UPDATE: 10/28/13, 10:00 a.m. EDT. DLA Piper, through a team of lawyers led by corporate partner Noel Haywood, are advising R. Griggs Group on its sale of Dr. Martens to Permira.
A handful of Am Law 100 firms are queuing up to the private equity pipeline to advise on several notable deals by top buyout firms.
The transactions come as many private investment firms embark on a major fundraising drive, according to a recent report by The New York Times’ DealBook.
As previously noted by The Am Law Daily, the competition for private equity M&A work remains fierce among large firms, and Am Law 100 mainstays like Latham & Watkins have recently sought to make inroads into the lucrative London market by poaching key private equity partners like Tom Evans and David Walker from Clifford Chance.
Clifford Chance’s global head of corporate, Matthew Layton, is currently in the running to succeed David Childs as its next managing partner, according to U.K. publication Legal Week, and the Magic Circle firm itself remains a go-to shop for many private equity firms as they enter or exit investments abroad.
On Thursday, London-based private equity firm Permira Advisors, whose many investments include the clothing brand Hugo Boss, announced that it would acquire British footwear firm Dr. Martens from the family-owned R. Griggs Group for $485.3 million in a deal expected to close in January.
Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom have all handled work for Permira. The latter three did not have roles on the Dr. Martens deal for Permira, and while a source says Clifford Chance snagged the work, a spokesman for the firm declined to comment on the matter.
Ian Sellars, a former head of Clifford Chance’s leveraged buyout group who is now a partner at Permira, did not respond to a request for comment about whether the private equity firm tapped Clifford Chance for counsel on its Dr. Martens buy, nor did a Permira spokeswoman.
Other former Clifford Chance lawyers at Permira include principals Ulrich Gasse and Peter Gibbs. Permira’s chief risk officer Christopher Crozier once worked at Freshfields, while Permira principal Paul Armstrong and partner Henry Chen previously served time at Fried Frank and Davis Polk & Wardwell, respectively.
Clifford Chance has been busy over the past year for Permira, advising the private equity firm on its $1 billion acquisition of Japanese sushi restaurant chain Akindo Sushiro, the $875 million sale of its last remaining stake in Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment, and its $1.6 billion buy of Ancestry.com.
In late September, sibling publication The Asian Lawyer reported on Clifford Chance advising Chinese state-backed Haitong Securities on its $715 million sale to TPG Capital, a Fort Worth–based private equity giant advised by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and China’s Fangda Partners.
Last week TPG teamed up with Montreal-based property manager Ivanhoe Cambridge for a joint venture to acquire logistics and warehouse business PointPark Properties from Atlanta-based Arcapita, an affiliate of a Bahraini investment firm that went bankrupt last year. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Legal Week reports that a cross-border team from Freshfields is counseling TPG and Ivanhoe Cambridge on their new acquisition. Magic Circle rival Linklaters, which along with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and British firm Trowers & Hamlins represented Arcapita in Chapter 11 proceedings that concluded last month, is also advising Arcapita on its sale of PointPark. Henry Thompson, a former Gibson Dunn attorney, serves as in-house head of legal for Arcapita.
The close ties between some Am Law 100 and international firms and their private equity clients are apparent in several other deals announced in recent days.
Hermosa Beach, California–based Marlin Equity Partners announced this week its $891 million acquisition of phone equipment maker and telecommunications network traffic manager Tellabs.
Sidley Austin is advising Tellabs on its going-private sale through corporate partners Thomas Cole—a former chairman of the firm—and Imad Qasim. Sidley has been a longtime legal adviser to Tellabs, handling its $1.9 billion buy of Advanced Fibre Communications in 2004 and representing Tellabs in IP litigation with Japan’s Fujitsu, which recently failed to knock out trade secrets counterclaims brought by Tellabs, according to sibling publication The Litigation Daily.
