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Deal watch: Magic Circle firms in busy start to autumn as Freshfields and CC take leading roles in global buyouts

Global 100 firms have taken the lead on a trio of multibillion-dollar deals announced this week as the autumn deal season kicks off in earnest.

London’s big four international firms have featured large opposite Wall street rivals, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acting on Hellman & Friedman’s $5.3bn acquisition of Nets and Clifford Chance (CC) on Unilever’s $2.7bn buyout of Carver Korea.

Nordic payment processor Nets will be acquired by Evergood, a newly formed company which is controlled by funds managed by Hellman & Friedman (H&F). The private equity house first approached the Copenhagen-based group in June along with a number of other potential buyers.

H&F’s all-cash offer of $26 per share values the company at $5.3bn and the deal is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2018.

A team led by Freshfields partners David Higgins, Tim Wilmot and Andrew Hutchings advised H&F, alongside Danish Euro Elite firm Kromann Reumert. Latham & Watkins also advised the private equity house on the financing, with a team led by Christopher Kandel.

Copenhagen-headquartered Nets turned to Danish firm Gorrissen Federspiel for legal advice, led by partners Rikke Schiøtt Petersen and Olaf Carl Ehrenskjöld.

Inge Hansen, chairman of Nets said: ‘Having considered all options available to us, including continuing as a listed company, we are satisfied that the cash offer of DKK 165 [$26] per share to all shareholders is the most attractive alternative available. We believe Hellman & Friedman is a responsible, growth-oriented owner who will be able to take a long-term strategic approach to the development of Nets to the benefit of our stakeholders.’

This is the second multibillion-dollar deal Freshfields has acted on this year for H&F: in March, the Magic Circle firm advised the private equity house on its acquisition of Allfunds Bank.

Elsewhere, CC and Ropes & Gray acted as Unilever acquired cosmetics maker Carver Korea for $2.7bn from Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital and the company’s founder.

The Magic Circle firm’s Singapore-based partner Valerie Kong is heading the team advising Unilever, alongside local firm Bae, Kim & Lee.

South Korean partner Jaewoo Lee and US partner William Mone led the Ropes & Gray team acting for Bain Capital. Korean firm Kim & Chang also advised Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs.

Meanwhile, in an all-US adviser deal, Davis Polk & Wardwell and Weil, Gotshal & Manges are advising on Swiss engineering group ABB’s $2.6bn acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions.

The Zurich-headquartered group will purchase GE’s global electrification business based in Atlanta. The business employs around 13,500 employees worldwide and turned over around $2.7bn in 2016.

A New York-based Davis Polk corporate team including partners Phillip Mills and Michael Davis advised ABB. The firm also provided tax, IP, technology and environmental advice, with partners Avishai Shachar, Frank Azzopardi and Jeffrey Crandall involved.

The Weil team advising GE Industrial Solutions was led by New York-based partners William Gutowitz and Jackie Cohen. The firm also worked on the tax, IP, technology, environment and real estate components of the transaction.

Tarak Mehta, president of ABB’s electrification products division said the acquisition ‘strengthens our position as partner of choice for electrification globally and in North America’.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2018.