Legal Business

Dealwatch: Weil and Mayer Brown scoop leads on Nestlé’s $4bn US ice cream business sale

Dealwatch: Weil and Mayer Brown scoop leads on Nestlé’s $4bn US ice cream business sale

Weil Gotshal & Manges and Mayer Brown have advised on the sale of Nestlé’s US ice cream business to Froneri for $4bn.

Froneri is an ice cream focused joint venture by Nestlé and PAI Partners created in 2016. The deal means that brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Edy’s, Drumstick and Dreyer’s will join its portfolio which already includes Movenpick, Green & Blacks and Cadbury’s ice cream.

Weil advised Froneri with a team led by London private equity partner Jonathan Wood and Boston private equity partner Matthew Goulding. The team also included London managing partner Michael Francis, head of the firm’s London technology and IP transactions practice Barry Fishley and London banking partner Tom Richards.

Mayer Brown advised Nestle with a team led out of the US by partners David Carpenter, John Boelter and Michelle Gross.

Carpenter told Legal Business: ‘Nestlé has already contributed to the ice cream business in different parts of the world through this joint venture. The buyer is actually 50% owned by Nestlé and so it’s moving the ice cream business into a company that has a private equity partner. It will be focused on ice cream rather than being part of a big conglomerate.’

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised private equity firm CVC Capital Partners on the acquisition of a stake in WebPros Group by CVC Fund VII from Oakley Capital Private Equity and other investors.

WebPros is a web hosting automation software provider for server management and includes web hosting platforms cPanel and Plesk and web hosting management and billing software WHMCS.

The Freshfields team was led by global co-head of financial sponsors Charles Hayes, co-head of European leveraged finance Alex Mitchell and corporate and M&A lawyer Vincent Bergin.

Kirkland & Ellis advised Oakley Capital on the sale led by London corporate partners Rory Mullarkey and Jacob Traff as well as Ben Leyendeckerin Munich.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Elsewhere, White & Case advised on the $25.6bn IPO of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), making it the world’s largest IPO. The company began trading on the Saudi Arabian Tadawul Stock Exchange on Wednesday 11 December under TADAWUL: ARAMCO.

The offering included subscriptions from institutions and individuals, comprising of SAR 446bn ($119bn). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sold 3bn shares of Saudi Aramco which accounted for 1.5% Saudi Aramco’s share capital.

The White & Case team was led by Dubai partner Sami Al-Louzi and included London partners Inigo Esteve, capital markets partner Alexander Underwood, Ronan O’Reilly and employment compensation and benefits lawyer Jack Gardener. The Law Office of Megren Al-Shaalan also advised Aramco with a team led by Megren Al-Shaalan and Doug Peel and included London capital markets partner Ibrahim Soumrany.

The $1.7trn valuation makes Saudi Aramco the largest company by market capitalisation. Over 400 White & Case lawyers from around 20 offices advised Saudi Aramco on the transaction.

Latham & Watkins advised the underwriters of Saudi Aramco on non-Saudi law matters. The team was led by New York partners Marc Jaffe and Ian Schuman and included London partner Craig Nethercott. London partners James Inness and Jeremy Green offered advice on corporate matters, Chirag Sanghrajka advised on finance, Rob Moulton advised on regulatory matters while Karl Mah advised on tax.

Prior to the listing, the largest IPO spot was held by Alibaba Group Holding Limited which listed in September 2014 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for $21.8bn.

Finally, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) on the $450m acquisition of a 25.1% stake in Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) from Adani Transmission Limited as well as a shareholder subordinated debt investment by QIA in AEML.

AEML is part of Adani Group, an integrated business conglomerate based in India which includes six publicly traded companies, focusing on resources, logistics, energy and agriculture.

The Cleary team was led by London partners Tihir Sarkar and Nallini Puri.

