Blackstone Group may have started as a pure private equity house but has long since developed a multi-platform approach incorporating the likes of real estate, infrastructure and credit-related transactions. It is this type of global, multi-platform investor that law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is seeking to cater for through the launch of a new global financial investors group.
The new group will deliver a “fully integrated offering” to global investors including private equity funds, infrastructure funds, sovereign wealth funds and so-called “alternative capital providers”. It will be headed by Cologne-based partner Ludwig Leyendecker and London-based partner David Higgins and will have around 100 partners and 200 associates operating around the world.
“For a long time, we’ve had a strong private equity business and strong infrastructure and sovereign wealth fund connections but recently the three strands have been converging,” Higgins told Infrastructure Investor.
He refers to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which Freshfields advised on its £2.9 billion take-private of UK engineering firm Tomkins [a private equity deal] in August last year; its $3.2 billion acquisition of a minority stake in Norwegian gas transportation business Gassled alongside fellow investors Allianz Capital Partners and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority [an infrastructure deal] in June last year; and its €270 million equity investment in Centro Oberhausen, a German shopping and leisure centre alongside Stadium Group [a real estate deal] in May last year.
“To cover CPPIB you need an integrated team,” says Higgins. “We have all the private equity, real estate and infrastructure knowledge that they need. And they do deals everywhere around the world, so you need to provide that knowledge globally.”
In a statement announcing the launch of the group, Higgins claimed Freshfields was the “first global law firm to launch a bespoke group to service the unique needs of global financial investors”. The group will draw on finance, M&A and anti-trust capabilities. He added that sub-groups focusing on, for example, private equity, would remain in place and would advise the global group on best practice.
Asked about the inclusion of “alternative capital providers” as one of the new group’s target clients, Higgins said this referred to “pots of capital” that may be residing within traditional pension funds or hedge funds, for example, and which could fill a funding gap in a deal where bank finance was considered too expensive.