Continental Europe provided rich pickings to the global legal elite this week, as Blackstone and Hellman & Friedman agreed to one of the largest ever takeovers of a German listed company by a private equity group.
Latham & Watkins and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted for Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone as the two PE houses announced a bid to acquire German online business Scout24, which was advised by A&O.
The cash offer for the entirety of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange-listed company is €46 per share, valuing Scout24’s equity at €4.9bn and giving the company an enterprise value of €5.7bn.
London private equity partners David Walker and Huw Thomas led the Latham team advising on the M&A, debt and equity finance aspects of the deal. The team also saw two of Latham’s most recent hires from the Magic Circle feature: Düsseldorf corporate partners Nikolaos Paschos and Tobias Larisch. The former joined the US firm from Linklaters in August 2017, the latter from Freshfields in March last year.
Larisch’s former colleagues, Freshfields partners Stephan Waldhausen and Arend von Riegen, advised the bidders on M&A matters, while A&O’s Christian Eichner and Hans Diekman acted for Scout24.
Latham previously advised Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone on the acquisition of Scout24 in 2013, and then on the company’s listing in 2015.
‘This is a major deal for the European private equity market,’ Walker told Legal Business. ‘There is, of course, uncertainty about the impact of Brexit, and indeed the general economic climate, but there continues to be a very healthy appetite for high quality assets and this deal shows that.’
The offer is subject to a minimum acceptance threshold of 50% plus one share and was brought forward to Pulver BidCo, a holding company jointly controlled by the two private equity houses.
A&O was busy north of the channel too, as London corporate partner Stephen Lloyd led the team advising Swedish chemicals company Perstorp as it sold its UK chemicals division Capa to US rival Ingevity.
Eversheds corporate partner Nicola Brookes led the team advising New York Stock Exchange-listed Ingevity, while Swedish firm Mannheimer Swartling provided Sweden law advice to Perstorp.
‘The special thing about this deal for our client is that it is their first acquisition outside of the US,’ Brookes told Legal Business.
The deal comes at the end of a competitive process, with private equity house Cinven also showing interest towards the end of last year.
Brookes said that Brexit was something ‘we had to deal with in terms of due diligence. The parties discussed Brexit and how they would protect themselves given that their suppliers are based across Europe.’