients and doing the transactions is important for you to understand client issues, so I definitely want to strike that balance.’

Tidswell noted: ‘Karen has an outstanding track record in delivering for our clients, our people and the business and I know she will make an extraordinarily good chair.’

Global managing partner Paul Jenkins echoed the sentiment: ‘I have worked very closely with Karen as UK head of corporate and a member of our board and her ability to combine management and leadership roles with a very successful practice is truly impressive. Her incomparable commitment, client focus and drive will be invaluable to the firm in her new role.’

For his part, Tidswell has been much-admired for helping steer Ashurst through some difficult years following its 2013 merger with Blake Dawson, alongside Jenkins. He is standing down from the partnership and has accepted a judicial appointment as a panel chairman of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

The new configuration of the board will be: chair Karen Davies (London), global managing partner Paul Jenkins (London/Sydney), partners David Jones (London), Tobias Krug (Frankfurt), Phil Breden (Sydney), Kylie Lane (Melbourne), chief financial officer Mark Herbert (London) and independent board members Wu Gang and Robin Lawther.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

 

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Management Partner of the Year

Legal Business Awards 2020 – Management Partner of the Year

We now come to the penultimate award of our 2020 Legal Business Awards season and we are delighted to reveal our Management Partner of the Year.

The winner of this award is a UK-based managing partner, senior partner, head of chambers, chief executive or chief operating officer who truly led the way for their business in 2019. Key factors that influenced our judging panel included market profile, outstanding strategic thinking, superb communication skills and the extent to which these individuals have the support of staff and clients in driving the firm’s business forward.


 

 


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Winner – Paul Jenkins, Ashurst

That Paul Jenkins was reappointed as Ashurst’s global managing partner for a second four-year term last summer spoke volumes, reflecting the credit he has won for turning Ashurst’s fortunes around following a struggles with profit and revenue growth since the merger of Ashurst and Blake Dawson in 2013.

Hitting every metric for success for the 2018/19 financial year, with profit per equity partner increasing by 61% and revenue enjoying a 27% uptick, Ashurst acknowledges Jenkins for ‘the clarity of his vision, strength of his leadership and inimitable work ethic’. And justifiably so.

Jenkins has pioneered a sharp focus on key practice areas, the success of which is reflected in 90% of the firm’s revenue now being generated by those sectors, while performance has been bolstered across all regions and investment in Asia has yielded impressive results.

He has also won plaudits for streamlining the executive and promoting a high-performance culture, abolishing lockstep in favour of a merit-based remuneration system, stepping up staff performance reviews and encouraging collaboration.

Jenkins also oversaw the implementation of extended points and a bonus pool in which all partners can participate. Elsewhere, Ashurst Advance was made into a division of the firm, highlighting a heightened emphasis on innovation and digital transformation. The year also saw the launch of Ashurst Digital Ventures, the in-house development and investment arm of Ashurst Advance, which creates, designs and builds digital products.

Jenkins has also been commended for re-setting gender targets and for making strides in the firm’s diversity and inclusion agenda. He was the first law firm leader to join the Male Champions of Change programme in Australia, which works with leaders in the business community to redefine men’s role in promoting gender equality.

Ashurst says of its respected global managing partner: ‘The firm demanded transformative and decisive leadership, which is precisely what Paul Jenkins has delivered. He has ensured that Ashurst has continued to evolve, adapt and renew itself which has delivered for the firm, its people and its clients.’

Highly Commended – David Pester, TLT

April 2020 saw David Pester, one of the UK’s most successful and longstanding law firm leaders, step down as managing partner of TLT, a firm that he has taken from Bristol-focused contender to a top 50 firm in the Legal Business 100.

Since Pester was elected to the helm in 2001 following the merger of Trumps and Lawrence Tucketts to form TLT, revenue has grown from just £8m to £87.6m; the firm has opened six new offices; and increased in size to more than 1,000 staff.

His legacy as he made way for incoming managing partner John Wood has been a solid financial foundation and exceptional governance. In 2019 Pester said of his stepping down: ‘One of the things I’ve learned over 19 years is whenever you go through the different trading cycles there’s always opportunity. I’ve been making sure the TLT balance sheet is as strong as possible to take advantage of difficulties others may face in the market if it becomes more uncertain. John’s got a fantastic platform to work from.’

Other nominations

Charles Martin, Macfarlanes

Macfarlanes remains one of the most successful and profitable operators in the City, which is largely thanks to the outstanding leadership of senior partner Martin over the last 12 years. As the firm saw new leadership take over in April, it should acknowledge the contribution of Martin’s cool head at a time when many rivals were losing theirs. A class act.

