Legal Business

Freshfields to double office space in Manchester as low-cost services site in Salford confirmed


Having taken its first step toward offering alternative legal services to clients earlier this year, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has selected a long-term base for its low-cost services hub in Manchester, double the size of its current office.

The Magic Circle firm will move from its temporary base in Manchester’s city centre to permanently occupy One New Bailey, located by Spinningfields in Salford. Staff are expected to move into the new premises from early 2017.

The firm has leased 80,000 sq ft with the flexibility of adapting ‘the amount of space that [Freshfields] would occupy to reflect the evolving needs of [its] clients and business’.

The legal and business services centre, called the Global Centre, opened its doors in the northwest in July this year after it announced it was to move the majority of its support services team out of its London office for a cheaper and more efficient alternative.

The office will accommodate legal services staff, as well as human resources, IT, marketing and business development, office management, document specialists and change management. It is currently based in Arndale House where the firm has a 40,000 sq ft lease.

The transfer from London remains ongoing and is expected to create a number of redundancies within the support services team, although many are expected to relocate in phases starting next year, with back office staff being the first to relocate. Alongside business services, repetitive legal work is also being shifted to the new centre.

In May, Freshfields appointed Anup Kollanethu as centre director for the combined services after it signed a lease for space in Arndale House. ‘One New Bailey gives us both the high quality and attractive location we want for our staff,’ said Kollanethu.

Salford mayor Ian Stewart added: ‘It’s exciting news that Freshfields has selected Salford as the long term location for its global services centre. We welcome the creation of new jobs in Salford and the city council is ready to work with the firm to make their staff welcome and to assist with recruitment support.’

Knight Frank Manchester advised Freshfields throughout the selection process for its long term Manchester premises.

Legal Business

Freshfields, Allen & Overy lay foundations for McCarthy & Stone’s £1bn flotation


Magic circle firms Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have taken lead roles on retirement homebuilder McCarthy & Stone’s plans to float on the London stock exchange.

An Allen & Overy team led by corporate partner Richard Browne with support from equity capital markets partner James Roe and US securities partner Adam Wells is advising McCarthy & Stone, which wants to return to the stock market almost a decade after it was taken private.

McCarthy & Stone wants to sell at least a quarter of its business to raise £70m for land business, which would value the company at about £1bn.

Underwriters Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs and Jefferies International are being advised by Freshfields, with partner Mark Austin leading a team.

McCarthy & Stone chief executive Clive Fenton said: ‘There is a structural under-supply of specialist retirement housing in the UK and McCarthy & Stone has the expertise, track record and financial strength to address this need.’

‘Listing on the London Stock Exchange will provide the ideal foundation for the Group to move to the next stage of its development and the Board and I will continue to work hard to deliver on our ambitious growth plans,’ he added.

For Allen & Overy, the appointment is the latest in a string of IPO mandates for the firm which last month picked up new client Ibstock, advising on the brick maker’s plans £1bn listing. Allen & Overy as well as Freshfields also acted on the London stock exchange’s biggest float this year, of payments company Worldpay.

Legal Business

Weil Gotshal, A&O and Freshfields advise on Worldpay float


Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have all picked up work advising card payment services provider Worldpay Group as it sells shares on the London stock exchange.

Worldpay’s owners Advent International and Bain Capital opted for an initial public offering (IPO) over a bid from its French rival Ingenico.

The private-equity owners aim to raise around £890m in an offering which Worldpay will use to reduce debt. The company’s publicly traded shares are expected to be at least 25% of outstanding stock.

The float could value the payments processing company at more than £6bn in what is expected to be one of the largest London IPOs this year.

Weil advised Advent International and Bain Capital, led by London partner Marco Compagnoni with Peter King leading on the IPO. Other members of the Weil team included corporate partners Samantha McGonigle and Simon Lyell.

The firm advised longstanding clients Advent International and Bain Capital on their original investment in Worldpay in 2010, and on a number of bolt-on acquisitions since then. The team also represented both private equity houses on the acquisition of RBS’s remaining stake in Worldpay.

A&O advised Worldpay on its prospective IPO and its admission to float, with a team led by corporate partner Duncan Bellamy alongside corporate partner David Broadley, and US securities partner Jeff Hendrickson.

Freshfields advised underwriter Goldman Sachs with capital markets partner Mark Austin leading.

Worldpay’s admission to the London Stock Exchange is expected to take place in October 2015.

Legal Business

Freshfields head of Islamic finance to leave for Morgan Lewis


Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer global head of Islamic finance Tarek El-Assra has quit the firm to join Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as a partner, as the Morgan Lewis targets the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia

The departure is Freshfields’ second exit in recent weeks after Shearman & Sterling hired its co-head of telecoms, media and technology, Frank Miller, as the latter firm bids to pull in a greater array of M&A in the City.

