A trio of Am Law 100 firms are advising on the $1.1 billion sale of Internet Brands—owner of websites like ApartmentRatings.com, CarsDirect.com and Lawyers.com—to private equity giant KKR.
The New York-based buyout shop confirmed Tuesday its purchase of the El Segundo, Calif.-based new media company from private equity rivals Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity. The deal comes three months after the completion of a joint venture deal between Internet Brands’ Lawyers.com business and LexisNexis’ Martindale-Hubbell unit to deliver marketing services for lawyers.
That joint venture led Internet Brands to eliminate 205 jobs linked to Lawyers.com, according to a report last October by sibling publication Law Technology News. Internet Brands has acquired a handful of legal properties over the years, including the purchase of AllLaw.com and AttorneyLocate.com from attorney-entrepreneur Arvind Raichur in late 2010.
Founded in 1998, Internet Brands itself was sold for $640 million in 2010 to private equity firms Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity. The deal came three years after Internet Brands raised a mere $48 million through an initial public offering that yielded more than $1.4 million in legal fees and expenses, according to an SEC filing at the time.
Munger Tolles & Olson corporate partners Robert Knauss and Mark Kim handled that IPO for Internet Brands, and the firm subsequently advised the company’s on its going-private sale in 2010. (Knauss left Munger Tolles late last year to become general counsel of private equity firm Warburg Pincus.)
Munger Tolles, which last week snagged a lead role advising Beats Electronics on its $3 billion sale to Apple, is currently serving as cocounsel to Internet Brands with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett on the company’s sale to KKR. Corporate partners Katherine Ku and Mary Ann Todd are leading a Munger Tolles team working on the matter for Internet Brands, whose general counsel is B. Lynn Walsh.
Simpson, which advised Hellman & Friedman on its $640 million purchase of Internet Brands back in 2010, is advising the private equity sellers and its portfolio company on the deal with KKR. Richard Capelouto, head of Simpson’s Palo Alto office and a member of the firm’s executive committee, is leading a team working on the matter that includes tax partner Katharine Moir, antitrust partner Peter Thomas and associates Dena Acevedo, Ellen Frye, Jacob Mayers, Brian Osimiri and Jason Vollbracht. Stikeman Elliott is serving as Canadian counsel to KKR.
Arrie Park serves as managing director and general counsel for San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman, which has tapped Simpson for several major deals over the years. (Former Goodwin Procter partner Kathy Fields joined JMI Equity as its general counsel last year.)
Simpson has also served as longtime counsel for KKR, but the buyout shop relied on Latham & Watkins for the Internet Brands deal. As noted in a 2005 feature story by The American Lawyer, Latham’s deep ties to KKR were one factor that helped it successfully expand beyond its hometown of Los Angeles.
Edward “Ted” Sonnenschein Jr., a veteran corporate partner in Latham’s New York office, and M&A partners David Kurzweil and Stephen Amdur, tax partner Laurence Stein, employee benefits partner Bradd Williamson, IP partner Jeffrey Tochner, finance partner Jeffrey Chenard and antitrust partner Hanno Kaiser are leading a team from the firm advising KKR on its Internet Brands acquisition.
The Am Law Daily reported earlier this year on Latham’s role handling KKR’s $2.3 billion purchase of insurance claims processor Sedgwick Claims Management Services from Hellman & Friedman, which turned to Simpson for counsel on that deal.