03/09/2008

Yorkshire law firm advises global market leader in multi million pound MBO

A team from the Leeds office of law firm Gordons has advised the management of Warwick International, a global market leader in the manufacture of speciality chemicals, in a £129m buyout led by London based Close Brothers Private Equity. The deal involved £80m of debt funding from a club of four banks comprising RBS, Barclays, Lloyds TSB and HSBC.

Gordons was the only Yorkshire-based firm involved in the transaction, which also involved the Manchester offices of DLA Piper, Deloitte and Hammonds and Addleshaw Goddard, and the London office of US law firm Latham and Watkins.

Based in Mostyn, North Wales, Warwick International has two divisions, one of which manufactures bleach activators mainly for use in domestic detergents, while the other is a chemical distribution business operating in a number of European countries and the Far East. Warwick has for many years been owned by Sequa Corporation, a diverse industrial group headquartered in New York and until recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Negotiations for the deal started in early 2007 but were put on ice for a while when Sequa itself was taken over by US private equity house Carlyle.

Andrew Jordan and Andy Brian of Gordons advised the senior management team of Warwick International.

Commenting on the deal, Andrew Jordan said: “I have known Warwick’s senior management for many years and am delighted for them with this outcome. We were all reasonably confident that Sequa would sell the business, The challenge was always going to be steering the process towards a buyer who the directors really wanted to partner with, and getting the deal done in today’s tightened climate. It is a tribute to the strength of Warwick and its management team that we achieved this.”

CEO of Warwick International, Bob Ellis, said: “Gordons did an excellent job in helping to secure management’s equity share and guiding us through the private equity investment process. Their expert knowledge of the private equity market and associated legal process proved invaluable in delivering the ideal partner and financial backing for the MBO. Andrew Jordan’s in depth knowledge of Warwick’s business and close relationships with the company’s directors was greatly appreciated by both myself and the management team.”