Legal Business

Dealwatch: Slaughters leads on Hong Kong’s £32bn LSE bid as US firms tap into mid-market

Dealwatch: Slaughters leads on Hong Kong’s £32bn LSE bid as US firms tap into mid-market

Strategic deals have continued into September after a busy summer, with firms rallying to get deals over the line before a Brexit cliff-edge threatens to become a reality.

Slaughter and May has landed a mandate to advise Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) on a bid which, if successful, would see it acquire the London Stock Exchange (LSE) for £32bn. Partner David Watkins is leading the Slaughters team.

The proposed transaction has already sparked controversy around competition concerns as well as HKEX’s condition that any takeover would be conditional on LSE scrapping its planned $27bn acquisition of financial data business Refinitiv, a deal that was abnnounced in July.

The board of LSE yesterday (11 September) issued a statement describing the proposed acquisition by HKEX as ‘unsolicited, preliminary and highly conditional,’ confirming it continued to make good progress on the Refinitiv deal. A Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer team led by partners Andrew Hutchings and Stephen Hewes are advising LSE on the Refinitiv deal and is likely to be mandated on this latest transaction.

Meanwhile Weil, Gotshal & Manges is advising Campbell’s Soup Company on the sale of its European chips business which includes Kettle Chips and Metcalfe’s skinny popcorn to Dublin-based Valeo Foods for $80m.

The Weil team was led by corporate partners Michael Aiello, James Harvey and Mike Francies. Partners Joe Pari, Chayim Neubort and Oliver Walker are advising on the tax while partner Barry Fishley is advising on intellectual property and technology.

CapVest and its portfolio company Valeo Foods were advised by a Willkie Farr & Gallagher team led by David Arnold and included associates Andrew Gray, Amelia Doughty, Michael Grant and Gabriella Denlew. Partner Jane Scobie led on the tax aspects.

In 2017, Campbell’s bought Kettle Chips producer Snyder’s-Lane for $4.87bn. The transaction is part of the company’s strategy to focus on its core products of canned soup and snacks. This deal follows Campbell’s sale of Danish manufacturer of baked snacks Kelsen Group to Belgian holding company CTH Invest for $300m.

Campbell’s will retain the Kettle brand business in the US and other area, while Valeo takes control of its UK, Europe and Middle East operation.

Weil has advised Campbell’s on a number of transactions this year, namely the recent sale of KKR to Arnott’s. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, regulatory approvals and consultations and is expected to close at the end of this year.

Elsewhere, Paul Hastings advised private equity firm Oakley Capital on its investment in the Italian high-end homeware business Alessi.

The Paul Hastings team was led by Anu Balasubramanian and included corporate associates David Prowse and Aimée Fabri from the London office and Juljan Puna and Giulia Fiorelli from the Milan office while Gatti Pavesi Bianchi advised on the financing aspects of the transaction.

Balasubramanian told Legal Business: ‘Given the macroeconomic climate in Europe and the political environment across the board with Brexit, I think there is concern that both the capital line as well as potential opportunities may not dry up necessarily but everything is going to potentially become a little more difficult. People are trying to get deals over the line which is probably why we had the busiest summer.’

Alessi was advised by a team from Italian firm Gattai, Minoli, Agostinelli Partners led by corporate partner Bruno Gattai and includes partners Federico BalRiccardo Agostinelli, Andrea Taurozzi and associates Jacopo Bennard and Jacopo Ceccherini.

Paul Hastings has advised Oakley Capital on its acquisition of EkonVideotel and Seagull as well as their joint venture with Admiral and Mapfre to acquire Rastreator and Acierto.

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Paul Hastings and Slaughters react on nuclear sale as Magic Circle duo imbibes Greene King takeover

Dealwatch: Paul Hastings and Slaughters react on nuclear sale as Magic Circle duo imbibes Greene King takeover

August has proved to be active with big-ticket deals prompting inbound investment to the UK with the disposal of John Wood Group’s nuclear business to US-based Jacobs Engineering Group, as well as the sale of Greene King to Hong Kong’s CKA Group.

Paul Hastings advised Jacobs Engineering Group on its acquisition of John Wood Group’s nuclear business in the UK, Europe and the Far East for a cash consideration of roughly £250m.

The deal is part of Wood’s strategy to offload its non-core areas and to lower its debt levels following its acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler in 2017. The deal is subject to conditions including competition clearance and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Jacobs, a New York Stock Exchange listed company, is a provider of technical services and has an expansion strategy for its complementary areas of aerospace, technology and nuclear.

The Paul Hastings team, led by London-based M&A partner Roger Barron, included managing partner Ronan O’Sullivan and M&A partner Matthew Poxon, both in London.

