(ME & Friends AG)
CORRECTION, 12/31/13, 11:50 a.m. EST: This article originally misspelled the name of Skadden’s Katharine Funkhouser. We regret the error.
Am Law 100 dealmakers are bringing 2013 to a close with a flourish by advising on a string of midlevel, end-of-year transactions involving well-known brands.
In one such matter, Bain Capital said Monday that it has agreed to buy a majority stake in furniture and bedding retailer Bob’s Discount Furniture from fellow private equity firms Apax Partners and KarpReilly.
While financial terms of the deal and the size of the stake being acquired were not disclosed, The Wall Street Journal reported in October that Manchester, Conn.–based Bob’s was exploring a sale that it hoped would fetch more than $350 million. Founded in 1991, Bob’s has 47 stores spread across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and is probably best known for television spots that prominently feature bearded company founder Bob Kaufman.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.
Kirkland & Ellis is advising Bain on its purchase of the Bob’s stake. Firm spokesman Tim Ragones told The Am Law Daily that the firm would not be releasing the names of attorneys from the firm who advised Bain on the Bob’s deal.
The Am Law Daily named Kirkland corporate partner Sarkis Jebejian a “Dealmaker of the Week” in May for his work advising a private equity consortium led by Bain and Golden Gate Capital on the $6.9 billion purchase of business software company BMC Software. The firm has advised Bain on a number of other large transactions, including 2012′s $1.6 billion purchase of Apex Tool Group.
Ropes & Gray, another frequent Bain adviser, is on the other side of the deal as legal counsel to Bob’s and KarpReilly. The Ropes team includes M&A partner Daniel Evans and tax partner Lee Allison, along with associates Mark Castiglia, Alyssa Kollmeyer and Anna Rozin and law clerk Daniel Barden. Ropes advised KarpReilly, SKM Equity Fund III and the Miller Ale House restaurant chain earlier this year in connection with the latter’s sale to Roark Capital Group.
It was unclear Monday whether Apax—which is part owner of ALM Media, the parent company and publisher of The Am Law Daily—relied on its own outside legal advisers for counsel on the transaction.
In a second midsize private equity deal announced this week, The Blackstone Group said Sunday it has agreed to invest $200 million in Crocs in exchange for a 13 percent stake in the Niwot, Colo.-based shoe company. Crocs, which makes a line of colorful clogs, said it expects to put the investment toward a $350 million stock repurchase planned for the first quarter of 2014. The investment will also give Blackstone two seats on the Crocs board of directors.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is representing longtime client Blackstone on the investment with a team that includes M&A partner Peter Martelli, tax partner Gary Mandel, compensation and benefits partner Greg Grogan, IP partner Lori Lesser, environmental senior counsel Adeeb Fadil and real estate counsel Krista McManus. The Simpson associates working on the deal include Anthony Vernace, who will become a partner Jan. 1, as well as Christopher Dass, Xavier Kowalski, Noreen Lavan, Brittany McCants, Zara Ohiorhenuan, Jennifer Pepin, Leah Shen and Sophie Staples.
For its part, Crocs has turned to a Perkins Coie team led by Denver-based corporate partner Jason Day. Corporate partners Kester Spindler, Garland “Sonny” Allison and Kurt Neumann are also advising, along with associates Anne DeMarco, Nicholas Ferrer, Daniele Fortier and Ned Prusse.
Finally, Greenwich, Conn.-based buyout firm Brynwood Partners announced two transactions within the past week. Brynwood said Monday that it has agreed to purchase cookie and snacks brand SnackWell’s from a subsidiary of Deerfield, Ill.–based packaged foods company Mondelez International for an undisclosed amount. Brynwood is making the purchase through Back to Nature Foods, a joint venture it formed with Mondelez last year that sells a variety of cookies, snacks and juices.
The SnackWell’s purchase comes just three days after Brynwood agreed to sell one of its snack holdings, DeMet’s Candy Company. Brynwood said Friday that Yildiz Holdings, the Turkish food and beverage company that owns the Godiva chocolate brand, has agreed to pay $221 million to acquire DeMet’s. Stamford, Conn.–based DeMet’s is known for such confections as Turtles—the chocolate-covered clumps of nuts and caramel—and Flipz chocolate-covered pretzels. The DeMet’s sale is expected to close in January; Brynwood did not disclose when it expects the SnackWell’s acquisition to close.
Stamford-based Dickstein Shapiro corporate partner Martin Clarke is advising Brynwood on both transactions. Clarke previously represented Brynwood on its 2011 purchase of certain shampoo and hairspray brands from Unilever for an undisclosed amount. He also advised Brynwood last year on its sale of energy bar maker the Balance Bar Company to NBTY. Financial terms of that deal were also not disclosed.
Dickstein Shaprio corporate partner John Flaherty, along with corporate counsel Marybeth O’Keefe, also advised on the SnackWell’s purchase, while corporate associate Seth Milligan assisted on the DeMet’s sale.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is representing the Mondelez subsidiary, Mondelez Global, on the SnackWell’s sale. Skadden’s team includes M&A partner Kimberly deBeers and tax partner David Levy, along with associates Craig Alcorn, Jonathan Ashtor, Katharine Funkhouser and Nickolas Gianou.