30 Nov, 2012

Jersey based lawyers working for leading international financial law firm Walkers have advised Drax Group plc (‘Drax’) in a share placing to raise £190 million. Drax, which operates the UK’s largest power station, plans to use the proceeds to support a project to convert three of its generating units at its plant in Selby, North Yorkshire, to burn biomass, or plant matter, instead of coal. The share placing is the latest in a string of debt and equity transactions to support the £650 million to £700 million project. The £190 million was raised by the issuance of new shares representing approximately 9.99 per cent of Drax’s share capital.


The latest equity issue saw Walkers advise on aspects of Jersey law associated with the transaction, which used a Jersey ‘cash box’ structure.


The placing was announced on 25 October 2012, with Deutsche Bank AG, London branch and UBS Limited appointed as joint lead managers and joint bookrunners in relation to the placing. This involvement followed that of the Walkers Jersey team in providing legal advice in relation to a £100 million term loan facility extended by The Prudential / M&G UK Companies Fund to Drax in July 2012. 


The Walkers team advising on both transactions included Jonathan Heaney (Partner), Alex Carus (Partner) and Mark Crichton (Associate). The Firm’s Jersey office has also been instructed to provide legal advice in respect of the next steps in the project, being a proposed refinancing of Drax’s £310 million revolving credit facility, involving the increase of its size to £400 million and the extension of its maturity date to April 2016, as well as the addition of further new debt facilities of approximately £100 million.


Alex Carus, partner with Walkers’ Jersey office said: “We were delighted to be able to assist Drax again, this time by providing Jersey legal advice for the placing, and working closely with its lead counsel, Slaughter and May. This transaction was done to a very tight timeline. It was literally just a couple of days between receiving the first draft of the placing agreement and related documents and getting the go ahead to incorporate the Jersey cash box company through to the execution of those documents and the announcement of the proposed placing.”


Simmons & Simmons provided English legal advice to the joint lead managers.


Jonathan Heaney (pictured), partner with Walkers’ Jersey office said: “The ability of our Jersey based lawyers to deliver advice across multiple jurisdictions is something that instructing counsel and the client have found extremely useful in the context of our on-going role here assisting with the financing for Drax.”


Dorothy Thompson, Chief Executive of Drax said: “This is a hugely exciting time for Drax and our shareholders. We now have the mandate, means and expertise to become a large renewable electricity generator.  We will do this by transforming the largest coal plant in the UK into a power plant fuelled predominantly with sustainable biomass. The placing is one of the key building blocks in this transformation.

Ms Thompson added: “The benefits are multiple – securing jobs at Drax and across the UK in the supply chain, providing reliable cost effective renewable power for the consumer in line with Government’s policy and with our confident belief that this will deliver attractive returns for our shareholders when the transformation is complete.”

Walkers worked together on the transaction with Vistra (Jersey) Limited (who dealt with the incorporation on a fast track basis of the Jersey company and were appointed as its company secretary).

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