Puri told Legal Business: ‘QIA is a very big investor to be partnering with. The Adani Group is a big group with lots of diversified interests and historically they’ve engaged in a lot of acquisitions, particularly within India. India’s done less with foreign investors. In some ways this is a very significant partnership for them because they’ve tied up with a very high profile investor.’

AEMl was advised by Indian firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas led by partners from the Mumbai office.

The deal is expected to close in early 2020 subject to customary conditions and regulatory approval.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Latham revisits CC for finance hire as DLA recruits BCLP duo in London

Revolving doors: Latham revisits CC for finance hire as DLA recruits BCLP duo in London

Defying the pre-Christmas lull in City laterals, Latham & Watkins last week returned to Clifford Chance to bolster its finance bench as DLA Piper expanded its infrastructure disputes team with a double hire.

Latham hired CC infrastructure and real estate veteran Stephen Curtis to its London finance team. Curtis, who had been at the Magic Circle firm since 1991 and a partner since 2000, advises on structured finance transactions in the regulated utility, infrastructure and real estate sectors, as well as corporate securitisations.

Latham partner and chair of the global structured finance and securitisation practice Sanjev Warna-kula-suriya told Legal Business: ‘Steve has a world of experience in the structured debt sector, focusing on infrastructure finance and structured real estate. That fits very well into our existing infrastructure finance capability.

‘Infrastructure spend is a very important political and economic target for governments. In the European Union, there’s a huge amount of infrastructure investment plans. From a macro perspective, there will be demand for more infrastructure investment. From a finance perspective, the changes to the regulatory capital rulings make it difficult for banks. We have been seeing alternative investment players coming in to provide the financings,’ added Warna-kula-suriya.

Latham last hired from Clifford Chance back in August 2018 when infrastructure private equity heavyweight Brendan Moylan joined the corporate team.

His was the highest profile PE move from CC to Latham since the US giant recruited practice co-head Oliver Felsenstein in 2015. Nevertheless, it is a well-trodden path, with David Walker, Tom Evans and Kem Ihenacho all having gone the same way between 2013 and 2014.

DLA meanwhile, appointed partners Bob Maynard and Caroline Pope from BCLP to its litigation and regulatory practice in London.

Maynard focuses on litigation, arbitration, adjudication, mediation, project advisory and forensic investigation work while Pope has experience in alternative dispute resolution, particularly mediation and expert determination.

DLA UK head of construction, engineering & infrastructure disputes Paul Giles told Legal Business: ‘Bob and Caroline are tier 1 partners and give a mixture of domestic UK market presence as well as international.

‘We were underrepresented in this area for a firm of our size in the UK. We have been steadily growing over the last few years. We wanted to increase our presence and profile in London but also in the international market,’ added Giles.

Other recent appointments to the construction, engineering & infrastructure disputes London team include partner Anna Mills who joined from Hogan Lovells in January 2019.

Elsewhere, TLT added partner Liz Cotton to its employment bench in Manchester. She joined from JMW where she was head of employment. Cotton has experience in contentious and non-contentious employment law issues.

TLT employment partner Ed Cotton told Legal Business: ‘Liz’s extensive experience in the retail sector is a great addition to our existing specialism in this market. We’ve built a national employment team that covers a wide range of specialisms and Liz’s experience will help to broaden this out in a number of areas.’

‘We’re seeing increasing demand from clients across a range of contentious and non-contentious issues, from redundancy and board disputes to whistleblowing and discrimination claims,’ Cotton added.

Dentons hired partner Oliver Dreher to its capital markets practice in Frankfurt. Dreher joined from CMS where he led the debt capital markets team. He has experience in advising German and international banks and other clients on bond transactions, bonded loans, registered bonds, derivatives, and clearing of financial instruments.

Further afield, Squire Patton Boggs launched a global commodities and shipping group in Singapore and hired partners Barry Stimpson and Jessica Kenworthy from Reed Smith to lead the new team.

