Freehills advised Hastings Funds Management on the $580 million acquisition of Mid Kent Water by Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund (HDF) and Utilities Trust of Australia (UTA). Mid Kent Water provides water to 580,000 customers in the south east of England.
The transaction was the first offshore business acquisition for Hastings, which has funds to the approximate value of $3 billion under management.
Hastings was keen to take the opportunity to develop a structure for global acquisitions that could be used to make efficient and competitive bids in the future.
The transaction highlighted the strategic importance of Hastings’ relationship with its majority owner, Westpac Banking Corporation. Westpac was involved in the Mid Kent Water bidding process and provided bridge finance to HDF for its portion of the purchase price.
Freehills assisted HDF with a $110 million public issue of listed hybrid securities called TAPS to refinance the bridge loan. Freehills’ projects partner Alan Rosengarten led the acquisition team and corporate partners Robert Nicholson and Luke Gannon led the TAPS raising team. They were assisted by senior associates Simon Haddy, Joanna Taylor, Manik Meah, Tim McEwen and Amy Goble, and lawyers Joanne Draper, Nicole Arbib, Mandeep Mundae, Amanda Stallard, Anand Sundaraj, and Prasana.
Rosengarten said that “as luck would have it”, Freehills’ Josh Sgro was holidaying in Europe when the process started. “Once the skis were off he was able to be wheeled into the transaction in London.”
“It is getting easier to manage transactions like this remotely and, with a couple more trips, we were able to complete the deal without too much trouble.”