John Wood Group was advised on the transaction by a Slaughter and May team led by corporate partners Simon Nicholls and Filippo de Falco and included competition partners Lisa Wright and Bertrand Louveaux, pension and employment partners Padraig Cronin and Daniel Schaffer as well as data protection partner Rebecca Cousin.

Barron told Legal Business: ‘This is just the sort of deal that I joined Paul Hastings to do – transatlantic M&A for a major US company, where we can provide the sector expertise as well as deal execution capability on both sides of the pond.

‘Jacobs has a very clear strategy for using M&A to expand into profitable and complementary areas. This is seen as a good business and works well with their existing strategy. For this deal about 90% of the business is UK. You could see this as a US company being confident in the prospects of a UK business,’ added Barron.

Meanwhile, Linklaters won a lead mandate advising pub giant Greene King on its proposed £2.7bn sale to Hong Kong real estate group CKA, with Clifford Chance (CC) advising the buyer.

The 220 year old Suffolk-based brewery has around 2,700 pubs, restaurants and hotels nationally. Its acquisition follows the takeover of Ei Group by Stonegate Pub for £1.3m last month.

The Linklaters team was led by corporate partners Dan Schuster-Woldan and Nick Rumsby while Lee Coney and Nick Rees led the CC team which also included Alex Nourry (antitrust), Sonia Gilbert (employment) and Matt Taylor (real estate).

Norton Rose Fulbright advised HSBC, the financial adviser to CK Asset Holdings. CKA has agreed to the terms of the acquisition which include a 51% premium on the value of Greene King through its recently formed Cayman Islands based subsidiary CK Bidco.

The Norton Rose team was led by corporate partner Paul Whitelock.

Elsewhere a Ropes & Gray London team, led by private equity partner Philip Sanderson and finance partner Malcolm Hitching, advised private equity firm Duke Street on the acquisition of railway holiday provider, Vacation by Rail.

The US acquisition, funded partially by English law governed facilities, brought together the firm’s English and US law expertise. The deal follows the acquisition of Great Rail Journeys, escorted rail holiday provider, by Duke Street Capital from ECI a year ago.

Andrew Arons at Williams, Bax and Saltzman in Chicago acted for the sellers.

Sanderson told Legal Business: ‘The deal reflects an important trend of PE backed businesses like GRJ seeking growth in the US. This has become increasingly important for ambitious mid-market businesses where a strong European platform is proven and allows PE to support the next step into the US. We are regularly helping businesses in this way.

“The European summer deal market has been favourable for few in PE. The paucity of deals has naturally combined with high price for the deals that do come to market. The B word has left the market as uncertain as it has been for many years and so bolt ons for PE have become a popular means to generate activity from within the portfolio. Better what you know, is a factor in that, as well as the potential for economies and bargains from smaller strategically important deals.’

Legal Business

Paul Hastings targets private equity again with Hogan Lovells trio

Paul Hastings targets private equity again with Hogan Lovells trio

Paul Hastings has made a significant private equity play at the expense of Hogan Lovells, hiring a three-partner transatlantic team.

Ed Harris – who led Hogan Lovell’s private equity practice in the City – joins alongside Leanne Moezi in London, while Virginia-based partner Adam Brown joins Paul Hastings’ Washington office.

Harris had been at Hogan Lovells since 2013 after joining from SJ Berwin and was one of only three private equity transactional partners in the UK, having forged lucrative relationships with clients such as private equity house Pantheon Ventures.

Moezi also brings experience advising private equity houses, companies and financial institutions and was well-regarded at Hogan Lovells. In 2018, M&A and private equity accounted for 23% of the Hogan Lovell’s total revenue.

The trio are set to be reunited with former Hogan Lovells M&A partner Steven Bryan who decamped to Paul Hastings in March. Last year, the firm tapped Linklaters for M&A veteran Roger Barron and hired private equity rising star Anu Balasubramanian (pictured) from DLA Piper, with expansion in transactional practices a defining part of the firm’s City recruitment strategy.

Balasubramanian told Legal Business: ‘We’ve been targeting the private equity space since the day I arrived. Ed and his team have a very good reputation in the market and the hires have a great overlap with our funds practice.’

Paul Hastings enjoyed strong revenue growth in its last financial year, as City revenue hiked 14% while global revenues rose 9%. Meanwhile, profit per equity partner broke the £3m barrier, rising 12% to $3.25m.

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.

Legal Business

‘Better than many’: Paul Hastings sees London revenue grow 14% as Milbank breaks $1bn barrier globally

‘Better than many’: Paul Hastings sees London revenue grow 14% as Milbank breaks $1bn barrier globally

Paul Hastings saw its strong revenue growth in London tempered slightly to 14% in 2018 in what remained a strong year for the US outfit.

The double-digit revenue increase in London is lower than last year’s 25% rise, however it outstrips the firm’s global growth figure of 9%, itself up from 4% last year. Profit per equity partner (PEP) meanwhile broke the $3m mark, rising 12% to $3.25m.

