Deal watch: Magic Circle duo lead on Vodafone’s €18.4bn buyout of Liberty Global European Assets

Deal watch: Magic Circle duo lead on Vodafone’s €18.4bn buyout of Liberty Global European Assets

Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have landed key roles on Vodafone’s €18.4bn buyout of Liberty Global European assets, as Vodafone expands its European services.

The transaction includes the acquisition of US cable giant Liberty’s Unitymedia business in Germany, as well as its UPC brand businesses across Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic, as Vodafone looks to accelerate consolidation in key markets.

Slaughter and May is advising Vodafone, with a team lead by corporate partners Roland Turnhill and Susannah Macknay, accompanied by tax partner Steven Edge, finance partner Oliver Storey and employment partner Jonathan Fenn. Jane Edwarde and Duncan Blaikie are advising on real estate and IP/IT matters respectively, and Claire Jeffs and Kerry O’Connell on competition concerns.

Magic Circle counterpart Freshfields is advising Liberty Global on the deal, in a team spearheaded by M&A partner David Sonter and IP lawyer partner David Brooks. Antitrust advice is being led by Sascha Schubert, tax advice by Peter Clements, while Jochen Ellrott is providing German corporate advice.

Freshfields’ team also includes German regulatory partners Frank Röhling and Klaus Beucher, and employment partners Alice Greenwell and Boris Dzida.

Sonter commented on the deal: ‘Telecoms consolidation around Europe has been a big thing. It’s a very fragmented market and you will continue to see more of these deals in the market.’

Latham & Watkins is advising Liberty Global on German antitrust matters, while Ropes & Gray is advising on the financing aspects of the deal in a team led by partner Jane Rogers. CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang (CMS) is advising on Hungarian and Czech legal affairs and Shearman & Sterling on the US legal aspects of the transaction.

In acquiring Unitymedia in Germany, Vodafone takes on Germany’s second-largest cable operator in what is Vodafone’s largest market. UPC Czech and UPC Hungary, meanwhile, are the largest cable operators in the respective countries, and UPC Romania the second largest cable provider there.

The deal is subject to review and approval from the European Commission, though Vodafone anticipates the purchase will be completed by the middle of 2019.