Stimpson has over 25 years’ experience in disputes and advisory work in the international trade, shipping, offshore energy, construction and insurance sectors while Kenworthy covers complex commodity financings and ship financings. The commodities and shipping group will offer a range of legal services in international trade and shipping and across all commodity sectors.

Chairman and global CEO of Squires Mark Ruehlmann told Legal Business: ‘Barry and Jessica are an ideal fit for us – they are highly respected in their field, and well connected to the sectors and industries they advise. They are experienced in building teams and nurturing talent and have great commercial flair; and are highly collaborative in their approach to client solutions.

‘With the significant investment into our commodities and shipping group, we can continue to build on our success in Singapore, Australia and the Asia Pacific region. We will see expansion with new hires to strengthen the current team, not only in Singapore but also in the wider region and in commercial hubs such as London,’ added Ruehlmann.

Legal Business

City promotions drop for Latham in US-driven partnership round

City promotions drop for Latham in US-driven partnership round

Latham & Watkins has promoted 33 lawyers to partner, with its London outpost accounting for 15% of those getting the nod.

Effective from January 2020, the promotion round sees a marked decrease in the number associates made up in London, with five promoted compared to last year’s exceptional bumper round of nine.

Globally, the 33 promotions represent a slight increase on last year’s 31-strong round but have a much clearer focus on the firm’s heartlands, with 26 of the new partners based in the US.

Neil Campbell, Stuart Davis and Beatrice Lo were promoted in its London corporate practice, while Manoj Bhundia and David Ziyambi were added to the partnership in the firm’s City finance practice.

Five of the promotions were in its New York base, where the firm is focused on growing and where chair Rich Trobman relocated to in July.

The DC and Houston outposts saw four promotions each; Silicon Valley and Chicago three apiece; while only two were minted in Los Angeles. The other US promotions were spread across its Boston, Century City, Orange County and San Diego bases. The firm’s German offices in Munich and Hamburg got one new partner each.

Speaking to Legal Business the chair of Latham’s associates committee, Peter Gilhuly, cautioned against reading too much into the decrease in London promotions: ‘We study the recommendations carefully and we don’t have quotas at all. We find our numbers move up and down over time. London is obviously a very important office and we tend to promote a number of candidates there but promotion classes vary over time. Those numbers even out over time.’

He added that the lack of promotions in the firm’s Asian offices was due to a ‘pipeline issue’ rather than a lack of demand: ‘Demand is incredibly strong across our platform. If there are people qualified to be promoted they will be considered and promoted. There is no area where we are not promoting.’

Gilhuly described the firm’s transactional practices, which accounted for about 60% of the new promotions, as ‘red hot in a number of areas’: ‘We are having spectacular results in our transactional practices and a number of extraordinary candidates.’

He also expressed satisfaction at the fact that 33% of the new partners promoted were women, up from 29% last year: ‘We are very happy that organically our diversity numbers are rising. I am confident that because we have so many strong female candidates coming up those numbers should naturally tend to increase. We don’t believe in quotas – quality is first, and we are having some good results naturally.’

Latham’s partnership promotions are once again dwarfed by US rival Kirkland & Ellis, which earlier this month broke yet another record by promoting 141 lawyers to the partnership including 16 in the City.

Latham’s most recent set of financials confirmed the firm as the second highest-grossing in the world after Kirkland. In 2018, the Los Angeles-bred giant added $300m to its top line to hit $3.386bn.

Legal Business

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

With news this weekend that Thomas Cook is on the brink of collapse and has ceased trading with immediate effect, a number of global elite firms have been lined up to advise on the latest high-profile collapse of a household name.

Ashurst is advising  the Official Receiver as well as AlixPartners and KPMG, which were appointed as special managers in respect of certain Thomas Cook entities, while Slaughter and May and Latham & Watkins are advising Thomas Cook. Insolvency practitioners from AlixPartners have been appointed as special managers over the airline and tour operator companies, while practitioners from KPMG have been appointed as special managers to the group’s retail division and to its aircraft maintenance companies.

