As The Wall Street Journal noted this week, recent reports from financial services giant Credit Suisse and Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance indicate an M&A boom may be on the horizon, though a growing appetite for cross-border deals, combined with increased regulatory enforcement, presents challenges for those eyeing mergers.
Should a boom come, it would be a boon to Am Law 100 and Global 100 firms, which continue to chase transactional work around the world in an effort to fill their coffers.
As it happens, Clifford Chance has grabbed the lead on two recent deals of note, advising Deutsche Bank on its $1.1 billion purchase from a private equity consortium of a nearly 40 percent stake in its T-Mobile affiliate in the Czech Republic, while also representing the private equity buyer that has agreed to pay nearly $300 million for Ogier Fiduciary Services (OFS), the administrative services unit of leading offshore law firm Ogier.
The names of the lead lawyers from the Magic Circle firm working on both transactions were not available by the time of this story.
Ogier, which is based in the U.K. Channel Island of Jersey, said in a press release last week that the partners in its OFS arm had agreed earlier this month to a management-led buyout backed by London-based Electra Private Equity. British firms Addleshaw Goddard and Macfarlanes are advising Ogier and OFS, respectively, on a deal that has an enterprise value of roughly $293 million. As part of the buyout, Electra will invest about $135 million in OFS, which provides trust, fund and company administration services to corporate and private clients.
Mourant Ozannes, another offshore firm, is working with Clifford Chance in counseling Electra Private Equity on the matter. Josyane Gold, a former partner at top British firm SJ Berwin, which was absorbed last year by Asian-Pacific legal giant King & Wood Mallesons, joined Electra Private Equity in September 2011 as a nonexecutive director. Gold remains a consultant to King & Wood Mallesons.
As noted by U.K. legal publication The Lawyer, many offshore firms have been shedding their fiduciary arms, with the trend beginning in 2009 when a Mourant Ozannes predecessor sold off both of its finance units. Those deals helped smooth the way for an offshore firm merger that created Mourant Ozannes in 2010, according to our previous reports.
In the second significant transaction on which it has a key role, Clifford Chance is representing Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s largest telecommunications company, in connection with its nearly $1.1 billion bid Monday to buy the T-Mobile Czech Republic stake it doesn’t already own. (T-Mobile is Deutsche Telekom’s mobile unit.)
Thomas Kremer serves as head of legal affairs and compliance for Bonn, Germany–based Deutsche Telekom. Kremer joined the company’s board in 2012 to oversee its data privacy, legal affairs and compliance functions, replacing Manfred Balz, a longtime Deutsche Telekom legal chief who joined Mayer Brown’s Frankfurt office last year as senior counsel.
Robert Irving, cohead of White & Case’s EMEA private equity practice in London and Budapest, is leading a team advising the Falcon Group on the sale of the 39.2 percent stake in T-Mobile Czech Republic to Deutsche Telekom. The Falcon Group is a consortium of investors predominantly controlled by London-based Mid Europa Partners, a private equity firm that focused on investments in Central and Eastern Europe.
Other White & Case attorneys working on the matter include corporate partners Edward Keller, Michal Smrek, Damian Beaven, Ludek Chvosta Sr. and Alena Naatz, litigation partner Jason Yardley, banking partner Rob Bennett and associates Richard Blackburn and Rebecca Zaman.
The current deal, which does not require regulatory approval, is expected to close by the end of the month.