(photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty)
A pair of beer industry deals are getting the fourth quarter started for a trio of Am Law 100 firms.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and investment bank Moelis & Co.—the new home of attorney and former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor—are representing Dutch beer giant Heineken on the $1.23 billion sale this week of its Mexican packaging unit Empaque to Philadelphia-based Crown Holdings.
Steven Shoemate, cochair of Gibson Dunn’s national private equity practice and partner-in-charge of the firm’s New York office, is counseling Heineken on the deal along with associates Daniel Angel, Saee Muzumdar, Emily Throop and Danielle Villoch.
The firm is no stranger to Amsterdam-based green bottled brewer. Heineken has been a longtime Gibson Dunn client, turning to the firm for counsel four years ago on its $7.6 billion buy of Mexican brewer Femsa, owner of brands like Dos Equis, Indio, Sol and Tecate, and the initial owner of Empaque. Stephan Haimo, a former Gibson Dunn corporate partner who left the firm for the private equity world two years ago, told The Am Law Daily in 2010 that he handled Heineken’s first major North American acquisition in 1991.
Gibson Dunn also had a role advising Heineken on the financing two years ago of its $4.6 billion bid to buy out joint venture partner Fraser & Neave to take full control of Asia Pacific Breweries. (Duane Morris’ Singapore affiliate took the lead transactional role for Heineken on that deal, which The American Lawyer honored as its Global M&A Deal of the Year for Southeast Asia in 2013.)
Julie Kinch serves as general counsel for Heineken USA, the North American unit of the world’s third-largest brewer. Heineken, whose journey to U.S. shores was once featured on AMC’s “Mad Men,” is using the sale of Empaque to enhance its financial flexibility as the company focuses on marketing 170 different beer brands.
As for Crown, the consumer goods and food packaging company has once again turned to longtime counsel Dechert to advise on its acquisition of Empaque. Corporate partners William Lawlor and Ian Hartman in Philadelphia and associates Cody Cowper and Adam Rosenthal are leading a Philadelphia-based team from the firm working for Crown on the transaction. (Lawlor also serves as head of Dechert’s global corporate governance group.)
Last year Dechert represented Crown on its $1.64 billion purchase of Spanish food can manufacturer Mivisa Envases from private equity giant The Blackstone Group. Retired Dechert partner Thomas Ralph serves as the presiding independent director of the board at Crown. William Gallagher is the company’s general counsel.
In other sudsy transactional news, New York-based private equity firm The Riverside Company tapped Jones Day to advise on its acquisition of Salt Lake City-based Uinta Brewery for an undisclosed sum. Joseph Hatina, a private equity and M&A partner at Jones Day in Cleveland who previously advised Riverside on its sale of Align Networks last year, took the lead for the private equity firm on its latest deal. Riverside’s chief compliance officer Jennifer Boyce is a former Jones Day partner.
Representing Uinta, which The Wall Street Journal notes is named after the Utah mountain range of the same name despite the state’s historically antialcohol leanings, is Liane Heggy, a tax partner with Fortis Law Partners in Denver. (Fortis Law, a 16-lawyer general practice shop, almost doubled in size after a May 1 merger.) Uinta specializes in craft beers like Cutthroat Pale Ale, Detour Double IPA and Golden Spike Hefeweizen.
Beer industry deals, both big and small, have helped many a deal lawyer slake their transactional thirst in 2014. Hogan Lovells and Davis Polk & Wardwell helped SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer, sell a 39.6 percent stake in a South African hotel and casino group for $1.1 billion in July.
Earlier this year, Sullivan & Cromwell advised Anheuscher-Busch InBev on its $5.8 billion buy of South Korea’s Oriental Brewery from private equity owners Affinity Equity Partners and KKR, which turned to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett for counsel on the matter. And Patchogue, N.Y.-based microbrewery Blue Point Brewing Company turned to Long Island’s Ettelman & Hochheiser for counsel in February on its $24 million sale to Anheuser-Busch InBev.