Giles Boothman, Olga Galazoula and Lynn Dunne are leading the Ashurst team, with Crowley Woodford and Ruth Buchanan advising on the employment law aspects and Derwin Jenkinson, Tom Mercer and James Fletcher focusing on the corporate side. Meanwhile, the Slaughters team is being led by Tom Vickers and the Latham team is headed by partners Nick Cline, John Houghton and James Inness.

A Reed Smith team from the UK, Germany and the US are advising the Civil Aviation Authority in relation to the insolvency. The Civil Aviation Authority and AlixPartners will work together to deal with the repatriation of all stranded customers. The team is led by partners Richard Spafford who is advising on licensing and regulatory issues, Charlotte Møller leads on the insolvency law and contingency planning for the repatriation, while Nick Williams is advising on the financial aspects.

Chief executive of Thomas Cook Peter Fankhauser commented: ‘We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook’s future for its employees, customers and suppliers.  Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.’

In July, a team led by restructuring partner Ian Johnson, financing partner Ed Fife and corporate partner Richard Smith from Slaughters and a team from Latham & Watkins advised Thomas Cook Group in relation to the proposed recapitalisation plan.

Thomas Cook was looking for a £750m investment and was in talks with its largest shareholder, Fosun Tourism Group, as well as the company’s core lenders on a substantial new capital investment as part of a proposed recapitalisation and separation of the group.

Legal Business

Latham turns focus to Manhattan as chair Trobman relocates from London

Latham turns focus to Manhattan as chair Trobman relocates from London

Latham & Watkins’ leadership is moving out of London after four years with City-based chair and managing partner Rich Trobman is set to relocate to his native US just over a year into his first term at the helm of the firm.

The firm confirmed today (29 July) that Trobman is moving to its New York branch almost 20 years after relocating to London in 2000 in a symbolic shift for the partnership of the Los Angeles-born firm.

Trobman (pictured) said he was ‘immensely proud’ of what the firm had achieved in London and there was ‘tremendous opportunity for us to grow still further in a number of key markets, including New York’. He added: ‘I will continue to spend a considerable amount of time in London and as well as our offices across the globe.’

As Latham’s second consecutive leader based in London, Trobman stepped into the role for a five-year term in June last year , three months after predecessor Bill Voge resigned amid allegations of misconduct. London-based projects partner Voge had taken over from the firm’s leader of 20 years, California-based Bob Dell, in January 2015.

Trobman meanwhile joined Latham in 1991 as an associate in Los Angeles, moved to New York in 1993 and had been based in the London office since making partner at the turn of the Millennium. He is synonymous with the hugely successful build-out of Latham’s London practice – which turned over an estimated $375m in 2018.

The firm has continued growing its City operations over the last few months, with a number of high-profile hires including Linklaters insurance partner Victoria Sander, Clifford Chance’s infrastructure head Brendan Moylan, Allen & Overy’s finance partner Conrad Andersen and Sidley Austin restructuring partner Yen Sum.

Latham became last year the first law firm to ever report revenue of over $3bn for its 2017 financial year, before being passed by Kirkland & Ellis as the highest grossing firm in the world. In 2018 Latham added another $323m to its top line to $3.386bn  but the gap with Kirkland increased as the rival turned over $3.76bn.

The only candidate based outside Latham’s US heartland in the race, Trobman saw off competition from seven other candidates from the firm’s DC, New York and Los Angeles offices to win the leadership race in March last year. While it was unusual for a US firm to elect two consecutive leaders based outside the US, Trobman said that his election was a ‘reflection of the fact that our partners have a global outlook and they believe in our global strategy’. The move announced today points to the fact that Latham’s global strategy is now focused on strengthening in the world’s largest and most competitive legal market.

Legal Business

Latham confirms death of Spain managing partner Juan Picón

Latham confirms death of Spain managing partner Juan Picón

Latham & Watkins’ Spain managing partner and former DLA Piper senior partner Juan Picón, one of his home country’s top commercial lawyers, has died of lymphoma cancer.

