Working In BLS: The Real Estate Deal

A client of our national Real Estate team instructed us to work on a £250 million deal for the acquisition of seven large shopping centres.

The client is one of the largest US private equity funds, with a highly active role in the UK market. They were acquiring the shopping centres in conjunction with Ellandi LLP, and specified a tight, four week deadline.

The acquisition required careful management throughout. The approach taken on due diligence was especially thorough, which required a review of the titles of the shopping centres as well as between 30 and 40 leases per centre.

In order to meet the client’s demanding timescales, the regional Real Estate teams in London, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham joined forces. The work was distributed among the offices according to where specialised knowledge was held, meaning that each team was playing to their strengths.

Due to the amount of work involved, the trainee solicitors involved with the case gained a lot of hands-on experience with solicitors across the country.

We also liaised closely with lawyers in Jersey, Luxembourg and Scotland, as well as the client and their other advisers.

Despite the challenges presented, our combined national Real Estate team was able to complete the deal for our client in December 2014 – within the agreed timescale.

Partner Perspective:

John Flathers (Partner, Real Estate)

"The cross-office collaboration required for this project meant there was a key role for the BLS trainees to play.

"They really were the glue that held the team together, liaising on project management issues, providing valuable input on the best way to manage the deal and keeping in regular contact with each other to ensure a consistent approach was taken across all the offices to the issues we faced. We most certainly could not have done it without them."

Trainee Perspective:

Nicola Bell (Solicitor)

"As a first seat trainee, this project gave me the opportunity to hit the ground running and the experience I gained was invaluable. The size of the team meant I was able to work with a wide variety of fee earners in London and our other offices.

"I was given lots of responsibility for different aspects of the deal, such as co-ordinating the production of lease reports, managing the Conditions Precedent schedule, circulating updated agendas and arranging and participating in regular progress calls with the client. I also liaised directly with trainees and lawyers at the other city firms involved.

"I really enjoyed watching the deal come together and particularly valued the project management aspect of my role, as it allowed me to gain a better understanding of how the different parts of a transaction fit together."

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