6 February 2020 | Firm news | Article by Gerallt Jones
Hugh James had advised professional Welsh rugby region, Cardiff Blues, on a full debt and equity restructuring. The purpose of the restructure is to make the funding of the business more financially secure for the future following changes to its senior management in 2019.
Until now Cardiff Blues’ operations had been supported financially by a number of benefactors, primarily Peter Thomas, the club’s former chairman.
Thomas has invested more than £14million into the club over the past 23 years and agreed to convert part of his loan into a non-voting class of shares as part of a restructuring of the region's board of directors as well as writing off other debts. Thomas stepped down in January 2019 but remains on the club’s board of directors.
Hugh James became an official Legal Partner of Cardiff Blues in 2019 after signing a three-year deal which involves the firm providing legal support to the region on commercial and property matters.
Hugh James has a formidable reputation in the sport sector and regularly provides legal advice to some of the UK’s top sporting institutions including long-standing clients Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the British Boxing Board of Control.
Led by partner Gerallt Jones, Hugh James’s corporate/commercial team handled the process that required the approval of the company’s 1,000+ shareholders at a specially convened general meeting. It also required approval from Cardiff Athletic Club, which has historical special shares in the company.
Hugh James negotiated the various agreements and documents required to conclude the restructuring, including a circular to shareholders. The team also advised on the requirements for calling and holding the general meeting.
Cardiff Blues Chief Executive, Richard Holland, said:
“We are immensely grateful for everything Peter Thomas has done for the club over the past 20 years. The club would not be where it is today if it was not for his lifetime commitment to the Blues and his passion for regional rugby.
“The restructure is a major milestone for us and we knew this change would need to be handled with care and sensitivity to gain the support of the club’s 1,000+ shareholders. Gerallt and the team supported us throughout the entire process and their advice was invaluable in getting us to the point where the 99% of shareholders voted in favour of the proposal.
"Our partnership with the Hugh James team is a natural fit given their credentials in the sport sector and strong rugby heritage. We are thrilled to have them as part of our team.”
Hugh James partner and head of corporate/commercial, Gerallt Jones, said:
“We were delighted to be involved in a transaction that is such a key step in securing the future financial stability of Cardiff Blues. It was a delicate and complicated transaction due to the number of shareholders involved and our team worked meticulously to make sure the process was as smooth as possible. We’re very proud to be the legal partner of Cardiff Blues and we’re looking forward to strengthening our relationship with them further over the next few years.”