Friday, 31 August 2018

Deal watch: Slaughters leads on Wonga collapse and joins Skadden, Ashurst and CC on £3.9bn Costa deal

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Deal watch: Slaughters leads on Wonga collapse and joins Skadden, Ashurst and CC on £3.9bn Costa deal

Slaughter and May has landed key roles on the high-profile collapse of payday lender Wonga and Coca-Cola’s £3.9bn acquisition of national coffee house Costa, joined by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Clifford Chance (CC) and Ashurst.

The demise of Wonga, the UK’s largest payday lender, was confirmed yesterday (30 August) amidst a flood of compensation claims as the government cranks up the pressure on companies offering high-cost, short-term loans.

Wonga’s overseas businesses will continue to trade, while the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) supervises Wonga in seeking fair treatment of customers. The UK business is not accepting any new loan applications.

Slaughters is advising the company with a team consisting of head of corporate, Andy Ryde, and restructuring and insolvency partners Ian Johnson and Tom Vickers. The Magic Circle firm is also expected to advise the administrators, Grant Thornton.

‘It’s still the very early stages,’ Johnson told Legal Business. ‘I think in this case it’s business-specific issues: they had a number of legacy issues which have led us to where we are now.’

Elsewhere, Slaughters also has a key role in Coca-Cola’s acquisition of the largest coffee company in the UK, Costa. Upon completion, Coca-Cola will acquire nearly 4,000 Costa outlets across the country as it expands its coffee portfolio, which already includes the Georgia brand in Japan among others globally.

Slaughters advised Costa’s owner Whitbread, a long-standing client of the firm. Its team includes corporate partners Martin Hattrell and Simon Nicholls, IP partner Duncan Blaikie, tax partner Mike Lane, real estate partner Jane Edwarde, pensions and employment partners Jonathan Fenn and Phil Linnard, competition partner Anna Lyle-Smythe and finance partner Matthew Tobin.

CC partners Robert Crothers and Gareth Camp advised Coca-Cola on the corporate elements of the deal. Skadden, meanwhile, fielded a team led by London-based tax partner Alex Jupp, with assistance from New York partners David Rievman and Chase Wink, in advising Coca-Cola on the tax aspects of the deal.

Coca-Cola president and chief executive James Quincey commented: ‘Hot beverages is one of the few segments of the total beverage landscape where Coca-Cola does not have a global brand. Costa gives us access to this market with a strong coffee platform.’

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk