Belgian chemical giant Solvay has turned to Davis Polk & Wardwell to help it get into the shale business through its $1.3 billion buy of Chemlogics Group, a U.S. specialty chemicals company partly owned by the private investment arm of JPMorgan Chase.
Solvay, one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers, will use its all-cash acquisition of Chemlogics to expands its offerings in the oil and gas industry, according to news reports and a press release announcing the deal Monday.
Davis Polk corporate partners William Aaronson and Jacques Naquet-Radiguet are leading a team from the firm advising Solvay that includes executive compensation partner Jeffrey Crandall, tax partner Neil Barr, antitrust counsel Michael Sohn, environmental counsel Hayden Baker, and associates David Bauer, William Curran, Darren Schweiger, and Chaoyuan Shi. (Sohn is a former chairman of Arnold & Porter who joined Davis Polk three years ago in lieu of retirement.)
Anthony Saviano, North American general counsel for Brussels-based Solvay, is leading an in-house team from the company working on its purchase of Chemlogics. Solvay’s group general counsel is Jean-Pierre Labroue, who became head of the company’s legal and compliance divisions in December 2012. Both Labroue and Saviano previously worked for Rhodia Group, a French chemicals company acquired by Solvay in a $4.8 billion deal in 2011.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised Solvay on that transaction, and the Magic Circle firm has counseled the company on several other large deals in recent years, handling the $7.1 billion sale of Solvay’s drug unit to Abbott Laboratories in 2009, as well as the divestiture of its PVC unit last year in a $5.6 billion joint venture deal with Switzerland’s Ineos.
But Davis Polk has also done work for Solvay—the firm advised on its acquisition of Societe Generale’s stake in a carbon markets joint venture with Rhodia in late 2011—and it got the coveted cross-border M&A role on the Chemlogics deal.
Paso Robles, California–based Chemlogics, a company founded in 2002 to provide specialty chemicals to the energy sector, has turned to Latham & Watkins for counsel on its proposed sale to Solvay.
David Allinson, global cochair of Latham’s private equity group, is leading a team from the firm advising Chemlogics that includes corporate partner Eli Hunt and associates Michael Shaheen and Carla Smith.
Chemlogics sold a 37 percent equity stake in 2011 to One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase. Latham as advised One Equity Partners on several notable deals, such as its $80 million acquisition of Precision Gear Holdings in 2008 and $184 million sale last year of health care services firm Apollo Health Street.
The sale of Chemlogics to Solvay should be completed by the fourth quarter of this year, pending regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.
Solvay isn’t alone in seeking a stake in the lucrative U.S. shale gas market.
Am Law 200 firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, which according to U.S. Senate records once handled lobbying work for Solvay, announced Monday the opening of an office in Pittsburgh to tap into the pipeline of legal work emanating from the Marcellus Shale formation.
The Legal Intelligencer, a sibling publication that reported a year ago this month on the firms flocking to Pennsylvania for shale work, notes that Vorys Sater’s new hires are led by partner Kevin Gormly and of counsel Melissa McCoy Gormly, both of whom merged their local firm last year with Jackson Kelly.