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

Legal Business

Dealwatch: A&O and Ashurst close £1.2bn UK tunnel project as US-led buyouts take centre stage

Dealwatch: A&O and Ashurst close £1.2bn UK tunnel project as US-led buyouts take centre stage

Allen & Overy and Ashurst won leading roles on the £1.2bn Silvertown Tunnel project, the only big-ticket UK-led deal this week in a market awash with US buyouts.

A&O advised a consortium including Aberdeen Standard Investments, BAM PPP PGGM, Cintra, Macquarie and SK Group on the Silvertown Tunnel PPP with a team led by David Lee and including partners Mark Walker and Sara Pickersgill.

An Ashurst team led by partners Terry van Poortvliet and Jonathan Turner advised the procuring authority, Transport for London, on the tunnel, which will run under the River Thames and reduce congestion at the existing Blackwall Tunnel.

Lee commented: ‘This PPP deal is a significant UK infrastructure project which will bring huge benefits to South East London. It is interesting to note that in a world in which political discourse remains outspoken and disruption to our political system continues unabated, business and the public sector can still work together quietly and effectively to deliver important projects.’

Meanwhile leading US firms have dominated this week as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) acquires global jeweller Tiffany & Co for $16.2bn and eBay sold StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05bn.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom advised LVMH on its acquisition of Tiffany & Co for $135 per share in cash, with a valuation of roughly $16.2bn.

The Skadden team was led by New York partners Howard Ellin and Sean Doyle. Allen & Overy advised the banks financing LVMH with a team led by counsel Thomas Roy and partners London-based partner Nick Clark and Todd Koretzky out of New York providing support.

Roy commented: ‘Assembling loan facilities of this size in such a short time period is a testament to the strength of LVMH’s banking relationships and the depth of the European loan market.’

A Sullivan & Cromwell team led by New York corporate partners Frank Aquila and Melissa Sawyer advised Tiffany.

The deal is expected to close in the middle of 2020 and is subject to customary closing conditions, regulatory approvals and approval from Tiffany’s shareholders.

Meanwhile, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, Skadden and Kirkland & Ellis have all won lead mandates alongside Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan as eBay agreed to sell StubHub to Viagogo for a purchase price of $4.05bn in cash.

Both StubHub and Viagogo are ticket marketplaces occupying the live sport, music and entertainment events space, with Viagogo having a much larger international presence, while StubHub is exclusively based in the US. Viagogo’s founder and chief executive Eric Baker co-founded StubHub in 2000 but left the company before eBay acquired it for $310m in 2007.

Baker commented: ‘It has long been my wish to unite the two companies. Buyers will have a wider choice of tickets, and sellers will have a wider network of buyers. Bringing these two companies together creates a win-win for fans – more choice and better pricing.’

Ebay is being advised by a Wachtell team led by corporate partners Daniel Neff, Karessa Cain and Raaj Narayan and includes restructuring and finance partner John Sobolewski and tax partner T.Eiko Stange. Quinn Emanuel is also advising eBay.

Viagogo is being advised by a Skadden team led by M&A partners Howard Ellin and Michael Chitwood and IP and technology partner Stuart Levi as well as a Kirkland team led by debt finance partners Jason Kanner and Andrea Weintraub and capital markets partner Sophia Hudson.

The sale is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2020 and is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

Finally, Skadden also led on another big-ticket transaction, advising PayPal in its $4bn acquisition of Honey.

The Skadden team advising PayPal was led by corporate partner Michael Mies and antitrust/competition partner Ingrid Vandenborre. Latham & Watkins advised Honey Science Corporation with a team led by Los Angeles corporate partners Alex Voxman and Jordan Miller.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ashurst joins flexible lawyering bandwagon as DWF completes BT Law acquisition

Ashurst joins flexible lawyering bandwagon as DWF completes BT Law acquisition

Ashurst has teamed up with US-based law company Elevate and Cognia Law to offer clients flexible lawyering through the firm’s New Law umbrella Ashurst Advance.

The initiative launched today (8 November) and gives Ashurst access to Elevate and Cognia’s flexible lawyering pool, with the offering initially available in both the UK and Australia before being rolled out globally. The arrangement will also allow Ashurst’s clients to access particular expertise for secondees.

‘They needed flexible resource for client demand but didn’t want to build that platform themselves,’ Elevate president John Croft told Legal Business. ‘They are like us in that they have a UK and Australian presence, and we have John Kenton in Australia who helped create the flexible lawyering platform Orbit while he was at Corrs, so we were well-suited.’

