Leverage starts to resurface in dormant market

Liberty Global’s $23.3bn acquisition of Virgin Media and Dell’s proposed $24.4bn leveraged buyout have deal finance advisers asking whether this is a signal that leveraged buyout deals are making a comeback.

The pair of mega deals were announced last month within weeks of each other and have handed roles to a raft of advisers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Virgin Media turned to New York firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson for M&A advice, with senior counsel Arthur Fleischer Jr on the US corporate side and London corporate partner Richard May on the UK aspects.
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Stepping Up – Clifford Chance’s corporate revolution

Clifford Chance’s corporate practice had a stonking year in 2012, rocketing up the league tables and scoring roles on four of the ten largest M&A deals globally. Little wonder Matthew Layton was handed a second four-year term at the helm. Vive la revolution.

By anyone’s measure, Clifford Chance (CC) had a stupendous year for M&A work in 2012, appearing on four of the ten largest deals that took place worldwide and ranking second at year-end by deal value, up from 22nd two years ago. According to mergermarket, CC worked on 197 announced deals with a combined value of £156bn, nudging ahead of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and relegating Linklaters to fifth in the league tables.

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TNK-BP takeover saga ends in largest Russian deal ever

The ongoing battle over what was to become of Russian oil joint venture (JV) TNK-BP finally concluded at the end of 2012, in one of the largest M&A deals of the year. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Linklaters all played lead roles on TNK-BP’s multibillion-dollar sale to Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft in December.

The deal has made Rosneft, advised by Cleary, the largest listed oil company in the world. However BP, represented by Linklaters, still has an almost 20% stake in the company after negotiating a cash plus shares sale worth $27bn. Continue reading “TNK-BP takeover saga ends in largest Russian deal ever”

Trowers unveils new strategy as Adlington bows out

Trowers & Hamlins senior partner elect Jennie Gubbins has told LB that she is looking to raise the firm’s corporate profile in the City and repair its ailing international offering after a bruising few years.

The firm’s current senior partner, Jonathan Adlington, has announced that he will be retiring next year. Gubbins, currently head of corporate at the firm, will replace him in March 2013.

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Taking over

Corporate trends were the talk of the hour at the third annual LB round table discussion in conjunction with McCann FitzGerald. But what does 2012 have in store for the corporate lawyer?

Creativity levels among global corporate lawyers appear to be at an all time high. With the eurozone crisis looming over the global M&A market, the new Takeover Code and the huge swathes of restructuring and refinancing work still to come through to the marketplace, never before have corporate lawyers had to think so differently.

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Corporate review – Welcome back to the new normal

The overall success of M&A in 2012 hinges on the eurozone but there is much to be positive about, you just have to be prepared for a scrap

Confidence is a funny thing. During the first eight working days of this year, there was a sense that 2012 was going to be different. Deals had to be done, investors had to get their hands out of their pockets. Renewed optimism or even hope seemed to be a welcome antidote to the relentless doom and gloom that dominated the media for much of 2011. But then on Friday the 13th of January, talks collapsed over the restructuring of the Greek government’s debt and the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the debt of nine eurozone countries, including France. The new-year optimism vanished overnight.

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Dual Core

With the number of large-scale tech M&A deals increasing in 2011, some believe that another technology bubble is forming. Following the coalition government’s pledge to help the developing local tech sector at Silicon Roundabout, LB finds out how law firms are placing their bets, and who is getting ahead of the game.

All eyes in the legal community are firmly fixed on East London. Taylor Wessing’s October move to open a second London office in Tech City, located near the Old Street roundabout, renews focus by commercial law firms on the technology scene, and signals a flourishing of the UK’s tech sector.

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Power Surge

Energy clients are dictating law firms’ strategic direction and hiring policies. For now at least, energy is king. LB finds out why.

On the last day of August ExxonMobil dominated the business pages, when news broke of its $3.2bn Arctic exploration deal with Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft. The story surprised energy specialists – a similar deal between BP and Rosneft was previously scuppered by TNK-BP, the partners in BP’s existing joint venture in Russia. The UK oil major suffered a double hit that day, when it was revealed that bailiffs had raided its offices in Moscow, linked to a case brought by TNK-BP shareholders over the failed Arctic deal with Rosneft.

These events attracted significant media attention, not just for the energy companies concerned but also the law firms involved. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which ironically advised BP on its failed deal with Rosneft, was now advising Rosneft in the deal with ExxonMobil. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld was advising the US oil major.

Deals and (more often than not) disputes between the energy giants and local incumbents have attracted significant interest in the press in recent years but it is also an inescapable fact that clients of the energy practices at some of the world’s largest law firms have dictated global growth strategies.


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Redrawing the map

The latest boom in transactional work from emerging economies is a welcome antidote to difficult home markets for international firms. LB looks at the differing approaches to growth and who the clients of the future might be

It is easy to understand how law firms get carried away by the opportunities that new, emerging markets present. In the past five years there has been a rush to set up offices in places that a generation ago would have held little attraction. The shift of transactional power has now fundamentally moved to emerging economies led by Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC countries). Continue reading “Redrawing the map”