El-Assra joins Morgan Lewis’ Dubai office in a bid to build its cross-border Islamic finance and investment offering specifically targeting the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The hire comes as Morgan Lewis moves to bulk its international finance team with a focus on the Middle East. Ayman Khaleq, managing partner of the firm’s Dubai office and a partner in the finance and investment management practices, said: ‘Tarek will further strengthen our Gulf Cooperation Council and international transactional practices while greatly enhancing our already leading cross-border Islamic finance and investment capabilities.’

El-Assra has worked at Freshfields for the last four years, having joined from rival firm Allen & Overy (A&O) as counsel in 2011. At Freshfields, El-Assra headed the firm’s Islamic finance group and specialised in leveraged and acquisition finance, asset finance, real estate finance, trade finance, infrastructure and project finance, and restructurings.

He handled matters for clients in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and worked closely with the firm’s global finance, debt capital markets, and restructuring teams in Dubai, New York, London, Frankfurt, and Singapore.

He joined A&O in 2000 and later became a senior associate, after spending a year at Goldman Sachs’ acquisition finance group.

The move forms part of Morgan Lewis’ wider investment strategy and comes shortly after the firm recruited structured finance partner Theresa Kradjian and corporate tax partner Paul Beausang – a further two further partners from K&L Gates, adding to the three already to have made the move in July – as its expands its City securitisation offering.

Legal Business

‘A hole in the market’: Scott + Scott opens in the City with plans to exploit conflicts and cash in on competition class actions


In anticipation of a boom in competition-based disputes as the Consumer Rights Act comes into force, US firm Scott+Scott is planning to kick-start its City offering by pursuing banks found guilty of manipulating the foreign exchange market in a multi-million pound lawsuit.

The Connecticut-based litigation boutique hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer competition litigation lawyer Belinda Hollway to head up its first City office and European base, which will officially open on Chancery Lane once authorisation is granted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Hollway, who officially joined the US firm earlier this week [7 September], is already preparing the practice’s first City-based forex-case. ‘We can’t commence litigation until authorisation, but we are doing the preliminary work and setting up the office. The first case will be the forex manipulation. We are speaking to lots of businesses that were trading and suffered losses, and the number of businesses that have had exposure will be in the hundreds and thousands. This litigation is very wide-reaching,’ Hollway told Legal Business.

The class action is aimed at banks including The Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and JP Morgan, as part of follow up litigation from a recent $2bn forex antitrust settlement in the US, where Scott+Scott led a proposed class action that accused 16 banks of widespread manipulation in the $5.3trn-per-day foreign exchange rate market.

‘Most of the UK’s domestic firms [with an antitrust component] traditionally work on the defence side so there is conflict that leaves a hole in the market,’ said Hollway. ‘Scott+Scott also has the advantage of its experience in the US where we already have systems like class actions in place.’

With the Consumer Rights Act set to come into force on 1 October this year, which will make it easier for private parties, in particular SMEs and consumers, to bring actions for breach of competition law, the London market is becoming an increasingly attractive platform for antitrust-litigation focused firms.

In addition, the European Commission last year adopted the directive on antitrust damages actions aimed at helping citizens and companies claim damages if they are victims of infringements of EU antitrust rules, such as cartel behaviour or abuse of dominant market positions.

Scott+Scott managing partner David Scott (pictured) said: ‘The Consumer Rights Act is going to provide class remedy. It will go a long way towards allowing consumers that have been harmed as a result of violation in competition laws to seek redress. It will provide opportunity for those with smaller losses to get their money back and that is a good thing.’

But Scott+Scott is not the only firm eyeing up this opportunity. Specialist claimant competition shop Hausfeld & Co, which led alongside Scott+Scott in the recent US Forex class action, hired antitrust lawyer Anna Morfey, also from Freshfields, to strengthen its European practice and opened its second European office in Brussels last year with the hire of former Michelin-Europe general counsel Laurent Geelhand.

However, Hausfeld did lose competition litigation partner Boris Bronfentrinker – who also worked at Freshfields for seven years – who quit to join Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan as it launched its City-based antitrust practice last year.

Hollway added: ‘This is a very exciting time to practise competition litigation in Europe as the European Commission adopts the competition damages directive and with the consumers act coming into force in October. There is a real interest from lawyers on the defence side to move onto the claimants side.’

Legal Business

Shearman hires Freshfields head of telecoms Miller in push to broaden City M&A offering


Shearman & Sterling has hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s co-head of telecoms, media and technology, Frank Miller, as the firm bids to pull in a greater array of M&A in the City.

Miller, who also spearheads the Magic Circle firm’s efforts in Israel, is the type of hire Shearman has been looking for in London. A longstanding corporate partner with a presence in the private equity (PE) space, Miller is qualified in both US and English law, and will strengthen Shearman’s M&A offering in the City. He leaves Freshfields after 16 years, having joined in 1999 from New York-based Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and made up to partner four years later.

