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News - 06 August 2012

Reed Smith banking partners Phillip Slater and Lucy Newcomb have won the firm a new client by securing a role opposite Linklaters on the Co-operative Group’s £950m debt refinancing.

The finance duo advised the British retail business on a new finance package that will, according to the US firm, enable it to continue developing its trading operation.

The new financing arrangements amount to up to £950m, with pre-agreed capacity to increase to £1bn.

Slater led Reed Smith’s London banking and finance team on the transaction, supported by Newcomb and associates Nick Williams, Ben Wulwik and Anita Gin. European tax head Caspar Fox advised on tax aspects.

A Linklaters team led by banking partner Jeremy Stokeld advised the banks alongside associates Shirley Chung and Daniel Bhalla. The bank group comprised joint mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners Barclays Bank, Handelsbanken Capital Markets, Svenska Handelsbanken, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS); joint mandated lead arranger, the Co-op; and the lead arranger, Governor and Company of Bank of Ireland.

Background to the deal:

Slater and Newcomb joined Reed Smith from Addleshaws in November 2009 to head the US firm’s London general finance practice. They both worked with Co-op on its £1.57bn acquisition of Somerfield while at Addleshaws in 2008.Slater led the debt finance on the deal supported by Newcomb, with the company returning to the duo for the latest deal.

This is not the first time that Slater has secured a new client for Reed Smith. In February 2010 he led advice to TelecityGroup on its £200m refinancing, with Slater already possessing a longstanding relationship with the company.

Slater said in a statement: “This represents a great follow-up to the banking work Lucy and I undertook for the Co-op in 2008 at the time of the Somerfield acquisition.”

Firms on the Co-op’s legal panel include Addleshaws, Pinsent Masons and TLT. The company went off-panel for the latest deal.

Clifford Chance and Linklaters have recently taken lead roles on an agreement that will see Lloyds Banking Group offload 632 of its branches to the Co-op.