Rendering of Boeing 777x.
Rendering of Boeing 777x. (Credit: Boeing)

A little more than a month before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, Iran’s national airline inked a $16.6 billion deal with The Boeing Co. to acquire 80 airplanes to bolster its aging fleet.

Tehran-based Iran Air, the oldest airline in the Middle East, and Chicago-based Boeing unveiled the landmark transaction—the first between the U.S. and Iran in nearly 40 years—on Dec. 11. In a press release, Boeing said the company “coordinated closely with the U.S. government throughout the process leading up to the sale and continues to follow all license requirements as it moves forward to implement the sales agreement.”

Boeing general counsel J. Michael Luttig, a former potential nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, said in an email to The American Lawyer that the aviation giant’s in-house legal department took the lead in handling the transaction. Luttig, one of the nation’s top paid in-house lawyers with a compensation package valued at more than $10.6 million in 2016, declined further comment about the deal.

In a statement perhaps tailored to the ears of the U.S. president-elect, Boeing noted that the deal with Iran Air will allow it to “support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs directly associated with production and delivery of the 777-300ERs and nearly 100,000 U.S. jobs in the U.S. aerospace value stream for the full course of deliveries,” the first of which are scheduled for 2018.

Senate lobbying records show that Boeing has paid $190,000 to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld through the first three quarters of this year to advise on general tax and pension issues, while McDermott Will & Emery received $60,000 from the company until seeing its defense authorization and appropriations-based lobbying contract terminated in the second quarter.

Boeing has dozens of other non-Am Law 100 lobbyists on its payroll, including Gephardt Group Government Affairs, an advocacy shop formed by former DLA Piper senior counsel and ex-House Majority Leader Richard “Dick” Gephardt.

In other M&A news …

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. / Sky plc

London-based satellite television broadcaster Sky announced on Dec. 15 that Rupert Murdoch-owned 21st Century Fox had agreed to pay $14.6 billion to acquire the remaining 61 percent it didn’t already own in the company. The deal comes three years after the media mogul’s News Corp. agreed to split in two. It will consolidate Murdoch’s media empire across two continents, better allowing the mogul to take on upstarts like Netflix Inc. Murdoch’s previous takeover bid for Sky collapsed in 2011 after a phone-hacking crisis involving some of his U.K. newspapers.

Legal Advisers: Allen & Overy, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett for 21st Century Fox; Herbert Smith Freehills for Sky

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. / Five Beer Brands

Japanese beer giant Asahi Group struck a deal on Dec. 13 to buy five Central and Eastern European beer brands—including Dreier, Lech, Pilsner Urquell and Tyskie—from Brussels-based Anheuser-Busch InBev SA for $7.8 billion, as noted by London-based sibling publication Legal Week. The sale, expected to close in the first half of 2017, is designed to help A-B InBev get clearance from European antitrust regulators after its $106 billion takeover of SABMiller plc in October.

Legal Advisers: Allen & Overy for Asahi; Hogan Lovells and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for A-B InBev

Lonza Group AG / Capsugel Inc.

Legal Week also reported on Basel, Switzerland-based biotechnology and specialty pharmaceuticals company Lonza’s $5.5 billion purchase of Morristown, New Jersey-based drug capsule maker Capsugel on Dec. 15. The sale of Capsugel by New York-based private equity firm KKR & Co. LLP, which paid $2.38 billion for the company in 2011, to Lonza is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.

Legal Advisers: Jenner & Block, Slaughter and May, and Bär & Karrer for Lonza; Simpson Thacher for KKR

Amundi SA / Pioneer Investments

French asset management giant Amundi announced on Dec. 12 that it would acquire rival Pioneer Investments from Italy’s largest bank, UniCredit SpA, for $3.8 billion in cash. The deal, expected to close in the first half of 2017, will bring in much needed capital to the Italian bank as it attempts to comply with new banking regulations and extends the reach of Paris-based Amundi in the U.S. and Europe.

Legal Advisers: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton for Amundi; Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners for UniCredit

Golden Gate Capital LP / Neustar Inc.

A private investment group led by San Francisco-based buyout firm Golden Gate Capital has agreed to take private Neustar, an advertising technology company that offers data and analytics to marketers. The $2.9 billion deal, announced on Dec. 14, includes $1.83 billion in cash. An affiliate of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Ltd. will take a minority stake in Neustar as part of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2017.

Legal Advisers: Kirkland & Ellis for Golden Gate Capital; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Goodwin Procter and Wiley Rein for Neustar Inc.; Sidley Austin for GIC

Diamondback Energy Inc. / Brigham Resources LLC

Texas Lawyer, a sibling publication, reported last week on Midland, Texas-based oil and gas company Diamondback Energy’s $2.43 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of Austin, Texas-based Brigham Resources’ operating and midstream units. The deal, announced on Dec. 14 and expected to close in February 2017, will give Diamondback Energy nearly 80,000 acres in West Texas’ lucrative Permian Basin. Private equity firms Warburg Pincus LLC, Yorktown Partners LLC and Pine Brook Road Partners LLC back Brigham Resources.

Legal Advisers: Akin Gump for Diamondback Energy; Vinson & Elkins for Brigham Resources; Kirkland for Warburg Pincus

Gulfport Energy Corp. / Vitruvian II Woodford LLC

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy announced on Dec. 14 its purchase of 46,400 net acres in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) region from Vitruvian II, a portfolio company of Texas-based private equity firm Quantum Energy Partners LP. The $1.85 billion deal, expected to close in February, is an entry point into midcontinent production zones by the Utica Shale-play focused Gulfport.

Legal Advisers: Akin Gump for Gulfport Energy; Vinson for Vitruvian

Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. / Seventy Seven Energy Inc.

Preparing for a potential recovery in the oil markets and a return to drilling in North America, Houston-based onshore drilling company Patterson-UTI Energy announced on Dec. 12 its acquisition of Seventy Seven Energy in a $1.76 billion cash, stock and debt deal, according to Texas Lawyer. The sale of the Oklahoma City-based Seventy Seven Energy, a drilling and fracking services company that filed for and emerged from bankruptcy last summer, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

Legal Advisers: Vinson for Patterson-UTI Energy; Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz for Seventy Seven Energy

Koninklijke Phillips NV / Lumileds LLC

Dutch electronics giant Philips also announced on Dec. 12 its sale of an 80 percent stake in its San Jose, California-based automotive and LED components business, Lumileds, to New York-based buyout behemoth Apollo Global Management LLC for $1.5 billion in cash. The sale, expected to close in the first half of 2017, comes nearly a year after a U.S. national security panel blocked a more lucrative deal for Lumileds with a Chinese buyer.

Legal Advisers: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison for Apollo