A post on Picón’s LinkedIn profile about a week ago mentioned a ‘new challenge’, referencing an article on Spanish business media El Confidencial talking about an ‘unforeseen health issue’ affecting Picón.

Latham chair and managing partner Rich Trobman said in a statement: ‘We mourn the passing of our extraordinary and dear friend and partner. Juan was a gifted lawyer, visionary leader, and incredibly thoughtful person who touched the lives of so many at the firm and throughout the profession.

‘He will be remembered for his generous spirit, boundless energy, selfless leadership, tremendous courage, and inner strength. A giant in so many ways, and an inspiration to all who knew him, he will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as we mourn the loss of a truly special individual. Our many fond memories of Juan will live on.’

In what was described as one of the most important management moves in the market over the last few years, Picón quit his role as DLA senior partner and co-chair less than two years into his term in November 2017 to join Latham. Speaking to Legal Business earlier that year, Picón mentioned his desire to spend more time in his native country: ‘Last year I spent 220 days outside Spain. Not a lot of time with the family. I am old enough now to know that I would do things differently if I started again and I try to convey that to the younger generation. You can be a successful lawyer and organise yourself in a different way.’

His long and highly respected career included spells at Clifford Chance and, between 1997 and 2006, at legacy Squire, Sanders & Dempsey.

Legal Business

Global Elite line up on Nestlé’s $10bn skincare business sale to EQT

Global Elite line up on Nestlé’s $10bn skincare business sale to EQT

Latham & Watkins is acting alongside US counterpart Kirkland & Ellis in advising EQT as the private equity house looks to acquire Nestlé’s skincare business, in what could be one of the largest transactions in Europe this year.

Nestlé, which is being advised by Linklaters corporate partners David Martin and Michael Honan, confirmed talks with EQT in May following a competitive auction process with rival buyout funds and industry players all eager to make the acquisition. The group of investors includes Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Legal Business

International round-up: Greenberg Traurig enters Italy through Milan merger as Latham goes big in Japan

International round-up: Greenberg Traurig enters Italy through Milan merger as Latham goes big in Japan

Greenberg Traurig is to open its fifth European office via the acquisition of a Milan boutique and the hire of two veterans from the Italian branch of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The US firm announced yesterday (16 May) that as of July the northern Italian city will become the location of its 40th office worldwide while its European lawyer headcount will hit 300.

It has merged with its 30-lawyer Italian ally of 14 years, Santa Maria Studio Legale and hired Freshfields Italy real estate head Marzio Longo and finance partner Corrado Angelelli. Luigi Santa Maria and Mario Santa Maria will serve as co-managing partners of the office, which will be known as Greenberg Traurig Santa Maria. Santa Maria Studio Legale was founded more than 50 years ago and operates in competition, litigation, M&A and finance. It signed an alliance with Greenberg in 2005.

Greenberg’s Milan launch follows London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Warsaw. Its relatively conservative European expansion has been unusual path US firms, usually more focused on the continent’s larger financial centres of Paris and Frankfurt.

Italy has traditionally been a complicated market for UK and US players, with their models hard to combine with a market largely dominated by a small group of veterans more inclined to run their own independent firms than take orders from abroad. However, relatively recent entrants including Latham & Watkins, Linklaters, White & Case and Dentons have built successful niches in the market.

‘This is a unique opportunity given our close relationship with Studio Santa Maria and its highly regarded place in the Italian market,’ said Greenberg executive chairman Richard Rosenbaum. ‘For more than 50 years, we have guarded our unified, collaborative, and non-bureaucratic culture as we have grown, maintaining our core values of excellence and sincere respect and trust of the individuals on the ground in all our locations. This unique combination has resulted in a broad and deep platform while retaining the feeling of empowerment and ability to change.’

