To complete the largest private land sale in American history, born-and-bred New Yorker Jeffrey Rosen had to step out of his element. The Debevoise & Plimpton partner has plenty of M&A experience — his resume includes handling General Electric Co.’s 2003 acquisition of Vivendi Universal Entertainment — but he had no experience with timber deals. And what a timber deal this was — a complex amalgamation of investors paying $6.6 billion to Memphis, Tenn.-based International Paper Co. for 5.7 million acres of timberland across 17 states.

  • Dealmakers: Real Estate
  • “There were 60,000 parcels [of land], and if you spend 500 bucks a parcel on diligence, you just spent $30 million,” says Rosen, 57, who closed the landmark deal without setting foot in a forest. “I don’t think you could have surveyed everything without using all the surveyors in the United States for years,” he says. “So just the logistics of figuring out what was there, what its legal description and title history was, was a nightmare.”

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