Priceline.com may have tried to kill off its famous negotiator earlier this year, but popular pitchman William Shatner made a triumphant return this summer, just in time for the online travel company to pick up younger rival Kayak Software.
 
Kayak and Priceline, both of which are based in Norwalk, Connecticut, announced late Thursday their intention to merge in a $1.8 billion cash-and-stock deal. The move comes on the heels of Kayak’s initial public offering on the Nasdaq this summer that raised $91 million.
 
Bingham McCutchen corporate practice leader Michael Conza in Boston led a team from the firm that represented Kayak on its effort to go public. An SEC filing by Kayak in July states that the company incurred more than $2.5 million in legal fees and expenses related to the IPO.
 
Kayak has once again turned to Bingham for outside counsel on its proposed sale to Priceline.com. Conza and corporate partner Laurie Cerveny are leading a Bingham team advising the company that includes antitrust partners Thane Scott and Davina Garrod, tax cohead Anthony Carbone, tax and employee benefits partner Russell Isaia, securities and financial institutions litigation partner Stephen Alexander, corporate counsel Kevin Hughes, and tax and employee benefits counsel Thomas Gray.
 
Karen Klein serves as general counsel for Kayak, which was founded in 2004. ( In an interview with Inside Counsel three years ago, Klein recalled her journey to becoming the company’s top in-house lawyer, a position that allows her to work from her home in the Chicago area. Klein is also a proponent of alternative fees, according to Chicago Lawyer.)
 
For its part, Priceline.com is being advised on its acquisition of Kayak by a Sullivan & Cromwell team led by M&A partners Keith Pagnani and Brian Hamilton, antitrust partner Juan Rodriguez, executive compensation and benefits partner Matthew Friestedt and special counsel Henrik Patel, and tax head Ronald Creamer, Jr.
 
Except for Rodriguez, who works out of London, all of the lawyers working on the deal are based in New York, where S&C’s downtown Manhattan headquarters has been shuttered for the past week due to Hurricane Sandy-related flooding that has forced attorneys and staff to work out of midtown office space leased by the firm, according to sibling publication the New York Law Journal. (Creamer and a team of other S&C lawyers led by senior chairman H. Rodgin Cohen and financial institutions cohead Mitchell Eitel also represented investment bank KBW—formerly known as Keefe, Bruyette & Woods—on its $575 million sale this week to Stifel Financial Group.)
 
Priceline.com’s general counsel is Peter Millones, Jr., who has served in the role since January 2001, four years after the company was founded by noted patent litigant and Internet entrepreneur Jay Walker. Priceline.com’s current president, CEO, and chairman of the board is Jeffery Boyd, a former associate at S&C and ex-partner at New York’s Robinson & Cole.
 
According to a statement announcing the deal, Priceline.com will pay about $1.3 billion in stock and $500 million in cash for Kayak. The deal bolsters Priceline.com’s presence in the discount travel space, where rivals like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelzoo, and TripAdvisor ( an Expedia spin-off) are facing increased competition from search engines. In 2010, The Am Law Daily reported on Google’s retention of  Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for its $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, a company that specializes in the software and information technology services necessary for travelers to book flights online.
 
Justice Department antitrust regulators approved the ITA deal in April 2011, and now Google faces the prospect of two key rivals consolidating in Priceline.com and Kayak. The merger between both companies is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.