Meanwhile, Latham has doubled the partner headcount of its Tokyo office. The firm has added corporate partners Ivan Smallwood, Noah Carr, and Stuart Beraha from the Japanese arm of Morrison & Foerster.

‘The Japanese market, with its sophisticated global needs, continues to be very important to our platform,’ said Latham chair and managing partner Rich Trobman. ‘Ivan, Noah, and Stuart are a cohesive team who will add momentum to an already powerful practice, serving leading multinationals to fast-growth startups across the Pacific Rim and around the world, spanning diverse industries from financial services to technology.’

Japanese M&A deals surged last year. Japanese companies were involved in 430 deals for a total value of $214bn in 2018, more than double the total for 2017 and the highest since records began in 1980, according to Mergermarket.

Legal Business

The head, the tail, the whole damn thing: UK firms suffer again as Global London sharks circle

The head, the tail, the whole damn thing: UK firms suffer again as Global London sharks circle

With recent financial results displaying the added bite of US firms in the City, it appears their approach to the lateral recruitment market will continue to be just as aggressive. Paul Hastings continued to signal its M&A ambitions with the hire of Steven Bryan from Hogan Lovells, while Latham & Watkins proved again it is one of the biggest predators of the City elite after hiring Linklaters insurance partner Victoria Sander.

For Paul Hastings, the hire of Bryan is of little surprise. The firm has made no secret of its ambition to strengthen in public M&A and private equity, as seen last spring with the hires of Roger Barron from Linklaters and private equity star Anu Balasubramanian from DLA Piper. The addition of Bryan, meanwhile, sees another highly-rated M&A practitioner leave for a US firm – an area widely considered the last bastion of the institutional City firms.

Legal Business

US firms strike in the City again as Latham hits Links and Paul Hastings taps Hogan Lovells

US firms strike in the City again as Latham hits Links and Paul Hastings taps Hogan Lovells

Latham & Watkins has once again hit the Magic Circle to expand beyond its traditional transactional heartlands in the City, recruiting Linklaters insurance partner Victoria Sander.

Paul Hastings has also made the latest in a series of London hires, with former Hogan Lovells M&A infrastructure and energy partner Steven Bryan starting at the US firm this week.

A Linklaters lifer, Sander started at the Silk Street firm in 1995. Mandates she acted on during more than two decades there include leading the team on Legal & General’s £1.1bn acquisition of the Vickers Group Pension Scheme.

She will join Latham at the end of next month. Her hire is the latest in a series of London acquisitions for the Los Angeles-bred giant, which at the beginning of the month reported an 11% revenue hike to $3.386bn in 2018.

In spring last year, Carl Fernandes made the switch from Linklaters to become the fourth regulatory partner to join Latham in less than two years.

Later last year Latham also targeted Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance to secure the services of two of the highest profile names in the City’s infrastructure private equity space, Conrad Andersen and Brendan Moylan.

However the firm suffered a rare loss at the beginning of 2019 as banking co-head Chris Kandel moved to Morrison & Foerster.

Meanwhile, Paul Hastings has continued its expansive trajectory of late. Bryan’s clients at Hogan Lovells included Brookfield, ENRC and Equinor.

Bryan, who is moving to Paul Hastings with two associates, told Legal Business: ‘I was impressed with the quality of the firm, the partners and previous lateral hires, particularly Roger [Barron] and Anu [Balasubramanian]. The platform has probably been under the wire in London but it’s a highly successful firm and has a very clear ambition. It’s not a huge firm so there is a lot of room for partners to be entrepreneurial. It is very focused on building a leading energy and infrastructure practice in London which I will help to lead, starting with the corporate capability and then moving across projects and finance.’

Paul Hastings went on a hiring spree in spring last year, tapping Linklaters for M&A heavyweight Barron and DLA Piper for private equity star Balasubramanian.

The US firm increased its London revenue 14% and global turnover 9% last year, while profit per equity partner broke the $3m mark, rising 12% to $3.25m.