James Sheehan serves as general counsel and chief administrative officer for Naperville, Illinois–based Tellabs, a once high-flying telecom company that Bloomberg reports has lost money for 11 straight quarters. Tellabs has also been hit hard by the departure of key executives—former CEO Robert Pullen died in 2012 after battling cancer and chairman Michael Birck retired earlier this year after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Schulte Roth & Zabel M&A partner Richard Presutti is leading a team advising Marlin Equity on the Tellabs buy that includes finance partner Michael Mezzacappa, tax partner Dan Kusnetz, employee benefits partner Laurence Moss and associates Beverly Ang, Philip Cooke, Stavan Desai, Melissa Karp, Alisa Tschorke, Ji Hye You, Lane Verlenden and Watt Wanapha.
Marlin Equity tapped Schulte Roth for counsel last year on its $261 million purchase of the optical networks business of Nokia Siemens Networks. David McGovern, who began his career as an M&A lawyer at Gibson Dunn before moving into investment banking, founded Marlin Equity in 2005 and currently serves as its managing partner.
Filtration Group, a company backed by Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Capital Partners, turned to Paul Hastings private equity partner Brian Richards, tax partner Ziemowit “Jim” Smulkowski and finance partner Louis Hernandez to advise this week on its acquisition of porous polymer products maker Porex from Los Angeles–based private equity firm Aurora Capital Partners, which is being represented by Gibson Dunn.
Gerald Parsky, a former senior partner at Gibson Dunn (where he was the firm’s first outside lateral partner hire), serves as chairman of Aurora Capital. The private equity firm’s general counsel is former Gibson Dunn corporate partner Timothy Hart. The terms of Aurora Capital’s sale of Porex were not disclosed.
Kirkland & Ellis has been particularly busy on the transactional front in recent weeks, advising longtime private equity clients like KKR on its $1 billion buy of industrial product makers The Crosby Group as well as Acco Material Handling Solutions and GTCR on its $820 million sale of security and defense intelligence services firm Six3 Systems.
Last week Kirkland advised London-based private equity firm Mid Europa Partners on its roughly $1.3 billion sale of Serbian cable company SBB/Telemach Group to KKR, which Legal Week reports was advised by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Kirkland also took the lead this week for Boca Raton, Florida–based private equity firm Sun Capital Partners on its sale of infant and children’s apparel marketer Gerber Childrenswear to Providence Apparel for an undisclosed sum. (Greenberg Traurig is advising the buyer.)
Legal Week reported this week that Simpson’s long-standing ties to The Blackstone Group have loosened in Europe as the New York–based private equity behemoth looks to other U.S. firms to handle its growing pipeline of deals. This week Blackstone teamed up with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund to acquire a 57 percent stake in Goldman Sachs’ U.K. pension insurance unit Rothesay Life for an undisclosed sum.
While Blackstone’s legal advisers on that deal were not immediately available by the time of this story, Sullivan & Cromwell took the lead for Goldman through European M&A head Timothy Emmerson, financial institutions partners Michael Wiseman and Michael Escue, antitrust partner Juan Rodriguez, tax partner Michael McGowan, finance partner John O’Connor and M&A counsel Joram Lietaert Peerbolte.
Lastly, Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm based in the Rhode Island city of the same name, turned to Weil, Gotshal & Manges private equity partners Marco Compagnoni and Simon Lyell and real estate counsel Rupert Jones to advise on its $565 million acquisition of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), the U.K.–based live theater operator behind productions like “The Lion King” and “Wicked.” (Travers Smith is advising ATG, according to Legal Week.)
Weil promoted Lyell to partner this year, while Compagnoni was a high-profile lateral hire by the firm back in 2006. Roman Bejger serves as counsel and chief compliance officer for Providence Equity, which has long turned to Weil for transactional work. Weil advised Providence Equity late last year on the $210 million sale of its 7 percent stake in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, its $1.6 billion buy of education software provider Blackboard in 2011, and its $1.4 billion sale of Bresnan Communications to Cablevision in 2010.