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MISSED OUT ON HP’S VOODOO DEAL? BLAME CANADA Hewlett-Packard Co. passed over its stable of California outside counsel and instead used a Canadian law firm to shepherd its acquisition of Calgary, Alberta-based Voodoo Computers, a high-end PC maker popular with gamers. It makes sense to hire a local firm with expertise in the region where you’re working, said HP senior counsel Jeffrey Groulx. “They would be well equipped to handle matters when local laws apply,” he said. HP uses its own mergers and acquisitions team in house, and hires additional outside counsel based on the particulars of the deal at hand. For example, in its $4.5 billion acquisition of Mercury Interactive Corp., HP worked with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. That law firm has played a central role in advising HP in the company’s recent boardroom leaking scandal. But in recent weeks, Wilson has been replaced as lead counsel to represent the company in the state attorney general’s criminal investigation, as well as in a federal probe. None of the lawyers involved in the Voodoo deal would comment about that aspect of HP’s business. But HP hasn’t always used Wilson Sonsini for its deals; Cleary Gottlieb represented the company in its acquisition of Peregrine Systems via a $425 million cash merger last year. “Whether to use outside counsel and which to use vary based on the specific transaction,” Groulx said. Neither Cleary Gottlieb nor Wilson Sonsini have offices in Canada. The deal is expected to close by November, and though its value was not disclosed, the Wall Street Journal estimated Voodoo has revenues of over $115 million a year. In his blog, Voodoo president Rahul Sood praised HP for its innovation, and Chairman Mark Hurd for his efforts to improve operational efficiency. “For me, getting a ticket into HP Labs would be like Charlie getting a ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory,” he wrote. “Yes, HP is the company that both my brother and I agreed is the perfect match for Voodoo.” Voodoo worked with attorneys at Canada’s Fraser Milner Casgrain in a team led by Calgary partner Miles Pittman. On the in-house side, the HP team was led by Groulx, senior counsel in the corporate, securities and M&A section, and Georgia Sievwright, the vice president of law and government affairs for HP Canada. HP worked with 640-lawyer Borden Ladner Gervais in a team led by Toronto partner Gordon Raman.

Kellie Schmitt

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