Lee Ranson, Eversheds Sutherland

While Eversheds has had its fair share of successful and charismatic leaders over the years, Ranson has driven the firm during one of its most progressive phases since being elected in 2016. Financial performance has been strong since its transformative tie-up with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, while the spin-off of alternative service Konexo in 2019 was the latest strategic masterstroke.

Michael Ward, Gateley

Ward hung up his boots in May after more than 30 years at Gateley, having achieved more than most law firm leaders possibly could. While remaining a shareholder in the UK’s first-ever listed law firm, Ward hands over a firm that has gone from a third-tier Birmingham outfit to a £100m national player via a tie-up in Scotland and a stock market listing.

Legal Business

Australia yields two new board members for Ashurst as Davies gets re-elected in London

Australia yields two new board members for Ashurst as Davies gets re-elected in London

Ashurst has elected two new board members from its corporate partner ranks in Sydney and Melbourne while respected dealmaker Karen Davies has been reappointed in London.

The move, which takes effect on 1 November, sees Sydney corporate partner Phil Breden and Melbourne corporate partner Kylie Lane elevated as Davies, who has been on the board since 2017, is re-enlisted for a further stint.

Breden specialises in M&A and corporate advisory, advising large ASX-listed companies as well as US-based and European multinationals across a range of sectors, particular in energy, utilities, construction and manufacturing. He has held a number of management roles, including global co-head of corporate and head of region for Australia.

Lane specialises in M&A, equity capital markets, corporate advisory and governance. She has particular expertise in the energy, resources, built environment and infrastructure sectors, and has significant international M&A  experience, including navigating Australia’s foreign investment laws.

Davies, who is UK head of corporate, was noted as a formidable and prolific dealmaker in Legal Business’ 2018 analysis on leading female partners in the City. She has extensive experience in advising both corporate clients and investment banks on a range of domestic and cross-border corporate finance transactions across M&A and equity capital markets.

Ben Tidswell, Ashurst’s chair, said: ‘I would like to congratulate Phil and Kylie on their appointment and Karen on her re-appointment to the board. They have extensive combined experience and their expertise, knowledge and leadership will be invaluable to our firm in addressing opportunities and challenges during this unprecedented time for the global economy and the legal sector.’

Davies commented: ‘Being re-elected to the Board is a great honour and I look forward to continuing to represent the interests of the partners and staff at an exciting time for our firm.’

As of 1 November, the board will comprise chairman Ben Tidswell (London), global managing partner Paul Jenkins (London/Sydney), partners Phil Breden (Sydney), Karen Davies (London), David Jones (London), Tobias Krug (Frankfurt) and Kylie Lane (Melbourne), chief financial officer Mark Herbert (London) and independent board members Wu Gang and Robin Lawther.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings completes swift one-two to dominate last week’s City recruitment

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings completes swift one-two to dominate last week’s City recruitment

Paul Hastings was the only notable mover in the City lateral market over the past week, with the US firm securing a swift double hire to bolster its finance practice.

The firm announced today (24 August) that infrastructure partner Derwin Jenkinson would be joining the practice from Ashurst. Jenkinson leaves after a seven-year spell at Ashurst, where he advised on loan and capital markets across infrastructure M&A and project finance matters. Prior to Ashurst, Jenkinson cut his teeth as a senior associate in Clifford Chance’s capital markets practice. 

The hire of Jenkinson followed that of Peter Hayes, who joined the firm from the City office of Shearman & Sterling last week. Hayes spent more than 20 years at Shearman, building a practice which focuses on loans, acquisitions, leveraged finance matters, and restructuring work. Hayes will now be reunited with fellow former Shearman partner Mei Lian, who joined Paul Hastings in May also after a two-decade stint at Shearman.

‘The start of this year has been sound in terms of cash collections and that strong balance sheet means we can keep hiring,’ Paul Hastings London chair Arun Birla (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘We don’t want to rest on our laurels; we could end up like a lot of firms I see just frozen in fear. We have strengthened in finance and restructuring, no doubt we will continue strengthening where we have been: litigation, finance and restructuring, and of course corporate and private equity.’

However, Paul Hastings has also seen its share of exits since the start of the year. In June, corporate partners Ed Harris and Leanne Moezi ended their short stint at Paul Hastings to return to Hogan Lovells, having only left the firm for Paul Hastings in July of the previous year.

Elsewhere, Ashurst enhanced its Australian presence, hiring infrastructure and energy partner Chris Skordas from the Dubai office of Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF). Skordas had been a partner at HSF since May 2016, having advised clients in sectors such as power and water, renewables, real estate, oil and gas, and transport and social infrastructure.

