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Charles Russell advises on takeover of London Irish Rugby Club by a consortium of Irish businessmen

3 April 2014

This article was written prior to the formation of Charles Russell Speechlys, through the merger between Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham.

Charles Russell advised on the successful acquisition of London Irish by a consortium of Irish businessmen led by Mick Crossan, executive chairman of the club’s primary sponsor Powerday.

The consortium initially purchased circa 52% of the equity of London Irish Holdings Ltd and have made a mandatory rule 9 offer under the Takeover Code to purchase the remaining shares held by some 800 shareholders.

The transaction was complicated by the fact that the club is mid-way through the process of moving from its existing premises in Sunbury to a new training facility which is under construction at Hazelwood and by the need to amend the company’s existing banking arrangements with AIB.

The new funds available as a result of the takeover have already enabled the club to confirm the signing of South African World Cup winner CJ Van der Linde. Longer term, the new owners aim to maximise home grown talent, pledging to re-invigorate the academy in his quest to make the club a world-renowned name in the world of Rugby.

Speaking of the deal, Mark Bensted, Managing Director of Powerday Plc commented "We were delighted with the work done by Charles Russell and it was refreshing to have the support and advice of a law firm that felt part of the team and understood our objectives and priorities. We look forward to working with Charles Russell on future projects".

The team working on the acquisition was led by Corporate Partner Geoffrey Sparks and included Adam Carling, Simon Johnson, Andy Williams, Claire Timmings, Jonathan Steele, Patricia Nathan-Amissah, Karen Slack, Viv Holyoake, Samuel Milne and Stuart Fee.

Joint Head of Sports group, Ian Lynam, stated "We are extremely pleased for both Mick Crossan and the club whose future now looks bright. It is particularly rewarding to have the client recognise the value of our sector expertise in getting this deal over the line."

Charles Russell is one of the UK's leading sports law practices. Its other clients in rugby include Premiership Rugby, the RFU and the WRU. Outside rugby its clients include Nike, The FA, the BHA, Paddy Power and many leading footballers.