The Talent

October 10, 2008 5:45 AM

DEALMAKER OF THE WEEK: Slaughter and May's Nigel Boardman

Posted by Julie Triedman

Nigelboardman185_317320a_2Slaughter and May's Nigel Boardman probably is wishing there were more hours in the day. Over the past week, as the credit crisis gripped the U.K., Boardman, a lawyer the Times of London recently called the firm's "top dog," was on call advising the British government on a plan to rescue the country's biggest banks.

What a plan it is: an $86 billion package that is far more radical than that of U.S. Treasury secretary Henry Paulson. The U.K. plan will inject cash directly into struggling British banks in exchange for a government stake. The plan also will guarantee short- and medium-term loans between banks. The move, according to Bloomberg, is in effect a partial government nationalization of at least eight of Britain's banks. The U.S. Treasury-Federal Reserve plan proposes buying up complex distressed securities whose market has disappeared.

Boardman, 57, together with Slaughter's Nilufer Von Bismarck, handled the key negotiations between the U.K. Treasury and the banks from Tuesday night into the early morning hours of Wednesday. The lawyers hammered out the details in the offices of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, emerging with the package at roughly 5 a.m. U.K. time Wednesday.

The  deal was Boardman's first major involvement on behalf of the Treasury, though Slaughter and May has been tapped repeatedly--and more than any other firm--by the office since last September, when problems with Britain's Northern Rock bank first caused tremors in the U.K.'s financial markets. The firm also helped craft the Treasury's $72 billion nationalization of U.K. bank Bradford & Bingley this past week, and a response to the meltdown of Icelandic banks with U.K. subsidiaries, as Am Law Daily sibling publication Legal Week reported.

This U.K. bank rescue is just one more feather in Boardman's cap. The U.K. Independent once wrote that Boardman has been involved in almost every major contested takeover involving U.K. companies. Over the past eight months, he's been spearheading Slaughter's all-hands-on-deck effort advising steel conglomerate BHP Billiton Ltd. in its $122 billion hostile bid for competitor Rio Tinto Group, a deal for which he was named a "Dealmaker of the Year" in The American Lawyer's April 2008 issue. Once completed, it will be the biggest takeover ever in the mining industry.

Perhaps the past week has been business as usual for Boardman, whose average workweek reportedly is between 80 and 85 hours. Still, it's tough to imagine events more extraordinary and pressing than the ones that have gripped the world since early September. As finance ministers and government leaders from around the globe prepare to meet in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to explore solutions to the financial crisis, the U.K. proposal Boardman negotiated has taken center stage. Given the enormity and urgency of the economic chaos, Boardman's pace seems unlikely to ease up anytime soon.

Dealmaker of the Week is published every Friday in The Am Law Daily.

S&C's Mitchell Eitel, 10/3/08

Munger Tolles's Robert Denham, 9/26/08

S&C's H. Rodgin Cohen, 9/19/08

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