Commenting on the hire, Angus Foley, practice group head at Ashurst, said: ‘Chris has extensive experience in limited recourse financing and he will play a key role in developing Ashurst’s project finance team in Melbourne. His breadth of project finance experience, sector knowledge, reputation and network in Australia and the Middle East will be a valuable addition to our Infrastructure and Energy practice.’

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Ashurst launches consulting arm to handle Covid-19 demand with Deloitte partner hire

Ashurst launches consulting arm to handle Covid-19 demand with Deloitte partner hire

Ashurst has launched a consulting business with the hire of a senior Deloitte partner in Australia to deal with growing client demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm said today (31 March) it had hired Philip Hardy, a partner at the Big Four consultancy since 2008 and head of its Australian governance, regulation and conduct advisory business. The resulting Ashurst Consulting will initially be offered in Australia and will advise clients on minimising risk, manage change and bolstering business performance.

The risk advisory part of the business led by Hardy launched today, with more partners expected to join in the coming months. It will focus on regulatory compliance, conduct and risk management, initially targeted at financial services clients.

It follows on from the launch on 1 March of a board advisory service for leadership and governance issues, spearheaded by Joshua Smith.

Ashurst global managing partner Paul Jenkins (pictured) said: ‘His experience looking after businesses during the GFC and in the aftermath will be an asset to the global firm and our partners, who will be advising our clients through the multitude of effects Covid-19 is having on their businesses.’

Prior to the coronavirus making itself properly felt in global markets, Ashurst had been making a sustained investment in its European corporate practice, earlier this month hiring high-growth and tech lawyer Jonathan Cohen from Clyde & Co the day after adding Fabio Niccoli from CDP Equity in Milan.

Market turmoil notwithstanding, Ashurst has enjoyed a stronger period than most as firms hunker down to withstand inevitable market reversals. Last year, on the back of three consecutive years of growth, the firm added £77m to its top line to hit £641m for the year to 30 April 2019, a significant 14% increase on the £564m turnover of the previous year. PEP has also soared 31% to £972,000 from last year’s £743,000, putting Ashurst within sight of its stated intention of smashing the £1m PEP barrier this financial year.

 nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ashurst ramps up corporate investment with City tech partner and Milan PE head

Ashurst ramps up corporate investment with City tech partner and Milan PE head

Ashurst has fired up its corporate hiring drive by adding a second corporate partner in as many days in the form of high-growth and tech lawyer Jonathan Cohen from Clyde & Co.

The London hire comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s recruitment of Fabio Niccoli from CDP Equity, where he was general counsel, to lead the firm’s private equity offering in Milan.

Cohen had been at Clydes since 2017, most recently as a legal director. He advises on private M&A, fundraisings, private equity, commercial contracts, restructuring, and general corporate and commercial matters. Clients include high growth technology focused businesses across the financial, health, renewables, education, engineering and software sectors.

Ashurst head of corporate Karen Davies said: ‘[Cohen’s] experience will be a great complement to the work we are undertaking in building our high growth & VC team, led by Tara Waters. Jonathan’s strong credentials within the space will help us to even further accelerate the growth of our technology focused practice, alongside our strong M&A capabilities.’

Meanwhile in Milan, Niccoli, who had been CDP’s GC since 2012, was responsible for setting up the entire legal structure of the business. He has advised on a number of high-end private M&A and private equity deals, with a focus on the Italian mid-cap market. He began his career at Bonelli Erede Pappalardo.

He has also worked at Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners, before joining the newly-founded firm, Labruna Mazziotti Segni, contributing to its start-up and becoming a partner in the M&A and private equity practice.

Ashurst Milan office managing partner Carloandrea Meacci said: ‘This is a significant development for our practice in Milan – we are able to offer first-rate private equity expertise to complement our market-leading offering in all areas of infrastructure and energy M&A.’

The moves come after Jason Radford, Ashurst’s global head of corporate, last October vowed to redouble the firm’s hiring efforts for corporate, with London, France, Italy and Germany all cited as areas of intended investment.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ashurst enters US West Coast with four-lawyer Santa Monica projects play

Ashurst enters US West Coast with four-lawyer Santa Monica projects play

Ashurst has launched a four-lawyer transport and infrastructure-focused base in Santa Monica, its second US office after New York.

The firm announced today (25 February) that projects partner Anna Hermelin has relocated from the firm’s Tokyo office to become managing partner of the new West Coast operations in the Los Angeles County.

The new outpost, staffed by Hermelin and three California-qualified Ashurst associates, will focus on projects and project finance work in the transport and social infrastructure sectors. Ashurst aims to grow the team to between seven and ten lawyers within a year.