Ashurst Advance is the firm’s New Law arm and generates more than £15m in revenue across Brisbane, Sydney, Glasgow and London. This year, Ashurst Advance became the fifth division of the firm alongside its four core legal lines, with project management and technology tool provider Ashurst Advance Delivery and corporate venture arm Ashurst Digital Ventures the two strands within the offering. The latest move builds on an existing arrangement Ashurst has with Cognia collaborating on managed legal services, in a partnership announced earlier this year.  Elevate, meanwhile, struck a flexible lawyering deal with Hogan Lovells in 2018.

‘The legal profession is becoming increasingly split between those who get it and those who do not,’ Croft added. ‘Forward thinking firms like Hogan Lovells and Ashurst are the ones we are working with.’

Meanwhile, listed firm DWF has completed the acquisition of BT’s alternative business structure, BT Law, following a five-year managed legal services deal struck between the two in July.

That deal, the firm’s first major post-IPO client and covering BT’s insurance and real estate work, sees 40 lawyers from BT’s in-house legal team of nearly 400 staff transfer to DWF by the end of this year. It also included the transfer of Sheffield-based BT Law, a business covering motor, employers’ liability and personal liability claims.

It is understood the acquisition of BT Law was for a nominal fee and does not involve any further employee transfers, instead covering a handful of clients moving from BT Law to DWF. No announcement was made to the London Stock Exchange.

A DWF spokesperson commented: ‘The acquisition follows our appointment in July as a strategic legal partner to BT. This is a natural step to take for both DWF and BT following our strategic partnership. It will ensure continuity of service for all of BT Law’s clients, many of whom are also existing DWF clients.’

A BT spokesperson added: ‘Following on from the appointment of DWF as a strategic legal partner earlier this year, we are continuing to transform and simplify the way we work across BT.  The acquisition of BT Law by DWF is an exciting step forward for both businesses, who will continue to deliver outstanding services.’

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

For more on the rise of New Law offerings within law firms, read this month’s cover feature: New Tricks (£)

Legal Business

Bakers makes eleventh City lateral in last year with Ashurst corporate hire

Bakers makes eleventh City lateral in last year with Ashurst corporate hire

Ashurst’s global head of corporate Jason Radford (pictured) is unfazed by the loss to Baker McKenzie’s prolific City hiring spree of corporate partner Nick Bryans and has pledged a sustained investment drive to maintain the firm’s recent financial rebound.

An Ashurst-lifer and partner since 2005, Bryans is joining the London office of Bakers. He follows ten other laterals the expansive firm has made already in London over the last year. He was head of the Ashurst’s Middle East practice in Dubai from 2007 to 2010 and a member of the firm’s Japanese practice group.

Specialising in M&A and equity capital markets, Bryans is focused on energy and resources, infrastructure, transport, pharma and life sciences, industrials and TMT. He advises corporates, banks and financial sponsors on public and private mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, IPOs, private placements and other capital raising deals.

Jane Hobson, head of Bakers’ London M&A practice, commented: ‘Nick’s hire will enhance Baker McKenzie’s market profile in London and accelerate the pace of the step-change we are already seeing in our transactional practices.’

Bryans added: ‘What really appealed to me about Baker McKenzie is its stellar global platform, the breadth of its client base and the strength of its brand. There is also a palpable sense of momentum behind the growth and trajectory of the firm’s transactional practices.’

This is Bakers’ eleventh London partner addition in the last year, following on from the hires of Marc Florent from Allen & Overy (dispute resolution), Prabhu Narasimhan from White & Case (tax), Philip Thomson from Ashurst (corporate/energy, mining & infrastructure), Philip Annett from A&O (financial services), Caitlin McErlane from Sidley Austin (financial services), Peter Lu from White & Case (corporate M&A), Rob Mathews from White & Case (capital markets), David Becker from White & Case (capital markets), Mathew Dening from Sidley Austin (structured capital markets) and Haden Henderson from Ropes & Gray (capital markets).

Meanwhile, Radford is optimistic that the firm’s sharpened focus on financial performance has it well-placed to sustain the upward momentum of its recent success. On the back of three consecutive years of growth, Ashurst 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 last year. PEP 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 in the next financial year.

Radford told Legal Business: ‘We have invested considerably in our global corporate capability, having hired six laterals so far this year. This is all part of a drive to create a higher performing corporate team to consolidate and build on our major successes over the last two years.’