Having previously been lacking in senior corporate partners, European head of M&A Laurence Levy aside, Shearman’s London office has worked to build a strong offering in the past two years. Miller’s arrival comes as part of a gradual build-up of the firm’s City corporate bench, which has seen a three-partner team arrive in the middle of 2013 led by Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ PE heavyweight Mark Soundy, and, this time last year, Ben Rodham join from Addleshaw Goddard. The firm now has six mainstream corporate partners in London.

While Miller will primarily handle mainstream corporate work, having built a steady stable of clients that includes healthcare giant Colgate-Palmolive, drinks company PepsiCo and engine maker Rolls-Royce, his work for Freshfields’ PE team will also help Shearman build in that space. Having already gained momentum from becoming a preferred adviser to PE house Bridgepoint at the end of last year, Shearman will benefit from Miller’s experience advising the Magic Circle firm’s longstanding clients CVC and Cinven. He also advised Permira on its sale of Dutch animal-nutrition business Provimi to Cargill for $2.14bn in 2011, and is known for advising ketchup maker Heinz on its takeover by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian private equity firm 3G Capital in 2013.

Creighton Condon, Shearman’s senior partner commented: ‘We are delighted that Frank is coming to Shearman & Sterling, with increasing M&A activity, we envision significant opportunities in London, Europe and globally to support our clients on their critical M&A transactions.’

It is the second time in six months that Shearman has taken a corporate partner from the Magic Circle, with Clifford Chance’s Robert Masella joining the firm’s New York office in April.

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Freshfields and Cleary Gottlieb advise on Tesco’s £4bn South Korean sale


Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton have won roles advising as Tesco agrees to sell its South Korean unit Homeplus for £4.2bn, in an effort to raise funds to revitalise the business.

In its first major disposal since the supermarket giant suffered financial challenges, Tesco’s sale of its biggest overseas unit to a group of investors led by MBK Partners will produce £3.35bn in cash after tax and other costs, and is expected to complete before the end of the year.

Tesco turned to its usual Magic Circle adviser Freshfields with Asia corporate partner Simon Weller leading a team out of Hong Kong alongside Tesco relationship partner Claire Wills and corporate partner Alison Smith advising out of London. Korean firm Bae, Kim & Lee also advised Tesco on local issues.  

Cleary acted for MBK , led by Seoul corporate partner Sang Jin Han, while local Korean firm Yulchon also advised on domestic law.

Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco, said: ‘After a highly competitive process, we are announcing today the proposed sale of Homeplus, our business in the Republic of Korea. This sale realises material value for shareholders and allows us to make significant progress on our strategic priority of protecting and strengthening our balance sheet.’

Seoul-based MBK Partners led a consortium, including Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Temasek Holdings, in the sale process and is understood to have out-bid interest from investment firms Affinity Equity Partners, KKR and The Carlyle Group.

Legal Business

A&O and Freshfields win work on Bwin’s bidding battle


888 looks set to strike £900m deal

Deal lawyers took little respite over the summer as the traditional lull failed to materialise. One deal that kept teams at Magic Circle duo Allen & Overy (A&O) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer busy was the bidding battle between 888 and GVC Holdings for online gambling company Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment.

Legal Business

Deal watch: Corporate activity in July and August 2015



Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised Pearson twice over the summer. The publisher sold the Financial Times to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom client Nikkei and split its 50% stake in The Economist Group between Macfarlanes client and co-shareholder Exor, while Linklaters acted for The Economist.


Legal Business

Winning work: Freshfields takes Slaughters’ place as government cuts its stake in Lloyds


Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has stolen a march on rival Slaughter and May after winning the role representing the UK government in its latest disposal of holdings in Lloyds Banking Group.

UK Financial Investments (UKFI), which oversees the HM Treasury’s stake in Lloyds, carried out the sale with a Freshfields team led by London corporate partners Mark Austin and Julian Makin advising.

The work is a significant win for Freshfields as UKFI previously instructed Slaughters’ corporate team, led by partner Nilufer von Bismarck, when the government first sold a 6% share in the bank three years ago. This came after the government initially held around a 45% stake in Lloyds after it was bailed out with £20bn of funds following the 2008 financial crisis. Von Bismarck also acted for the government when Lloyds and The Royal Bank of Scotland took part in its asset protection scheme in 2009 which saw Lloyds raise £21bn in capital.

The sale, which brought state ownership at the bank down to less than 13%, comes after the government launched a trading plan at the end of last year and takes the total recovered to almost £14bn. 

In April this year, Lloyds group general counsel Andrew Whittaker stood down from his role after two years and was succeeded by deputy GC Kate Cheetham. More recently however, Linklaters’ managing partner Simon Davies confirmed he will retire from the Magic Circle firm at the end of 2015, a year ahead of the end of his current term, to join Lloyds Banking Group as its chief people, legal and strategy officer, and also take a place on the bank’s executive committee.