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Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attorney Jonathan Layne got introduced to The Finish Line by the CEO of another client in 1991. Back then, it was a much smaller private company considering going public � a transaction for which it enlisted Layne. In his early days working with the company, the athletic footwear and apparel retailer was operating in about a dozen states with about 85 stores. Now it’s in 47 states, with well over 800 stores, he said. Several weeks ago, The Finish Line agreed to acquire Genesco Inc. in a deal valued at about $1.5 billion. The transaction is expected to close this fall, and is subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. “It’s quite a growth story,” Layne said. Over the years, Layne worked closely with the company, attending board meetings and learning about the management team and the products. The senior management that took the company public years ago is mostly still there, he said. Those relationships, coupled with his observations over time, helped Layne when he sat down with company leaders to discuss the deal. “We sat down and explored strategic trends in the industry and determined a transaction of this kind made a lot of sense,” he said. “It’s been fun and interesting to be part of their growth over a long period of time.” What’s interesting about this particular deal is also that the business they’re acquiring is larger than their own business � something that’s not common, Layne said. At the time of the $1.5 billion deal, Finish Line’s market cap was about $600 million. That made the transaction similar to many private equity deals in that debt financing, in part, was involved in funding the acquisition. For Finish Line, a company that doesn’t do many acquisitions, the deal was a pivotal event, Layne said, adding “This is clearly the biggest transaction they’ve ever done.” Along with Layne, a Century City partner, the deal team included Century City partner Brian Kilb; Los Angeles associates Shawn Haghighi, Shira Saiger, Candice Choh, Afshin Beyzaee, Denise Fellers, and Amber Busuttil Mullen; Century City associate Nicholas Greenwood; and Washington, D.C., associate Amy Altshul. Bass, Berry & Sims, a Tennessee-based firm, represented Genesco.

Kellie Schmitt

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