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August 19, 2008 11:37 AM

Freshfields, Jenner, Skadden on General Dynamics' $2.25 Billion Jet Purchase

Posted by Zach Lowe

General Dynamics, the U.S. Navy's second-largest ship-builder and maker of the Gulfstream jet, spent $2.25 billion Tuesday to acquire Swiss-based Jet Aviation from a leading private equity firm.

The transaction, which is expected to help General Dynamics expand its corporate jet business, capped an expensive two days for the Virginia-based defense giant; the company agreed to pay the government $4 million to settle claims that a now-defunct unit fraudulently billed the Navy for defective aircraft parts.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer served as General Dynamics' lead counsel on the deal. London partner Martin Nelson-Jones led the Freshfields team, a General Dynamics spokesman says. Nelson-Jones did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Claude Lambert at Homburger in Zurich provided legal advice on the Swiss side of the deal. Jenner & Block, General Dynamics' regular outside counsel, also advised on the deal, says Robert Doolittle, the General Dynamics spokesman.

A team from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom advised Permira, the U.K. buyout firm that purchased Jet Aviation for an undisclosed sum in 2005. Allison Schneirov led the Skadden team along with Mark Smith, the firm says. Schneirov was not immediately available for comment.

Jet Aviation, which has about 5,600 employees, provides maintenance and other services for business jets and executive planes.

The market for Gulfstreams and other luxury jets is apparently thriving around the world even amid the slumping U.S. economy, Bloomberg reports. Gulfstream sales are up in Brazil, India and China as companies and the super-wealthy take advantage of the weak dollar, Bloomberg says.

General Dynamics' market value is up 3.7 percent since the start of the year; Gulfstream sales jumped 10 percent in the second quarter, Bloomberg reported.

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