Ashurst LLP

The Scoop

Well known for its strong corporate focus, Ashurst operates a top-tier practice while remaining just outside of the City's Magic Circle. The firm's traditional strength lies in serving the private equity industry, where its client roster shines with names like Apax, Blackstone and Cinven. Other important sectors include energy and transport and infrastructure. The firm has a high-level reputation across a range of practices, including M&A, finance, competition and real estate.

Not so humble beginnings

Ashurst began life in 1822 as Ashurst Morris Crisp and has maintained a position near the top of the City firms for much of its lifespan. The two founding partners of Slaughter and May were trained at Ashurst. With its practice strongly focused around FTSE companies, Ashurst is regarded as operating one of the City's broadest plc practices, acting for clients like Morrisons, National Express and William Hill. A renewed focus on the investment banking sector has also brought clients such as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Nomura, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and BNP Paribas into the Ashurst fold.

Global ambitions

Ashurst opened its first office outside Britain in 1989 in Brussels. It was closely followed by outposts in Tokyo in 1990 and Paris in 1991. Over the next decade, Ashurst launched offices in Singapore, Frankfurt, Milan, Madrid and Munich. The firm established a liaison office in New Delhi in 1994, but after the Bombay High Court banned practice by foreign firms in 2009, the office was closed; Ashurst still maintains a dedicated India group and in 2011 entered into a best friends relationship with local firm Indian Law Partners. A new office was opened in Stockholm in 2007 and in 2008, Ashurst set up shop in Hong Kong, in association with Jackson Woo & Associates. That year Ashurst also opened an office in Abu Dhabi, which works closely with the firm's Dubai office. In 2011, Ashurst added an office in Rome.

Transatlantic crossings

Notwithstanding the economic climate and the impact of the credit crisis on structured finance, in early 2009 Ashurst launched itself onto American shores via the hire of a 11-partner structured finance team from US law firm McKee Nelson. The bold move gave Ashurst a presence in both New York and Washington. Since then, the firm has hired its first lateral partners in the US and launched a project finance team in New York, hoping to capitalise on a growing infrastructure market. In another major development, Ashurst announced that it will combine its Asian practice with that of Blake Dawson, one of Australia's leading law firms, in March 2012. The plan is for the two firms to merge in three years.

Ashurst's non-UK business now represents 40 per cent of total revenue. After a period of streamlining and restructuring in 2009 and 2010 that saw a number of partner exits and a flurry of lateral recruitment, the firm reported solid results for the 2010-11 financial year, with increases in both turnover and net profit.

The bigger the better

Ashurst has an impressive record of advising on some of the biggest deals around, including the $30 billion acquisition of Sual by Ashurst client Rusal in 2006, and the representation of Hoare Govett, Morgan Stanley and (pre-collapse) Lehman Brothers on Imperial Tobacco Group's £4.9 billion rights issue in 2008-one of the largest non-banking sector underwritten rights issues in the UK. The uptick in recession-related insolvencies in the first decade of the 21st century has also kept the firm busy. Ashurst advised the executive management of Countrywide, the largest residential estate agency in the UK, in its restructuring. And the firm's advice was sought by the Icelandic government with regard to the its obligations to repay the nearly €4 billion paid out by the British and Dutch governments to depositors following the collapse of the country's bank Icesave.

Recent News

Developers play the Shell game

In September 2011, Ashurst advised Edinburgh City Council on the restructuring of the Edinburgh Tram Project . In August 2011, Ashurst advised Qatari Diar on its £300 million joint venture with Canary Wharf Group for redevelopment of the Shell Centre site on London's South Bank. Under the agreement, Shell retains the freehold, while Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar each contribute £150 million to secure a 999-year lease for the site, on which will used for commercial, retail and residential space.

Tycoon takes over water company

Ashurst advised HSBC and RBC Capital Markets in connection with the £2.4 billion sale of Northumbrian Water Group to UK Water (2011) Limited in August 2011. UK Water is a consortium controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (CKI). HSBC and RBC Capital Markets acted as joint financial advisers to the consortium.

Tools of the trade

Oxford Instruments plc is a provider of high-technology tools and systems for industry and research, whose work helped in the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In June 2011, Ashurst acted for Oxford Instruments in its acquisitions of Frankfurt-based Omicron NanoTechnology for €32.4 million and the US company Omniprobe for £12.1 million, both of which companies produce tools for nanotechnology research.

It's a gas, gas, gas

In May 2011, Ashurst advised British Gas' parent company Centrica Energy, the largest natural gas supplier in the UK, on a three-year £2 billion deal under which Qatargas will deliver a major percentage of natural gas to Kent. That same month, a team of lawyers from the firm's Tokyo, London and Singapore offices advised Korean Gas Corporation (KOGAS) on its acquisition of a stake in the Gladstone Santos LNG project. The $16 billion project involves piping coal seam gas to a liquefaction plant in Queensland, Australia, and represents one of the largest, if not the largest, investment in Australia by a Korean company.

Also on the energy front, in June 2011, Ashurst advised Italian company ERG Renew SpA on a joint venture with Lukoil, Russia's largest oil company, to develop renewable energy projects in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Show us the money

In May 2011, Ashurst helped Envoy Services Limited, a worldwide e-commerce payment solutions company, in its purchase by the WorldPay Group, a global payment processing company, for $106 million.

Also in May, the firm advised JP Morgan Cazenove and Credit Suisse in connection with John Wood Group Plc's return of £1.05 billion to shareholders. Wood Group proposed to return up to £1.05 billion in cash to shareholders through a tender offer following the $2.8 billion sale of its Well Support Division to GE Energy Manufacturing. JP Morgan Cazenove and Credit Suisse provided financial advice to the board of the Wood Group.

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Ashurst LLP


Broadwalk House
5 Appold Street
London EC2A 2HA
Phone: +44 (0)20 7638 1111
www.ashurst.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Managing partner: Simon Bromwich
  • Total No. Attorneys 2011: 700

Major Office Locations

  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Washington, DC
  • New York, NY
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France
  • Munich, Germany
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Milan, Italy
  • Rome, Italy
  • Tokyo, Japan
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