He said there was scope to hire more laterals for the corporate practice over the next few months, with London, France, Italy and Germany all cited as areas of intended investment.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

With news this weekend that Thomas Cook is on the brink of collapse and has ceased trading with immediate effect, a number of global elite firms have been lined up to advise on the latest high-profile collapse of a household name.

Ashurst is advising  the Official Receiver as well as AlixPartners and KPMG, which were appointed as special managers in respect of certain Thomas Cook entities, while Slaughter and May and Latham & Watkins are advising Thomas Cook. Insolvency practitioners from AlixPartners have been appointed as special managers over the airline and tour operator companies, while practitioners from KPMG have been appointed as special managers to the group’s retail division and to its aircraft maintenance companies.

Giles Boothman, Olga Galazoula and Lynn Dunne are leading the Ashurst team, with Crowley Woodford and Ruth Buchanan advising on the employment law aspects and Derwin Jenkinson, Tom Mercer and James Fletcher focusing on the corporate side. Meanwhile, the Slaughters team is being led by Tom Vickers and the Latham team is headed by partners Nick Cline, John Houghton and James Inness.

A Reed Smith team from the UK, Germany and the US are advising the Civil Aviation Authority in relation to the insolvency. The Civil Aviation Authority and AlixPartners will work together to deal with the repatriation of all stranded customers. The team is led by partners Richard Spafford who is advising on licensing and regulatory issues, Charlotte Møller leads on the insolvency law and contingency planning for the repatriation, while Nick Williams is advising on the financial aspects.

Chief executive of Thomas Cook Peter Fankhauser commented: ‘We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook’s future for its employees, customers and suppliers.  Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.’

In July, a team led by restructuring partner Ian Johnson, financing partner Ed Fife and corporate partner Richard Smith from Slaughters and a team from Latham & Watkins advised Thomas Cook Group in relation to the proposed recapitalisation plan.

Thomas Cook was looking for a £750m investment and was in talks with its largest shareholder, Fosun Tourism Group, as well as the company’s core lenders on a substantial new capital investment as part of a proposed recapitalisation and separation of the group.

Muna.abdi@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: US & City firms target Simmons & Simmons as Ashurst makes hires

Revolving doors: US & City firms target Simmons & Simmons as Ashurst makes hires

US & City firms saw a steady influx of lateral hires across sectors as Latham & Watkins, Allen & Overy (A&O) and Watson Farley & Williams hired partners from Simmons & Simmons.

US firm Latham hired Simmons’ head of equity capital markets, Chris Horton, as partner in its corporate department. Horton joined Simmons in 2008 and has experience advising on IPOs, secondary offerings and M&A transactions by listed companies, investment banks, and hedge funds.

Co-chair of Lathams’ corporate department Nick Cline commented: ‘Chris has a terrific blend of transactional and regulatory experience that will be of great value to our clients in the UK and globally.’

Global vice-chair of the corporate department David Walker added: ‘Chris’s experience complements and enhances the existing strength of our ECM and corporate practices in London and globally. His arrival will further advance our goal to become the market’s leading firm for complex, cross-border transactions.’

A&O similarly hired from Simmons, bringing in employment partner Vicky Wickremeratne to its London office. Wickremeratne became partner in 2015 and was previously the managing director and senior counsel of Goldman Sachs Asia, based in Hong Kong.

A&O head of London employment Sarah Henchoz told Legal Business: ‘Vicky spent a lot of time in-house before she joined Simmons & Simmons. She’s really good at looking at what the wider objective is rather than looking through a narrow lense and it’s a very unique perspective in many ways.’

Meanwhile, Watson Farley hired capital markets partner Simon Ovenden in London. Ovenden also joins from Simmons, where he was head of the debt capital market group. Ovenden has experience in debt and equity capital markets transactions and advises both underwriters and issuers across capital markets products.

Ovenden told Legal Business: ‘It is a challenging market with intense competition. You have to show clients something that really distinguishes you from the rest of the pack. You can’t be an average player in capital markets.’

‘It wasn’t a difficult sell for me to join. I like the people and I like the vision and the fact that they see capital markets as being part of what they want to offer,’ Ovenden added.

WFW managing partner Chris Lowe told Legal Business: ‘It’s not an easy market to attract high quality talent and I think it’s a testament to the firm and to Simon to have the vision that the platform will be able to deliver on what he does.