‘The figures in London exceed the growth figures globally and is better than many of our competitors,’ Paul Hastings’ London chair Arun Birla told Legal Business. ‘In London we’re focusing on the practices we are strong in globally and it’s proving successful.’

The figures mean Paul Hastings has seen a 25% increase in PEP over the last two years while both London headcount and revenue has doubled over the last five. Global equity partner numbers meanwhile remained fairly static over the last year, falling by three from 190 to 187.  The results also come as the firm made aggressive hires in the City last year, with former DLA Piper private equity partner Anu Balasubramanian and ex-Linklaters M&A partner Roger Barron proving the most defining hires for Paul Hastings in 2018.

‘We are proud to have our PEP break $3m,’ Birla added. ‘We are one of the few firms who can say we’ve reached that figure and its come as we continue to strengthen our team and practices.’

Meanwhile, nine successive years of revenue growth means Milbank has passed the $1bn mark in gross revenue for the first time, reaching $1.034bn after a 13% increase during 2018. This adds to the previously reported 25% hike in Milbank’s City turnover to $156m, matching the 25% growth the firm saw in continental Europe. The figures are a considerable increase on last year’s 9% growth in the City, when revenues reached $125m.

‘The stellar year in London reflects a number of things,’ Milbank’s London co-manager Julian Stait told Legal Business. ‘All our practice areas have had a spectacular year, in addition we started 2018 with two blockbuster hires with the four-partner team from Cadwalader combining with our existing restructuring practice to give us the pre-eminent restructuring practice in the City.’

The story of US firms in London this year has widely been one of further success, with White & Case, King & Spalding, Reed Smith and Akin Gump all producing strong City performances.

For more on Paul Hastings’ London ambitions, see ‘Still more promise than delivery but Paul Hastings shows signs of progress

Legal Business

Still more promise than delivery but Paul Hastings shows signs of progress

Still more promise than delivery but Paul Hastings shows signs of progress

Thomas Alan assesses the fortunes of the US giant after a (relatively) expansive 2018

Paul Hastings’ recent London history could be seen as a story of tempered ambitions. In the mid-2000s, the firm talked about hitting 200 lawyers in the City, while in 2012 the hope was to be at around 140 lawyers by 2016. With lawyer headcount only reaching 100 this year, it is clear that those lofty ambitions are hard to realise. However, between 2012 and 2017, the firm’s City headcount increased by 78%. If you aim high, falling short does not mean disaster.

Legal Business

Paul Hastings doubles up in the City as A&O loses global IP head to Kirkland

Paul Hastings doubles up in the City as A&O loses global IP head to Kirkland

Paul Hastings pulled off two headline lateral hires in London in a week as the US firm strengthens its corporate offering in the City.

Private equity rising star Anu Balasubramanian was the first hire announced, as DLA Piper lost another key dealmaker in the City. The addition will be a major boost to Paul Hastings’ City corporate and private equity practice, with Balasubramanian bringing experience in an array of mid-market work, acting for sponsors such as ABRY Partners, Accel-KKR, Oakley Capital and Aurium Capital Markets.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings lands Bakers FinReg veteran as Reed Smith hires City IP expert and Mayer Brown appoints Fried Frank’s UK finance head

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings lands Bakers FinReg veteran as Reed Smith hires City IP expert and Mayer Brown appoints Fried Frank’s UK finance head

In what has otherwise been a relatively subdued week for City laterals, Paul Hastings, Reed Smith and Mayer Brown have bolstered their London partner ranks with financial regulatory, intellectual property (IP) and finance hires respectively.

Paul Hastings continued its recruitment spree with the hire, announced today (11 June), of partner Arun Srivastava from Baker McKenzie, where he spent more than 22 years and headed its financial services regulatory group. He has also spent a year with the Financial Services Authority on secondment between 1999 and 2000.

Srivastava will now lead Paul Hastings’ London regulatory and fintech payments practice.

The hire comes as the firm looks to expand its London offering, having recently made two headline hires in the form of Linklaters’ M&A heavyweight Roger Barron and private equity star Anu Balasubramanian from DLA Piper.

Seth Zachary, chair of Paul Hastings, said: ‘Arun is one of the leading financial regulatory lawyers in London and will enhance our capabilities across our finance, fintech and payments, funds and transactional practices. It is central to our growth strategy in London that we attract the finest lawyers in their specialisms, and Arun’s practice and pedigree in the regulatory space will be extremely helpful for us.’

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-bred Reed Smith has hired Howard Womersley Smith as a partner in its London IP, tech and data practice from Cambridge tech law firm Taylor Vinters. He was previously a partner and head of fintech and data at that firm since 2015, acting for financial services providers on the customer and supply sides, as well as advising clients on data protection and GDPR compliance.

