Legal Business

Game over: Debevoise, A&O and Fenwick & West lead on Candy Crush maker’s sale for $6bn


Debevoise & Plimpton, Allen & Overy (A&O) and Fenwick & West have scored roles advising video game maker Activision Blizzard on the acquisition of Candy Crush creator King Digital Entertainment for $5.9bn – one of the largest deals in the fast-growing interactive entertainment industry.

The acquisition will create one of the world’s largest entertainment networks with over a half a billion monthly active users in 196 countries.

Under the agreement, ABS Partners – a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard – will acquire all of the outstanding shares of King Digital at $18 per share, for a total equity value of $5.9bn.

The acquisition is expected to generate over $36bn of revenue by the end of 2015 and grow by over 50% in the next four years.

Debevoise was lead M&A counsel for the deal with a team led out of New York by its corporate chair Jeffrey Rosen and co-head of M&A William Regner. Finance partner David Brittenham, benefits chair Lawrence Cagney, tax partner Gary Friedman and corporate partners Paul Rodel and Jeffrey Ross also worked on the transaction.

Activision Blizzard turned to A&O for advice on competition aspects in the EU, led by antitrust partner Dirk Arts, alongside Irish firm Mason Hayes & Curran.

Dublin-based King instructed Irish firm William Fry with US advice from tech firm Fenwick & West.

The deal is the latest in a series of tech deals for A&O, which recently won a role advising IT company CSC on its merger with US public sector tech outfit SRA to create a company with $5.5bn in revenues and billed as the ‘largest pure-play IT services provider serving the US government sector.’

A&O has been active in the financial technology arena, working on a raft of IPOs including Worldpay, Equiniti, Funding Circle and Softcat.

Legal Business

Asia: Ashurst bolsters Singapore with W&C hire; DLA appoints Asia corporate head; Fenwick & West opens in Shanghai


The Asian market has over the past week seen investment from international law firms including DLA Piper, Fenwick & West and Ashurst, which most recently bolstered its finance practices in both Singapore and Hong Kong.

Ashurst this week hired White & Case finance partner Kate Allchurch in Singapore, as it relocated London-based finance partner Chris Tang and Sydney-based Doos Choi to Hong Kong.

Allchurch joins from White & Case’s Singapore office, which she relocated to from London in 2009. She specialises in acquisition finance, structured lending, asset-backed lending, debt buy-backs, telecoms finance, restructuring and secondary debt market transactions. Her arrival brings Ashurst’s Singapore office up to three banking partners, as well as two project finance partners.

‘Kate is a highly experienced lawyer with strong international experience and a great reputation for her work in South East Asia’s emerging markets, particularly Indonesia. Her arrival complements our existing finance practice, which already has a very strong position in Indonesia and other South East Asia-related work,’ said Matthew Bubb, Asia managing partner of the firm.

Ashurst’s Hong Kong office now has four banking partners as Doos Choi and Chris Tang join fellow partners Matthias Schemuth and Dominic Gregory. Choi specialises in acquisition finance, and investment grade and sub-investment grade corporate finance. Tang, meanwhile, is a specialist in derivatives and structured finance products.

‘Through a combination of targeted lateral hires and the relocation of some of our brightest international talents to the region we have built a very strong team across Asia, offering a full range of services in relation to bank lending, structured products, derivatives, restructuring and investment banking services, as well as dedicated banking litigation and regulatory coverage,’ said Paul Jenkins, co-global head of the firm’s finance division.

Elsewhere, DLA Piper has regrouped after a four-lawyer team that included Asia corporate head Mabel Lui left for US firm Winston & Strawn earlier this month. The firm has appointed US M&A partner Paul Chen as its new head of corporate for Asia, with Chen relocating from DLA’s Silicon Valley office to Hong Kong in June.

Chen has previous experience in the role as he was Hong Kong managing partner for the now defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf. His experience includes advising corporates and private equity funds on a mix of transactions including M&A, capital raising, investments, joint ventures, leveraged buyouts and divestitures, with a particular focus on insurance clients.

Chen’s appointment follows on from DLA’s decision last year to boost the number of US partners in Asia. The firm set up a US-led, three-partner Asia management committee in December to develop more synergies between its US and Asia offices.

Meanwhile, US technology and life sciences firm Fenwick & West has opened a representative office in Shanghai. The office will be led by partner Eva Wang, who joined the firm last year, along with four associates. Wang’s clients include US and China-based venture capital funds that invest in China, emerging growth companies based in China and the US and public companies based in China and listed on the US and Hong Kong stock markets.

Wang’s pre-Fenwick & West experience includes acting as general counsel at Spreadtrum Communications during its initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock market in 2007.

‘In response to increasing work for technology and life sciences clients based in China as well as U.S. companies doing business in China, we’re making additional investments including recruiting lateral partner Eva Wang a year ago, and now, opening an office in Shanghai and expanding the team to 20 attorneys, including those who reside in the firm’s US offices,’ said Richard Dickson, chairman of the firm.

Legal Business

WhatsApp? Weil secures lead role on Facebook’s $16bn acquisition led by 2012 Dewey hire


The first global law firm to open an office in US technology heartland Silicon Valley, Weil Gotshal & Manges has secured the lead role on Facebook’s $16bn acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp, led by high profile 2012 Dewey & LeBoeuf lateral hire Keith Flaum.

Flaum, an M&A partner who joined Weil’s Silicon Valley office as part of a highly-rated five-partner technology team in the same month as Dewey’s spectacular collapse in May 2012, led a team opposite Fenwick & West for WhatsApp.

Fenwick & West’s team was led by corporate partners Sayre Stevick, Andrew Luh and Shawn Lampron, based in Mountain View, California.

Weil last year acted for Facebook in its acquisition of cloud-based software developer Parse, and in its acquisition of Microsoft Corp.’s Atlas online advertising platform for an undisclosed sum.

WhatsApp, which has 450 million users around the world who pay a flat fee of $1 to use its mobile messaging service, with the first year going for free, is Facebook’s largest acquisition to date and the biggest corporate deal so far this year.

Facebook confirmed yesterday (19 February) that it has agreed to buy the social media company for $4bn in cash and $12bn in stock, plus $3bn in restricted stock units that will be granted to WhatsApp employees and founders.

New York boutique investment bank Allen & Company advised Facebook on the acquisition, while Morgan Stanley advised WhatsApp.

The advisers could look to earn more than $80million for their work combined, according to estimates from US-based Freeman Consulting Services.

In an announcement on its website, WhatsApp, which was founded by two former Yahoo engineers in 2009 and now employs 55 people, said it would ‘remain autonomous and operate independently’ of Facebook, promising that it would remain ad-less.

In Facebook’s own announcement, the now 10-year old social network said that in buying WhatsApp, which is growing faster than Twitter and other social media services, it gains access to customers who prefer ‘communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people’ rather than sharing information more widely.

In 2012, Facebook paid $1bn for photo-sharing service, Instagram, and made a $3bn bid, which was declined, for picture messaging service Snapchat late last year.