Elsewhere, Ashurst hired partner Ruby Hamid to its dispute resolution team in London. Hamid joins from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where she was counsel, and specialises in white-collar crime, financial regulation, global investigations and risk and compliance.

Head of dispute resolution in EMEA Tom Connor told Legal Business: ‘She brings a white collar crime practice and a deep expertise in corporate and financial crime – bribery and corruption work in particular will be a strong focus for Ruby. Ruby’s hire reflects our continuing focus on international investigations, alongside complex commercial litigation and international arbitration work.’

Mishcon de Reya, meanwhile, appointed Ben Brandon to its white collar crime and investigations team. He joins from barrister’s chambers 3 Raymond Buildings, and specialises in extradition and fraud.

Further afield, Ashurst made another hire from Freshfields in the form of Andrew Craig to its corporate practice in Melbourne, Australia. Craig specialises in digital economy and technology and has experience in advising corporate, private equity firms and financial institutions on technology transactions.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: KPMG and Orrick hire City partners as Ashurst and A&O focus on Germany

Revolving doors: KPMG and Orrick hire City partners as Ashurst and A&O focus on Germany

Lateral hires in London and Germany were the order of last week, with KPMG  bolstering its City legal services bench, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe hiring a London-based energy and infrastructure partner, while Ashurst and Allen & Overy recruited practice heads in Germany.

Big Four accountancy firm KPMG has hired partners Kate Eades from Greenberg Traurig and Usman Wahid from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in a further boon to its legal services capabilities.

Corporate partner Eades’ experience includes advising on mergers and acquisitions, restructurings and joint ventures while Wahid is a commercial and technology partner focusing on IT/technology and outsourcing transactions. He has acted for clients on business critical software, new and disruptive technology as well as infrastructure deals.

UK head of Legal Services at KPMG Nick Roome (pictured) commented: ‘Our clients need the best expertise when they look to KPMG for support with business reorganisations, deals and other complex transactions, which is why we’ve brought in Kate and Usman. Their knowledge and skills will considerably strengthen the depth of our capabilities in this area and further enhance our ability to support KPMG clients with the challenges they face.’

The appointments follow that of Peter Workman in March who joined from PwC and leads the Midlands legal services hub and Angela Savin, who joined the legal service’s tax litigation team as partner from Norton Rose Fulbright in January.

Elsewhere in London, US firm Orrick has hired as a partner former Herbert Smith Freehills energy and infrastructure senior associate Hannah Roscoe.

Roscoe is experienced in global transactional and regulatory matters including project developments, financings and mergers and acquisitions.

Global head of Orrick’s energy and infrastructure group Blake Winburne told Legal Business: ‘Our strategy is to look at the opportunities that present themselves to us in Europe for transactions as well as opportunities that are available from that platform into developing markets around the world. Hannah is going to be an important member for us, particularly on the power regulatory side but also more broadly in the power sector as well as the infrastructure side.’

Macfarlanes is set to lose senior adviser and head of digital and innovation Mike Rebeiro after 18 months. He led an initiative introduced last year to develop the firm’s digital and innovation capability. The firm said Rebeiro will not be replaced, instead a number of partners from across the firm will be moving the initiative forward.

A spokesperson for Macfarlanes said: ‘Mike has led our team to a successful conclusion of our project and we believe we are now uniquely placed to advise our clients in all sectors on the disruptive effects of new technologies. We wish Mike every success in his future endeavours and thank him for the contribution he has made to Macfarlanes.’

Meanwhile in Germany, Ashurst has hired former Shearman & Sterling tax lawyer Anders Kraft to its Frankfurt office as head of tax.

Kraft has experience in national and international tax advice, capital markets transactions, internal corporate restructurings as well as general tax planning and tax disputes. He acts for domestic and international corporate clients, private equity firms, banks and financial services providers.

Managing partner of Ashurst in Germany Tobias Krug commented: ‘Anders is highly experienced in advising on the tax aspects of domestic and international real estate, private equity and corporate transactions and he is a perfectly complement to the European and German tax team.

He added: ‘Ashurst is already ideally positioned in these areas and Anders will make a significant contribution and help us deliver even more for our clients.’

Also in Germany A&O has hired Osborne Clarke data protection expert Ulrich Baumgartner to its Munich office as head of the data protection team in Germany.

Baumgartner focuses on German and European data protection law as well as cloud and IT law. He will work closely with the firm’s IP/tech team.