A spokesperson for Ashurst said the launch was a reflection of mandates on the West Coast having increased significantly and was ‘aligned to the firm’s ambitions in terms of its projects, project finance and infrastructure offering’.

Hermelin told Legal Business that the firm was already working with clients including LA Metro and that the upcoming 2028 Los Angeles Olympics were ‘a strong driver for a number of infrastructure projects.’

She said that the choice of Santa Monica over downtown Los Angeles was ‘purely logistical’: ‘It’s closer to where people live and we can drive [into LA] if we have client meetings.’

California has gathered increasing attention from international law firms in the last few years, although interest has mainly been focused on the booming Bay Area tech scene rather than the Los Angeles surroundings.

Some point to a growing gap between the North and the South of the state, with fewer financial institutions and public companies based around Los Angeles compared to a decade ago and reverberations across the legal industry. New York royalty Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, for example, has reduced its LA headcount in recent years and is planning to move to smaller premises when its current lease expires in 2021.

Others however point to the growing strength of the media and entertainment scene around LA’s Century City district, with Latham & Watkins launching locally in 2014 and Paul Hastings following suit in March 2018. The burgeoning tech scene around the area ambitiously dubbed Silicon Beach, between LA and Santa Monica, is also getting more attention from investors, with Boston-bred Goodwin launching in Santa Monica last year.

Other firms to open Southern California bases recently include Baker McKenzie in March 2018 and Clyde & Co in July 2017.

The launch of Ashurst’s second US base after New York follows the firm posting robust financials in 2018/19, with revenue rising 14% to £641m and profits per equity partner soaring 31% to £972,000. The firm has made considerable headway in New York in recent years having built out a generative government-side infrastructure advisory offering.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

For more on Ashurst’s unlikely rebound, see Inflection point (£) 

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Ashurst appoints planning co-head as Eversheds bolsters its City commercial practice

Revolving doors: Ashurst appoints planning co-head as Eversheds bolsters its City commercial practice

In a slower week than usual for City laterals, Ashurst appointed a co-head of its planning team as Eversheds Sutherland made hires in London and Hong Kong and Clyde & Co lost a partner in Edinburgh.

Ashurst hired real estate partner Claire Dutch as co-head of the firm’s planning team in London. She joined from Hogan Lovells where she was head of the planning team, focusing on planning law, highway law and heritage law. Dutch also has experience in managing major regeneration projects, including energy and waste projects.

Meanwhile, Eversheds hired partner Simon Lightman to its commercial practice from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in London.

Lightman has experience in commercial, technology and data transactions with a focus on restructuring and renegotiation of legacy outsourcing arrangements as well as outsourcing deals and procurements. He has acted for customers and suppliers in the financial services sector as well as retail, telecommunications and aviation.

Eversheds also appointed Shepherd and Wedderburn’s banking and finance litigation head to its Edinburgh office.

Frood advises on personal injury, professional negligence, fraud and contentious trust. He has worked with retail banks, building societies and major clearing banks as well as with funders, insurers, auditors and advisers.

These appointments follow a number of recent lateral hires in the litigation & disputes practice including litigation partner Mark Hughes in Hong Kong in October, commercial dispute resolution partner Claire Stockford in London in July and real estate litigation partner Tekla Fellas in London in March.

Partner and head of the technology group Simon Gamlin told Legal Business: ‘We’ve been looking to grow our technology practice particularly in London for the last 18 months. Simon’s practice covers general commercial and technology transactions and that includes traditional IT outsourcing arrangements but also newer more disruptive technologies.

‘We have a steady flow of work in the financial services sector which Simon has expertise in, particularly in banking but he also offers opportunities across a range of other sectors particularly retail and telecoms,’ added Gamlin.

Partner and head of real estate dispute resolution, North at Eversheds Damian Hyndman told Legal Business: ‘Alastair provides us with a great opportunity to consolidate and expand our litigation offering in Scotland. He shares our drive and ambition. He is a talented all round litigator with a particular reputation for banking, finance and insolvency litigation, which complements our existing senior team well. He has demonstrated an ability to successfully grow teams, show strong leadership and he fits in well with the firm’s culture, which is incredibly important. We think his strong personal brand and reputation will help us to grow our global brand in Scotland.’

In another reversal for Clydes, partner Calum Mathieson has left the firm’s Edinburgh office to join Plexus Law. Mathieson acts on complex and large loss employer, public and product liability claims on behalf of insurers and has experience in managing health and safety prosecutions on behalf of corporate insurers.

Mathieson told Legal Business: ‘Plexus is a forward thinking, progressive firm. I’m here to concentrate on developing some of the relationships I already have with a number of insurers.’

