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Dealwatch: Global 100 firms bank on €1.8bn Visa deal as payments, gaming and ESG charge the market

As Euro 2020 fever well and truly takes hold, the London deal team of Skadden has scored four times in recent days, not least advising Visa on its €1.8bn acquisition of European open banking platform Tink opposite an international team from White & Case.

Tapping into the ongoing trend of transactions in the online payments sector, the high-profile deal sees the US financial services giant acquire Stockholm-headquartered Tink, a platform that enables banks, fintechs and start-ups to develop data-driven financial services.

Via one application programming interface (API), Tink allows customers to access aggregated financial data, initiate payments and build personal finance management tools. It connects to more than 3,400 banks that reach over 250 million customers across Europe and serves more than 300 banks and fintechs in 18 European markets from offices in 13 countries.

Skadden M&A partner Simon Toms has had a busy run of late, advising Visa on that acquisition; Electronic Arts on its $1.4bn acquisition of Playdemic from AT&T; Halewood International on its sale of perry brand Lambrini to Australian wine giant Accolade Wines; and JP Morgan on its investment in blockchain platform HQLAx.

Toms told Legal Business: ‘Tink is a fast-growing company and has undertaken prior fundraising rounds but it is in the payments space, which is hot at the moment. Open banking is interesting because it allows customers to grant access to their financial data to providers through a website or app to offer new or improved services.’

Also on the Skadden team were Brussels antitrust partner Ingrid Vandenborre, and Palo Alto M&A partner Kenton King, a long-term relationship partner for Visa.

White & Case acted for Tink with a team led by partners Henrik Wireklint in Stockholm and Hyder Jumabhoy in London. Wireklint noted: ‘We have advised Tink through its development and rapid growth into one of the largest open banking platforms and fintechs in Europe. Our pan-European team helped successfully navigate this strategically important transaction for Tink.’

Meanwhile, the acquisition by Electronic Arts of UK mobile games company and creator of the Golf Clash game Playdemic from AT&T also enlisted a team from Gibson Dunn. Golf Clash is one of the leading mobile games in the US and UK and has had more than 80 million downloads globally. The transaction sees a continuation of Electronic Arts’ acquisition of mobile game publisher Glu Mobile earlier this year as well as its $1.2bn acquisition of British video game developer and publisher, Codemasters.

Toms said of the deal: ‘The gaming sector is very active generally because of the significant growth in the amount of online games that are available to download.’

And on the market generally, he is sanguine: ‘Having joined Skadden two weeks into lockdown, I did not expect to be this busy. The deal flow has exceeded my expectations and all the signs are this will continue in the coming months.’

Gibson Dunn acted for AT&T with a team led by New York partner Eduardo Gallardo and London partner Nicholas Tomlinson. London partner Benjamin Fryer advised on tax and London partner James Cox advised on employment while New York partner Daniel Angel acted on IP aspects.

Elsewhere, private equity shop EQT has also been going gangbusters of late and has been particularly prolific in the renewable energy, digital infrastructure and payment systems sectors. Latham & Watkins won a mandate to advise EQT on a €2.7bn refinancing for its portfolio company GlobalConnect, a fibre-based data communication and data centre services provider to enterprises and consumers in northern Europe. The refinancing has raised funds for expansion and was backed by a group of 14 Scandinavian and international lenders.

The new debt refinances loans previously held by GlobalConnect, which operates a 24,000km fibre network in Norway and data centres in Denmark and IP-Only, which owns a 16,000km fibre network in Sweden. The two companies merged last year to form the GlobalConnect Group.  The Latham team was led by London finance partner Conrad Andersen.

Earlier in June, Clifford Chance benefited from EQT’s purple patch to advise it on a €881m takeover bid of listed Spanish solar PV developer Solarpack. The deal sees Solarpack’s shareholders Beraunberri, Burgest 2007 and Landa together sell their nearly 51% stake in what will be a public to private deal as EQT intends to delist the company. The CC team was led by M&A partners Javier Amantegui and Samir Azzouzi in Madrid. CC also recently advised energy company Vattenfall on the sale to German chemicals company BASF of a 49.5% stake in its 1.5GW Hollandse Kust Zuid offshore wind farm in the Dutch North Sea. The international CC team advising Vattenfall was led out of Amsterdam by partners Hein Tonnaer and Liesbeth Buiter.

Back with EQT, its investment via EQT Growth in Mollie, one of the largest payment service providers in Europe, paid off for teams from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek as EQT participated in an $800m Series C round with a valuation of $6.5bn. Headquartered in Amsterdam, Mollie enables online payments for companies across the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and the UK. The company grown swiftly in recent years with revenues more than doubling in 2020.

The Freshfields team advising EQT was led by London private equity partner Vincent Bergin and the De Brauw team advising Mollie was led by partners Arne Grimme, Henk van Ravenhorst and Mark Rebergen.

Finally, Allen & Overy advised Brookfield Business Partners on its $5bn acquisition of leasing services company Modulaire Group from TDR Capital.

The A&O team was led by London M&A head, Dominic Morris, M&A partner Alex Tilley and private equity partner Peter Banks. A&O also advised on the financing, led by London leveraged finance partner Neil Sinha alongside leveraged finance partner Adam Zecharia and capital markets partner Kevin Muzilla.  Linklaters acted for Modulair.

Dealmakers have in recent years grown accustomed to forsaking a long summer break as deal volumes showed no sign of abating. Whether foreign travel permits or not, this year looks to be no exception.