Ward Hadaway advises on $255m international deal | 19 May 11

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has advised on a $255m international deal involving two of the world’s leading food commodities companies.

Corporate experts from Ward Hadaway advised German food giant Sudzucker on the acquisition of a substantial stake in British commodities trading company ED&F Man.

The $255m deal sees Sudzucker acquire 25% minus one share in London-based ED&F Man, a global provider of agricultural commodities such as coffee and molasses, and the world’s second largest sugar dealer.

Sudzucker, which is based in Mannheim in the west of Germany, is itself the global market leader in the traditional sugar business with 29 sugar factories and three refineries located across Europe.

The ED&F Man deal enables Sudzucker to access ED&F Man’s global trading network and provides a platform for further expanding its own business outside Europe.

For the UK company, the $255m deal strengthens ED&F Man’s capital base, improves its growth prospects and enables it to seize opportunities in the rapidly changing commodities markets.

A Sudzucker spokesman said: “Both partners see the transaction as a basis for greater cooperation.

“Südzucker will bring to the table its industrial expertise and ED&F Man’s contribution will be its global position also outside the sugar business, with corresponding international contacts.

“Synergies will arise, especially in the areas of sugar production and refining, raw sugar procurement, logistics optimization as well as animal feed sales and distribution.”

The transaction is one of the larger deals to be handled this year by Ward Hadaway, which has offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester.

Ward Hadaway's international corporate finance team

International deal – Ward Hadaway’s specialist team, part of the firm's substantial Corporate Finance department (standing, from left) Natalie Bennett, Mike Spetch, Robert Thompson, Tom Pollard and (seated) new recruit Charlie Fielding.

Mike Spetch, partner in the corporate department at Ward Hadaway, led the firm’s team on the $255m deal.

Mike said: “We are delighted to have advised Sudzucker on this very important deal for the group.

“The transaction opens up a wide range of new markets across the world for Sudzucker and its products and represents a significant investment by the group.”

As well as Ward Hadaway’s corporate team, the firm also called on specialists from its commercial, tax, employment and competition teams to work on the transaction, as well as using lawyers in Belgium, Italy, Brazil, Mexico and Chile.

Mike Spetch explained: “The size of the deal and its international nature meant we needed to call on the specialist expertise of our colleagues in Ward Hadaway, all of whom did a terrific job to ensure the deal progressed smoothly.

“The fact that we were chosen by Sudzucker to advise on such a significant transaction is a real seal of approval for the quality of the work which we as a firm can do and demonstrates we can really deliver on the international stage.”

Sudzucker employs 17,700 people across the world in four main divisions: sugar, special products, bioethanol unit CropEnergies and fruit.

The group generated total revenues of 6.2bn Euro and operating profits of 519m Euro in the year to the end of February 2011.

ED&F Man, which can trace its origins back to 1783, employs 4,500 people in over 65 countries and last year handled about 8.5m tonnes of sugar.

Ward Hadaway’s corporate department has an impressive track record when it comes to cross-border deals.

Earlier this year the firm advised Newcastle-based Aesica Pharmaceuticals on the acquisition of three manufacturing sites in Germany and Italy from Belgian biopharma company UCB.

The transaction was Aesica’s first acquisition outside the UK and doubled the size of the fast-growing pharmaceutical company overnight.

The specialist Ward Hadaway team within the firm's Corporate Finance department working on the Sudzucker deal recently recruited Charlie Fielding as an Associate after six and a half years working for Eversheds, initially in Manchester and then in London.