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Deal Watch: Rich pickings for Travers and Ashurst as US giants get busy on the continent

It was a busy week for UK and US deal counsel as Travers Smith and Ashurst acted on multibillion-pound deals north of the channel and White & Case and Ropes & Gray landed key mandates in continental Europe.

Again acting well above its traditional mid-market territory, Travers advised IT company Micro Focus on the $2.5bn sale of open source software business SUSE to EQT Partners.

Head of corporate Spencer Summerfield led the Travers team, which also included corporate partners Jon Reddington and Mohammed Senouci.

Summerfield pointed to his firm’s history with the software business, having advised UK company Micro Focus when it initially bought SUSE in 2014 as part of the $2.3bn acquisition of The Attachmate Group. He commented: ‘This investment has generated substantial shareholder value and provided the SUSE business with a strong, long term investor to support its next phase of growth.’

Travers also fielded a team of specialists on the deal, including IP and tech partners Dan Reavill and James Longster, competition partner Stephen Whitfield, tax partners Simon Skinner and Madeline Gowlett, head of incentives and remuneration Mahesh Varia and real estate partner Paul Kenny.

The deal was another big mandate for Travers after longstanding client Bridgepoint recently instructed the UK firm on its £1.5bn sale of Pret A Manger.

A Latham & Watkins team led by finance partner Dominic Newcomb advised EQT alongside Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Completion of the deal is expected in the first quarter of next year.

Meanwhile, White & Case advised CVC Capital Partners in one of Italy’s largest ever private equity transactions: the €3bn acquisition of Italian drugmaker Recordati from the family of the company’s founders.

White & Case’s Milan office founder Michael Immordino acted for the private equity house on the M&A and financing aspects of the transaction. CVC will buy 51.8% of Recordati in a transaction valuing the company at almost €6bn.

London partners Mike Weir and Steve Worthington were also part of the team, alongside Milan-based Ferigo Foscari and Leonardo Graffi. Martin Forbes, James Greene, Iacopo Canino and Alessandro Nolet advised on the financing of the deal.

Italy private equity firm Gattai Minoli Agostinelli & Partners also acted for CVC with founder Bruno Gattai and partners Gerardo Gabrielli, Nicola Brunetti and Lorenzo Cairo. Independent firm Studio Tributario Associato Facchini Rossi & Soci advised on tax and due diligence with partners Luca Rossi, Giancarlo Lapecorella and Marina Ampolilla.

Also on the continent, Ropes & Gray advised Netherlands telecoms company Altice Europe on the sale of stakes in its tower businesses in France and Portugal to KKR, Morgan Stanley and Horizon Equity Partners in a deal worth €2.5bn.

London finance partner Michael Kazakevich led the US firm’s team acting on the financing side, while French firm Franklin advised Altice on the M&A aspects with partners Christian Sauer, Julie Catala Marty and Magali Masson.

French firm Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier and US giant Simpson Thacher advised KKR, which will buy 49.99% of Altice’s French tower company, including 1,200 sites in the country valued at €3.6bn.

Partners Alain Maillot and Jean-Baptiste de Martigny led Darrois’s team. Morgan Stanley infrastructure and horizon equity partners will acquire 75% of Altice’s Portuguese tower company, with a portfolio of 2,961 tower sites worth €660m.

Back in the UK, Ashurst advised Volcan Investments on the acquisition of Vedanta Resources in a deal valuing the UK mining company at £2.3bn and bringing an end to its UK listing.

Corporate partner Tom Mercer led the team acting for Volcan, which already owns 66.5% of Vedanta and is seeking to acquire the rest for £778m. Corporate partner Robert Ogilvy Watson and finance partner Tim Rennie were also part of the Ashurst team.

Ashurst had acted for Vedanta on the $812.6m acquisition of Electrosteel Steels and the $2.3bn merger with Cairn India. But this time the firm acted for Volcan, which had previously turned to Allen & Overy as it invested £3.5bn in Anglo American.

Latham advised the independent committee of the board of Vedanta with a London-based team led by corporate partners Richard Butterwick and Nick Cline.