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Deal Watch: International elite flock to $3.3bn Linde disposal as Paul Hastings hire secures 2nd deal for PE client

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters are leading on Linde’s $3.3bn Americas disposals, bringing the German gas group a step closer to its $83bn combination with Praxair.

The deal sees Freshfields advise a consortium of Messer Group, the German industrial gas manufacturer, and private equity house CVC Capital Partners as it acquired the bulk of Linde’s gas business in North America and individual business units in South America. The Freshfields team out of Germany was led by Kai Hasselbach in Munich and Stephan Waldhausen in Dusseldorf while its US team was led by partners Omar Pringle (M&A) and Paul Yde (antitrust).

Latham is also advising CVC, with a team out of Frankfurt led by managing partner Oliver Felsenstein and corporate partner Leif Schrader.

Hengeler Mueller are advising Linde on the sale as lead corporate counsel, with the elite German firm fielding a team under Dusseldorf-based M&A partner Matthias Hentzen and Emanuel Strehle in Munich.

The German company also instructed Linklaters team as lead on competition aspects, with the top 20 global firm deploying corporate partner Timo Engelhardt in Munich on M&A and Thomas McGrath in New York and Bernd Meyring in Brussels on competition.

The carve-out was required for Linde to secure merger clearance for a combination with US rival Praxair.

McDermott Will & Emery and Greenberg Traurig earlier this month won mandates on the €5bn sale of Praxair’s European assets to Japanese rival Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC). Greenberg Traurig advised the buyer and McDermott the seller.

Hengeler is also advising Linde on the underlying merger with Praxair, alongside Wall Street leader Cravath Swaine & Moore and Linklaters. Sullivan & Cromwell is acting for Praxair. The Linde/Praxair tie-up was first proposed at the end of 2016.

Freshfields’ Hasselbach told Legal Business: ‘The most interesting aspect of the deal is the interlinking of three aspects into one. You have the merger as the reason for the disposal, you have Messer putting its Western European companies into the joint venture. You also have antitrust authorities urging the disposal of certain assets.

‘We did not know exactly which assets the antitrust authorities were instructing the company to sell until a short time before the clients bought them. While the assets were broadly similar, there was uncertainty over how many assets would be sold and in which states. That was challenging from a private equity perspective.’

Elsewhere, Paul Hastings’ recent hire of Anu Balasubramanian (pictured) from DLA Piper to lead its City private equity team continues to pay dividends, with the new partner sealing her second mandate this month acting for key relationship client Abry.

The latest deal sees Paul Hastings advise the Boston-based media- focused sponsor on its disposal of Basefarm to Orange Group for €350m.

Basefarm provides services and technology advice relating to big data, cloud computing and information security, operating in Norway, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Balasubramanian advised alongside fellow corporate partner Garrett Hayes in a team including tax partner Arun Birla. Schjødt advised on Norwegian law aspects, with DLA Piper covering additional due diligence. Orange was advised by Herbert Smith Freehills. Earlier this month, Balasubramanian led a team advising Abry on its cash offer for European telecom provider LINK Mobility in a deal valued at €357m.

In a prolific week for the firm, Paul Hastings on Monday (16 July) also announced it was advising Monaco Telecom on its acquisition of mobile and fixed telecom operator MTN Cyprus for €260m. Monaco Telecom is majority-owned by NJJ, the investment arm of French billionaire Xavier Niel. Garrett Hayes led Paul Hastings’ team, while Goodwin Procter’s Arnaud Fromion advised Monaco Telecom on financing. Freshfields M&A partner Bruce Embley advised MTN.

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