Senior partner of Allen & Overy in Germany Thomas Ubber commented: ‘Client demand for advice in the field of data and data protection has grown strongly in the wake of various new laws and increased digitalisation and use of technology.

‘With Ulrich, we now have the necessary enhancement at partner level and at the same time further develop our global consulting practice on cloud-based business models.’ Ubber added.

Finally, in Singapore, HFW has added dry shipping expert Christopher Metcalf to its growing shipping practice. Metcalf, who joins from Clyde & Co, has acted for vessel owners, charterers, offshore service contractors, oil majors, mining companies and traders in contentious and non-contentious matters in the shipping, offshore and oil and gas sectors.

In the last five months, HFW has added eight shipping experts globally including shipbroker Chris Jones and an Ince shipping team, which launched the firm’s Monaco office earlier this month.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Kirkland and CMS drink in $3bn pub group takeover as Slaughters and Latham analyse Moody’s disposal

Dealwatch: Kirkland and CMS drink in $3bn pub group takeover as Slaughters and Latham analyse Moody’s disposal

In the customary rush to get deals over the line before the summer lull, the City and US elite have this week lined up on big-ticket transactions including the sale of Moody’s Analytics to Equistone and Slug & Lettuce owner Stonegate’s $3bn acquisition of pub company Ei Group (EIG).

Kirkland & Ellis fielded a team led by corporate partners David Holdsworth and Stuart Boyd to advise buyer Stonegate as it acquired EIG, the largest owner of pubs in the UK. Stonegate, which was formed when funds managed by private equity group TDR acquired 333 managed pubs from Mitchells & Butler, also owns high street brands including Walkabout and Yates.

CMS advised EIG with a team led by partners Gary Green and Gordon Anton. An Ashurst team led by M&A partner Tom Mercer advised Nomura International, Goldman Sachs International and Barclays, the buyer’s financial advisers, on the recommended cash offer.

Meanwhile, Slaughter and May advised longstanding client Moody’s on the sale of its Moody’s Analytics Knowledge Services (MAKS) business to Equistone Partners Europe Limited, a deal which is expected to close later this year.

Latham & Watkins acted for Equistone on the deal, with a team led by London corporate partner David Walker and including London finance partner Charles Armstrong.

Co-head of Slaughters’ infrastructure group, Michael Corbett, told Legal Business: ‘It’s a significant reflection of Moody’s evolving strategic priorities. They’re in the business of producing high value analytical services to their customers, and the so-called knowledge services that’s been disposed of was non-call for Moody’s activities. It was consistent with a strategic repositioning. It was significant because it’s a global business with a multitude of jurisdictions involved and that always creates some complexity in a context of a carve-out business disposal.’

He added that M&A has shown decent levels of activity in spite of the effect the current political uncertainty has had on sterling.

‘A lot of the work we do has a cross-border element and frankly a majority of the work we do is not necessarily domestic UK, but overseas assets and global businesses,’ said Corbett.

MAKS provides outsourced research and analytical support to banks, asset managers and consulting firms through delivery centres in India, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and China. The sale proceeds and repatriated offshore cash will be used to repurchase around $300m of Moody’s outstanding stock.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Addleshaw Goddard also this week landed lead mandates as the European arm of Australia’s Macquarie Group acquired British telecoms company KCOM in a £627 million cash-only deal.

Freshfields advised (MEIF) Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 6 with a team led by corporate and M&A partners Stephen Hewes and Andrew Hutchings.

Addleshaw’s corporate partner Richard Lee and employment partner Jonathan Fletcher Rogers led the team advising KCOM group which operate in Hull, Yorkshire.

Finally, Linklaters’ partner Richard Coar led a team advising SSE Renewables, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Red Rock Power on the refinancing of the 588MW Beatrice offshore wind farm off the coast of Scotland. The firm said the deal shows a strong need for offshore wind assets established by an experienced sponsor group. Norton Rose Fulbright advised a consortium of 29 commercial and institutional lenders and 24 hedging banks in the deal, led by the firm’s head of energy, infrastructure and natural resources in London, Rob Marsh.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Change was necessary: Ashurst joins the war for talent with 9% NQ pay raise

Change was necessary: Ashurst joins the war for talent with 9% NQ pay raise

City stalwart Ashurst has followed suit with peers in the Square Mile to raise the salary for newly-qualified solicitors (NQs), upping the ante to £105,000 including bonuses.

The move will mean a 9% pay increase for NQs, who were previously in line for maximum remuneration of £96,600, effective from the 2020 financial year.

