Legal Business

Morgan Lewis and A&L Goodbody act as Fyffes ripe for Japanese takeover


Advisory roles in Sumitomo Corporation’s €751m takeover of Irish banana firm Fyffes have been split between a raft of US and Irish firms including Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, A&L Goodbody and Arthur Cox.

Headquartered in Dublin and with operations in Europe, the US, Canada, Central and South America and Asia, Fyffes’ banana business generates about €1.2bn in revenues each year. Japanese giant Sumitomo has been active in the banana industry since the 1960s and is the market leader in Asia, importing approximately 30% of the bananas into the Japanese market.

Morgan Lewis advised Sumitomo with a team led by London banking and finance partner Bruce Johnston, M&A New York partners Bradley Edmister, Harry Robins and Alan Neuwirth and Texas partner Humberto Gonzalez. A&L Goodbody also advised the Japanese firm with a team led by David Widger.

Fyffes was represented by Arthur Cox with a team led by Stephen Hegarty with corporate partners Ciaran Bolger and Geoff Moore. Cian Beecher advised on employment aspects while tax partner Ailish Finnerty also worked on the deal.

Baker & McKenzie acted for the lenders Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. While, William Fry and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom acted for JP Morgan as the financial adviser.

Skadden’s team was led by London office head Mark Darley while William Fry’s team was led by corporate partner Mark Talbot.

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of Q4 2016.

Back in 2014 when Fyffes attempted to merge with Chiquita to create the world’s biggest banana brand, Chiquita was represented by Skadden.

Morgan Lewis has also advised Sumitomo in the past, most notably when it acted for subsidiary TBC Corporation for its $310m acquisition of NYSE-listed tyre company Midas.

Legal Business

Macfarlanes gets the gig as firms line up on Verizon’s $2.4bn purchase of Fleetmatics


Just days after the headline grabbing acquisition of Yahoo!, Goodwin Procter, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, A&L Goodbody and Macfarlanes are among those who have landed roles advising on Verizon’s purchase of Fleetmatics Group.

US internet giant Verizon has agreed to buy the Dublin-based and New York Stock Exchange-listed vehicle communications company for $60 a share in cash, valuing the offer at around $2.4bn.

The deal will see Verizon pick up Fleetmatics’ web-based solutions and tracking software for vehicle fleet operators, which provide insights into the mobile workforce. The company, which has offices in the US, UK and Ireland, has 1,200 employees and around 37,000 customers with 737,000 subscribers to its services.

Verizon was advised by US firm Cleary Gottlieb, Macfarlanes in London and A&L Goodbody on the Irish side of the deal. The Macfarlanes team advising Verizon was led by a trio of partners in Graham Gibb, Nicholas Barclay and Ashley Greenbank.

For Macfarlanes, the mandate follows the firm’s advice to Verizon in 2013 when Vodafone sold off its 45% interest in the company.

Fleetmatics was advised by Goodwin Procter technology partners Kenneth Gordon, James Matarese and Joseph Theis. Maples and Calder also advised on the Fleetmatics side.

Ashurst advised Wells Fargo and PJT Partners, the joint financial advisers to Verizon on the deal. The Ashurst team was led by corporate partners Adrian Clark and Karen Davies.

The announcement of the deal follows Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo! for $4.8bn. The acquisition was confirmed last week, with elite US firms taking on the major roles. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Covington & Burling and Winston & Strawn all acted for Verizon. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Weil, Gotshal & Manges served as legal advisers to the internet company.

The acquisition of Yahoo! and the offer for Fleetmatics come after Verizon’s purchase of AOL last year for $4.4bn.

Legal Business

Caught in controversy: A&L Goodbody jettisons Irish lottery clients after conflict arises


A&L Goodbody has received unwelcome national press and the ire of a former client after declaring a conflict of interest in its dealings with the high profile Irish lottery licence competition.

The Irish Times reported at the beginning of October that the leading Dublin-headquartered firm had been advising the bidding consortium led by UK operator Camelot and An Post, at the same time as advising charity group Rehab on a possible legal challenge to the national lottery, which may have serious consequences for the operator.

The Camelot-led consortium, which goes by the brand Premier Lotteries Ireland, was selected as the preferred applicant on 3 October. The bid was bankrolled by Camelot’s Canadian parent company, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), which employed A&L Goodbody as its legal adviser to the process last year, the Irish Times reported.

It is understood that the firm provided legal advice to both parties for more than a year but terminated its relationship with both clients as soon as a conflict arose.

However, Rehab, which has also lodged legal proceedings against the Minister for Justice, Attorney General and An Post for damages arising from the National Lottery’s dominant market position, told Legal Business it is considering its options in relation to A&L Goodbody’s disclosure.

‘We’re gravely concerned. This is a very serious matter and we’re examining all of our options,’ a spokesman for the charity said.

A spokesperson for A&L Goodbody told Legal Business: ‘For reasons of client confidentiality and other legal obligations, A&L Goodbody cannot comment on specific client matters.’

For more in-depth analysis on Ireland’s leading firms, see ‘Outrageous fortune: how Ireland’s leading elite has stood up to five punishing years of austerity’