From The Am Law Daily:
In the third major M&A deal out of Japan this week, private equity and investment giant KKR said Friday it has agreed to acquire Panasonic’s health care unit for $1.67 billion.
Japanese firm Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu is advising Panasonic on the transaction, which comes as the Osaka-based electronics giant moves to streamline its operations amid mounting losses. Earlier this month Panasonic stopped selling smartphones in its home country, a little more than a year after the company announced it would start manufacturing television panels in tandem with rival Sony.
KKR’s longtime outside lawyers at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett are representing the New York–based buyout shop on the transaction, which is expected to close by March 2014. KKR will own 80 percent of the health care unit, while Panasonic will retain ownership of the balance. The deal is KKR’s largest ever in Japan.
David Sneider, head of Simpson’s Tokyo office, is leading a team from the firm advising KKR that includes corporate partners Takahiro Saito and Sinead O’Shea, antitrust partner David Vann, employee benefits partner Andrea Wahlquist, East Coast IP transactional head Lori Lesser, tax partner Katharine Moir, antitrust senior counsel Michael Naughton, and associates Ellen Frye, Tamaron Greene, Makiko Harunari, Jasmine Kaufman, Noritaka Kumamoto, Sheri Nentin, Hiro Senda, Sayo Takizawa, and Jeongseok “Jay” Yu.
Former Simpson M&A partner David Sorkin was hired by KKR as its first-ever general counsel in 2007, ahead of the private equity firm’s offering to publicly list some of its shares. (The American Lawyer reported that year on Simpson’s expertise in helping private equity shops such as The Blackstone Group publicly list their shares to the dismay of some regulators.)
George Roberts, cofounder of KKR and a 1969 graduate of the University of California’s Hastings College of Law, made the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans this month with an estimated net worth of $4.4 billion, good for No. 103 in the rankings. (Stanford Law School professor and former SEC commissioner Joseph Grundfest serves as an independent director at KKR.)
Japanese firm Nishimura & Asahi, which last year advised Panasonic on a merger of semiconductor businesses with Fujitsu, is also advising KKR on its current deal with Panasonic. The Wall Street Journal reports the deal could serve as a breakthrough for private equity investors in Japan. The country has been a hotspot for cross-border M&A work this week.
Nishimura & Asahi and Jones Day are currently advising Tokyo Electron on its $29 billion all-stock merger with Santa Clara–based Applied Materials, which is being advised by Weil, Gotshal & Manges and two other firms, according to our previous reports. The tie-up between the two microchip sector suppliers is one of the largest-ever foreign takeovers of a Japanese company.
Weil and Magic Circle firms Clifford Chance and Linklaters also grabbed roles this week on Japanese building materials company Lixil’s $4.1 billion buy of German bathroom fixture maker Grohe AG.
Earlier this month, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom counseled Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceuticals on its $886 million acquisition of U.S. cancer drug maker Astex Pharmaceuticals, which is being advised by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer. Skadden is also counseling Japanese conglomerate Toray Industries on its roughly $600 million acquisition of the Zoltek Companies, a St. Louis–based carbon fiber producer that The Deal reports is being advised by Thompson Coburn.
Japan got some good news outside the M&A arena this month, as Tokyo prevailed in its bid to win the 2020 Summer Olympics, despite concerns that hosting the games might worsen the country’s debt burden.