Ashurst London managing partner Ruth Harris (pictured) said: ‘Following a very successful year, we have continued to review our remuneration in order to remain as competitive as possible. We believe a change was necessary and the adjustments will ensure that we continue to attract and retain the best staff.’

The hike is the latest in a spate across the City, started in May by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in a bid to tackle head-on the longstanding war on talent with US rivals in London. It raised its NQ salary by £15,000 to £100,000 plus discretionary bonuses, paving the way for similar moves from the rest of the Magic Circle and other competing firms.

Clifford Chance (CC) followed a month later with £100,000 including bonus, a package matched by Slaughter and May the following week. Allen & Overy then set the same rate, matched by Linklaters earlier this month.

Beyond the Magic Circle, Travers Smith this week increased its NQ salaries by 8% to £85,000 after Macfarlanes added 6% to its base pay to reach £85,000.

Ashurst has seen a remarkable reversal over the last three years under the leadership of global managing partner Paul Jenkins who, on Tuesday (9 July), said the firm was aiming to reach profit per equity partner (PEP) of £1m in the next financial year.

After three consecutive years of growth, Ashurst 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 last year.PEP soared a market-leading 31% to £972,000 from last year’s £743,000.

The results were especially striking given the firm’s financial struggles after its 2013 merger with Australia’s Blake Dawson. Jenkins’ tenure as global managing partner since 2016 has seen a strong 27% uptick in revenue and a 61% hike in PEP from £603,000 in what was a disastrous 2015/16 financial year.

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

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ashurst set to reach £1m PEP target after 31% surge as revenue tops £641m

Ashurst set to reach £1m PEP target after 31% surge as revenue tops £641m

Paul Jenkins, Ashurst’s indomitable managing partner, is aiming to reach profit per equity partner (PEP) of £1m in the next financial year as the City stalwart unveils its best financial results to date.

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 last 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 in the next financial year.

The results are a remarkable reversal of fortune for a firm which struggled financially after its 2013 merger with Australia’s Blake Dawson. Jenkins’ (pictured) tenure as global managing partner since 2016 has coincided with consistent growth, with a three-year view showing a strong 27% uptick in revenue and a market-leading 61% hike in PEP from £603,000 in what was a disastrous 2015/16 financial year.

Jenkins, who has been widely credited for driving a high performance culture at the firm, attributed much of Ashurst’s rebound to sticking with the strategy of investing in the five key sectors of banks and funds, energy and resources, real estate, infrastructure and digital economy.

He told Legal Business that each of the firm’s regions outperformed in 2018/19, with double-digit revenue growth in the corporate, finance, funds and restructuring and dispute resolution practices and above 20% revenue growth in projects and real estate. Revenue in Hong Kong and mainland China grew above 20%, Continental Europe performed strongly, and turnover in the Middle East grew by 40%, driven by a focus on infrastructure, energy and resources.

‘The over-riding message is that I want to not just sustain but improve on these results for the next financial year,’ he told Legal Business. ‘We are not going to stand still. We are all aware of the growth potential of the platform and are pushing hard to get even better results than these next year. We want to reach at least £1m in PEP and are looking to achieve that in the next financial year.’

Ashurst chief financial officer Mark Herbert commented: ‘There has been a real focus on financial discipline at the firm over the last three years. People have been more focused on getting the basics right, including working capital management. It is a really important contributor to our revenue growth and partners are onside and working very hard.’

Jenkins is sanguine about the geopolitical uncertainty affecting the markets and noted that APAC growth should help to hedge against any Brexit-related slowdown in the UK, adding that the firm has also grown US revenue by more than 30% in the last financial year.

Jenkins is planning further strategic investment: ‘Strategy-wise, what I say to partners is that we are looking to grow Continental Europe and Asia at a faster rate than the rest of the firm. We already have a strong presence but would like to be stronger.’

Other business highlights have included low-cost centres in Glasgow and Brisbane which are 20% ahead of budget this financial year, as well as Ashurst Digital Ventures, the in-house development and investment arm of Ashurst Advance, the global innovation team that will have its own P&L from this financial year.

Significant mandates for the year have included advising Goldman Sachs on the launch of its digital-first retail banking platform, Marcus; ANZ on the Royal Commission investigation into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry; Facebook on the establishment of joint ventures with other technology and telecoms giants to build, own and operate several trans-Asia telecoms backbone network; and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the US$2.7bn Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal One Redevelopment project.

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

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk