Stephenson Harwood takes role on Monarch administration with Freshfields and Kirkland

Stephenson Harwood is advising alongside Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Kirkland & Ellis on the administration of budget airline Monarch.

The City firm is acting for the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), reprising a role it has played during previous restructurings of Monarch’s business .

The role adds Stephenson Harwood to a line-up of legal advisers that already includes Freshfields and Kirkland.

The magic circle firm is advising KPMG, where partners Blair Nimmo, Jim Tucker and Mike Pink were appointed joint administrators at 4am yesterday (2 October). Freshfields’ team is being led by global head of restructuring Ken Baird and finance partner Catherine Balmond.

Kirkland’s London restructuring group, meanwhile, is advising the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on financing proposals put forward by Monarch as it charters more than 30 aircraft to repatriate some 110,000 Monarch customers stranded overseas following the UK’s largest-ever airline collapse.

Kirkland has advised the CAA on a number of occasions in the past, while Freshfields has previously acted for Monarch on several past attempts to stabilise the business through financial restructurings.

Reed Smith is also advising the CAA on licensing and contingency planning. Litigation partner Richard Spafford is advising on licensing and regulatory issues, while restructuring partner Charlotte Moller is advising on insolvency law and contingency planning for the repatriation.

Last October, Freshfields led for Monarch when it secured the largest investment in its then 48-year history from majority shareholder Greybull Capital, in a deal that enabled it to renew its licence from the CAA for 12 months and which was intended to fund future growth plans.

The magic circle firm had previously advised Monarch during a 2014 restructuring that generated roles for a host of law firms, with finance partner Adam Gallagher advising on both occasions. As part of that restructuring Stephenson Harwood advised the PPF on the pension deficit restructuring.

In a statement, KPMG administrator Nimmo said: “Mounting cost pressures and increasingly competitive market conditions in the European short-haul market have contributed to the Monarch Group experiencing a sustained period of trading losses. This has resulted in management appointing us as administrators in the early hours of this morning.

“Our primary focus for the next 48 hours is to work with the Civil Aviation Authority to provide the infrastructure and information needed to help the government and CAA with the safe repatriation of all the approximately 110,000 customers who are currently overseas and due to travel back to the UK within the next two weeks.”

Monarch had a capacity of more than six million seats and operated tours used by in excess of 200,000 passengers per year. The Luton-headquartered company employs about 2,100 people.