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Dealwatch: CC beats Coronavirus jitters with two mandates as DLA drinks up Danone deal

An ‘all over the place’ market which saw Coronavirus impact transactions did not stop Clifford Chance (CC) from advising on two high-profile mandates, as DLA Piper led on Danone’s acquisition of Harrogate Water.

CC advised US-based private equity investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on its £400m acquisition of healthcare communications and public relations group Huntsworth. Huntsworth provides marketing and medical communication services to pharmaceutical companies and recently reported revenue of £264.9m for 2019.

The CC team was led by private equity partner Simon Tinkler and corporate partners Katherine Moir and Steven Fox. A team led by banking and finance partner David Robson advised the lending banks to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

A Debevoise & Plimpton team advised Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on the debt financing with a team led by Alan Davies. Ashurst advised Bank of America Merrill Lynch with a team led by Tom Mercer and Tim Rennie, while Hunstworth was advised by a Pinsent Masons team led by Gareth Jones and Rob Hutchings.

Tinkler told Legal Business: ‘It is part of an increasing trend in private equity – to take companies off the public market. There’s been a lot of commentary at the moment about the fact that there aren’t many new companies coming into the market but equally there’s an increasing number of companies that are already on the market being taken private.’

He added: ‘Last week, as a consequence of Coronavirus, the market was all over the place with big falls in New York, Asia and London but despite that we managed to get the transaction over the line and a lot of people weren’t expecting that after what they saw happen in the market.’

Elsewhere, CC also acted for BlackRock in its first European private equity investment, as the asset management firm acquired Anglo-French luxury brand Olivier Creed through a fund called Long Term Private Capital (LTPC), set up in 2019. The value of the deal is undisclosed.

BlackRock currently manages a portfolio of $7.4 trillion worth of investments and recently moved into the private equity business. In 2019, it purchased New York-based brand management company Authentic Brands Group for $875m.

The CC team was led by Nick Hughes and Chris Sullivan. A King & Spalding team advised Olivier Creed led by corporate partner Derek Meilman in London and supported by Paris-based corporate partner Laurent Bensaid.

Finally, DLA advised Danone on a majority stake acquisition in Harrogate-based independent bottled water producer Harrogate Water.

French company Danone is a multinational food product corporation with a portfolio of brands including Volvic and Evian.

The DLA team was led by London corporate partner Martin Nelson-Jones and included partner Daniel Colgan, who advised on the antitrust aspects from Brussels. Harrogate Water was advised by Black Solicitors, led by Nigel Hoyel.

The value of the deal is undisclosed and the deal is subject to regulatory approval.