Freshfields advises as Lloyds Banking Group is re-privatised

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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has advised the government as it sold its remaining stake in Lloyds Banking Group, returning the bank to private ownership nearly a decade after it was rescued by the UK taxpayer.

London corporate partners Mark Austin and Julian Makin took the key advisory roles for UK Financial Investments (UKFI), the company set up to manage the Treasury’s shareholding in Lloyds after the bank was bailed out by the government in 2009 in a £20bn rescue.

The Treasury, which initially acquired a 43% stake in Lloyds, has been gradually reducing its shareholding in recent years.

Slaughter and May advised UKFI on its initial sell-off in September 2013, with Nilufer von Bismarck leading the team advising on the sale, which raised £3.2bn.

Freshfields also took a role on the sale, advising the underwriters with a team that included then senior partner Will Lawes, Austin and corporate finance partner Sarah Murphy.

Freshfields then won the mandate to advise the government on sales that took place from December 2014, with Austin and Makin advising as shares were drip fed into the market in two blocks, which ran from December 2014 to June 2016 and from October 2016 to May 2017.

Confirmation of the bank’s re-privatisation comes after Slaughters, Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance (CC) advised on the UK government’s sale of £11.8bn of buy-to-let mortgages, which belonged to failed lender Bradford & Bingley in March 2017.

Insurance company Prudential and investment firm Blackstone will buy the portfolio of loans, which were acquired by the government when it nationalised Bradford & Bingley in 2008.

Slaughters is advising the Treasury on the deal, with A&O advising Blackstone and CC advising Prudential.