Corporate Team of the Year

Jones Day

At first glance, the dissolution by Value Discovery Partners (VDP) of several food and drink brands across Eastern Europe seemed like quite a straightforward deal. However, it soon emerged that underlying complexities were going to hinder VDP’s dissolution trustee Krys Global, in one of the longest running M&A deals in recent history.

For a start, water brand Borjomi had group indebtedness in excess of $250m, with several lenders bringing enforcement proceedings against the banks fearing no sale would ever be achieved. Then despite the initially successful sale of Borjomi to one of VDP’s limited partners and Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group, further complexities emerged to block the transaction.

Russian criminal and civil proceedings, as well as enforcement action in England and Serbia, stood in the way of Jones Day as it attempted to bring the sale to an end. However, the firm developed a successful litigation strategy to remove the Serbian enforcement orders, as well as proposed to merge dairy businesses Imlek and Subotica to make VDP’s other assets more attractive.

After 13 months, Jones Day led the first successful auction of VDP’s Balkan assets since they were established in 2004 and at the highest price ever offered for them. A worthy winner.

Runner up
  • Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells advised the London Metal Exchange (LME) on the creation of one of the only clearing houses based in the UK. The migration of LCH.Clearnet to the new LME Clear was complicated by the implementation of the European Market Infrastructure Directive (EMIR) that introduced new rules for the operation of clearing houses.

Owing to this, there were no other EMIR authorised central clearing counterparties in Europe to act as precedent meaning Hogan Lovells had to develop submission documents, a clearing rulebook and LME Clear’s internal governance arrangements. In testament to the firm’s work, LME has since returned to Hogan Lovells for advice on several other transactions.

Third place
  • Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

When considering the sale of the well-known NEC Group, Birmingham City Council (BCC) turned to Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co to guide it through the process. The team was tasked with ensuring the business structure was not only attractive to bidders, but that it would result in the best value for BCC. By creating a new structure of interests, Wragge made certain the property retained maximum control for BCC giving it the right to claw back certain land that may be required for HS2. The firm’s work resulted in the successful £307m sale of the NEC Group to private equity firm LDC.

  • Allen & Overy
  • Ashurst
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Osborne Clarke
  • Shearman & Sterling