He had previously worked in-house at COLT Telecom and Standard Chartered Bank, where he was global head of legal and compliance for commercial and tech matters.

Cynthia O’Donoghue, head of international information technology at Reed Smith, said: ‘Howard brings with him a great depth of knowledge on current issues such as GDPR, as well as a true specialism in fintech and financial services which align perfectly with our sector focus at Reed Smith. Our IP, tech and data practice continues to experience a growing demand from clients across the global network.’

For its part, Mayer Brown is understood to have hired Fried Frank London finance head Stuart Brinkworth (pictured) to its City bench. Brinkworth joined Fried Frank from Hogan Lovells in 2015, tasked with building debt fund relationships with clients in London and supporting the firm’s private equity practice.

North of the border, TLT hired banking and finance partner Douglas Gourlay from Weighmans, where he led the UK real estate finance practice.

Mayer Brown also announced two US hires from Morgan Lewis aimed at bolstering the firm’s offering to Japanese clients. Satoru Murase joins the firm’s New York corporate and securities practice. He advises on a range of M&A, litigation and finance matters, having also acted on employment and government relations matters.

Yoshihide Ito, who specialises in international trade policy, economic trade sanctions and trade disputes, will join Mayer Brown’s Washington DC government and global trade practice.

Philip Brandes, co-leader of Mayer Brown’s corporate and securities practice, said: ‘As Japanese companies navigate global markets, they seek lawyers well-versed in cross-border investment, litigation and regulatory matters. Satoru and Yoshi check all the boxes.’

King & Spalding hired Marc-Olivier Langlois to its trial and global disputes practice in Paris from Hughes Hubbard & Reed, where he was co-chair of the firm’s construction disputes group.

Langlois is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) task force on maximising the probative value of witness evidence, and has acted on commercial arbitrations, pharmaceutical licencing and defence contracts.

In Asia, Orrick recruited at the expense of Dentons as Sarah Zeng joined the firm’s private equity practice in Beijing. Zeng had been managing partner of Denton’s Beijing office, and has previously worked in-house as general counsel of Chinese engine manufacturer Weichai Power. Zeng becomes the 18th partner to join Orrick’s global M&A practice since 2016, and the fourth in China in the past year.

Dentons meanwhile has secured an addition of its own, with the firm bringing in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) shared operations director Lisa Sewell as its new UK and Middle East managing director. Sewell had spent ten years at RBS, having also worked as head of bank-wide simplification, before leading a team of 7,500 across the UK, Poland and India.

Legal Business

Paul Hastings turns to Linklaters for hire of second City corporate heavyweight in a week

Paul Hastings turns to Linklaters for hire of second City corporate heavyweight in a week

An expansive Paul Hastings has made its second headline lateral in London in a week, this time at the expense of Linklaters.

M&A heavyweight Roger Barron is leaving the Magic Circle firm after more than 17 years as a partner, where he has acted on a number of key mandates.

These include advising National Grid on its £13.8bn sale of a 61% stake in its gas distribution business to a group of investors, as well as the £1.1bn acquisition and later £2.5bn disposal of National Grid Wireless.

He also notably advised on the £21bn proposed merger between London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse, which was later blocked by EU regulators.

Barron’s long list of clients also include Lendlease, Siemens, E.ON and BT.

‘The London legal market is in a dynamic state and I believe that Paul Hastings is particularly well placed to offer clients a truly transatlantic service,’ Barron said.

Paul Hastings chair Seth Zachary added: ‘This significant appointment underlines our focus and commitment to accelerate the growth of our M&A practice in London, and enhance our offering to the firm’s global clients.’

Traditionally underrated in the City compared to other aggressive US firms, Paul Hastings’ hire follows another key lateral just last week, bringing over DLA Piper deal star Anu Balasubramanian to lead its London private equity team.

Paul Hastings’ London office chair Ronan O’Sullivan told Legal Business that after investing heavily in its finance business over the years the firm wanted to ‘enhance our transactional engine room with talent of the highest order. Anu and Roger are both at the top of their game and are quite complementary in what they do’.

Hiring partners in mainstream M&A has traditionally been difficult for US firms, with client relationships trickier to bring over compared to the private equity space. But O’Sullivan said: ‘A lot of the clients Roger works for are active globally and part of our mission is to service clients in every geography with equal quality. Roger realised that in many ways US firms, and particularly ours, have the capacity to offer something that might not have been so obvious in his current firm. It’s really the clients driving this.’

With Balasubramanian and Barron joining over the summer, Paul Hastings will have a 15-strong transactional team, and O’Sullivan said the firm was looking to grow further.

It had also previously tapped Linklaters in 2015 for finance heavyweight David Ereira.

The firm’s City practice posted an eye-catching 25% revenue rise in 2017, adding to pressure on the UK elite.