The first quarter of 2014 was a big one for U.S. M&A deals, with the number of billion-dollar transactions reaching new heights, according to data analyzed by Dealogic and accounting giant Ernst & Young. And now European M&A could be on the rebound as well, as indicated in a recent report by Bloomberg.
This week Germany has been a hotspot for high-end transactional work, with Düsseldorf-based conglomerate GEA Group unveiling an agreement Wednesday to sell its heat exchanger business to Frankfurt-based private equity firm Triton Partners in a deal valuing the unit at roughly $1.8 billion and Stuttgart-based auto giant Daimler announcing a $3.36 billion deal to cash out of a power systems joint venture with Rolls-Royce Holdings. This follows Clifford Chance and Weil, Gotshal & Manges nabbing roles on Symrise’s $1.8 billion buy of French food ingredient maker Diana from private equity firm Ardian, according to our previous reports.
German legal publication Juve reports that Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer—formed in 2000 via a merger involving London-based Freshfields and two leading German firms—has landed the lead roles advising Daimler and Triton on their respective transactions. Anselm Raddatz, cohead of Freshfields’ global energy and natural resources group in Düsseldorf, is leading a team from his firm advising Triton that includes antitrust partner Burkhard Richter, tax partner Georg Roderburg, environmental and regulatory counsel Hans-Jörg Schulze and associates Claudia Jehle, Julia Schütt and Tobias Timmann.
Gernot Wagner, head of Allen & Overy’s U.S. law group in Frankfurt, is also advising Triton along with banking and finance partners James Graham, Thomas Neubaum, Pierre Schleimer and James Taylor, as well as tax partner Jean Schaffner. Allen & Overy, which is serving as U.S. finance counsel to Triton, has previously handled work for the private equity firm.
The Am Law Daily, which recently looked at the global firms grabbing roles on a string of billion-dollar European M&A deals, reported earlier this month on Freshfields’ role advising French manufacturer Alstom on its $1.1 billion sale of a steam components and thermal power unit to a Triton affiliate. Triton, whose general counsel is Thomas Sonnenberg, has also previously turned to Freshfields for deal work, such as its $1 billion purchase last year of an industrial waste unit from Spain’s Abengoa. (Freshfields also represented Triton in 2011 on its unsuccessful bid for German industrial conglomerate Evonik Industries’ carbon black business.)
A team of lawyers from Latham & Watkins are advising on the financing for GEA’s heat exchangers divestiture, which is expected to close by year’s end. Juve reports that GEA is being by advised by deputy chief legal counsel Martin Rothfuchs, top German firm Hengeler Mueller and Düsseldorf’s Hoffmann Liebs Fritsch & Partner on the sale of the division to Triton. Bloomberg reports that GEA is selling the business to refocus its operations on its food-processing equipment. (Stephan Petri, a former group general counsel at GEA, joined the German company’s supervisory board in 2012.)
Hengeler Mueller is also advising engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce on its agreement to purchase the remaining 50 percent stake it doesn’t already own in Rolls-Royce Power Systems from Daimler at a $3.36 billion valuation, according to The Deal. The two companies formed the joint venture three years ago after their $4.4 billion acquisition of German diesel engine maker Tognum.
Rolls-Royce turned to Hengeler Mueller and Freshfields took the lead for Daimler on that transaction, according to our previous reports, while Latham & Watkins advised Friedrichshafen, Germany–based Tognum. Earlier this year Tognum’s former U.S. affiliate changed its name to MTU America, whose general counsel is Chris Koch.
U.S. Senate records show that Tognum paid Blank Rome Government Relations $20,000 last year to lobby on issues related to federal government contracting and another $120,000 for its efforts in 2012. Hogan Lovells was paid $70,000 in 2012 to advise Tognum on “duty suspension legislation.” Both lobbying contracts have since been terminated following Tognum’s absorption by Daimler and Rolls-Royce.
Former Hogan Lovells partner Nigel Goldsworthy joined Rolls-Royce in 2004 and now serves as the London-based company’s corporate secretary and head of legal. Rolls-Royce hired Robert Webb, a former legal chief for British Airways, to be its general counsel in 2012. Under its current agreement with Daimler, Rolls-Royce will take full control of the power systems unit formerly known as Tognum should the deal receive regulatory approval within the next five months.
A Freshfields spokesman confirmed that the Magic Circle firm was advising Daimler on its latest deal with Rolls-Royce through corporate partners Ferdinand Fromholzer, Andreas Fabritius and Prichard Jones. Juve reported in March that Daimler is being advised internally by Holger Jahn and Björn Lüssow. Daimler hired Renata Jungo Brüngger as its general counsel in 2011.