‘Partners from Kennedy’s moved across this year and I’ll be working with them in terms of developing the good connections Plexus already has, particularly in the London market,’ added Mathieson.

Elsewhere, DLA Piper added Stephen Wong to its litigation and regulatory practice in Hong Kong. Wong joined the firm from Stevenson, Wong & Co where he was a partner since 2015. Wong has experience in regulation and corporate matters, particularly in regulatory and criminal investigations in connections with commercial crimes.

Head of DLA’s litigation and regulatory practice in Asia Kevin Chan commented: ‘Stephen’s hire is part of our continued investment in the regulatory space in Asia. Our clients increasingly require solutions which help them meet their compliance obligations, as well as manage risk. Stephen’s skillset and experience will be a valuable asset to our team, and will enable us to deepen our relationships with existing and new clients.’

Finally, Paul Hastings added capital markets partner Chaobo Fan from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to its Hong Kong office. Fan has a particular focus on securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions and has experience advising Chinese companies on their listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Chair of Paul Hastings Seth Zachary commented: ‘We’re meeting our clients’ demand for help with increasingly complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions. The arrival of top talent like Chaobo adds further depth to our capital markets practice in Hong Kong, one of the world’s premier listing markets.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Slaughters and Ashurst make headlines on i newspaper sale as DLA and A&O dine out on Bookatable acquisition

Dealwatch: Slaughters and Ashurst make headlines on i newspaper sale as DLA and A&O dine out on Bookatable acquisition

In a busy week for UK buyouts, Slaughter and May advised Daily Mail and General Trust on the £49.6m acquisition from JPIMedia of i newspaper and its website by its consumer media business, DMG Media.

The Slaughters team was led by corporate partner Rebecca Cousin while an Ashurst  team led by corporate partner Braeden Donnelly advised JPIMedia Group.

Donnelly told Legal Business: ‘The sale of the i newspaper to Daily Mail was a significant first step for JPIMedia in realising value for bondholders. It is also part of a wider trend we are seeing in the UK print media market where consolidation is picking up pace as media owners respond to slowing print sales and increased competition from online alternatives.’

The deal was completed on 29 November. Ashurst previously advised Johnston Press on its acquisition of the i newspaper business from Independent Print Limited in 2016.

Meanwhile, DLA Piper advised Michelin on the sale of London-headquartered restaurant reservation business Bookatable to TripAdvisor company TheFork.

The acquisition allows competitor TheFork to consolidate in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Finland and Norway meaning that 14,000 restaurants on Bookatable will join the 67,000 restaurants available on TheFork.

The DLA team was led by London partner Tim Wright and Paris partner Simon Charbit while an Allen & Overy team led by Richard Browne advised TripAdvisor.

The acquisition follows Michelin’s content and licensing partnership with TripAdvisor and its subsidiary TheFork. The partnership means that Michelin guide inspectors will be grading restaurants according to the ‘stars, bib gourmand and Michelin plate’ on the TripAdvisor and TheFork websites. 4,000 restaurants in Europe will also be available on TheFork and the Michelin Guide’s digital platform.

French firm Gide advised Michelin on the partnership with a team led by partner Guillaume Rougier-Brierre.

Elsewhere, Travers Smith has advised New York Stock Exchange-listed company Noble Corporation on the acquisition of its 50%interest in the Bully I and Bully II drillship joint ventures by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell for a value of $166m.

Shell will pay a final cash settlement of roughly $59m of to Noble for its two drillships. Nobel, which owns and operates fleets in the offshore drilling industry, issued a note payable to Shell which satisfied a portion of the buyout price.

The Travers team was led by corporate partner Richard Spedding and Shell was advised in-house.

Finally. Addleshaw Goddard advised the promotional products company Pebble Group on its flotation on the AIM market with a fundraising value of £135m. It is the eighth IPO on AIM this year and the largest in terms of funds raised. The firm also advised on the £28m essensys listing in May and the £57m Brickability Group IPO in September.

The Addleshaw team was led by corporate partner Richard Lee. Lee told Legal Business: ‘What it means for the group is that they are no longer a private equity owned business and they no longer have the debt structure that goes with the private equity ownership. It gives them an improved balance sheet because the funds they raised in the IPO have been used to pay off the debt which they were previously carrying.

‘There were preferred share structures in there, plus loan notes, plus bank debts and the purpose of the fundraising for the company was to clear out that debt,’ added Lee.

The equity fundraise was managed by Berenberg with Grant Thornton acting as adviser. A London Bird & Bird equity capital markets team led by Adam Carling advised Berenberg as broker and Grant Thornton as nominated adviser.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk