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July 28, 2009 1:23 PM

Cravath, Mayer Brown Advise on IBM, SPSS Merger

Posted by Brian Baxter

After advising Bristol-Myers Squibb on its $2.4 billion acquisition of drug maker Medarex last week, Cravath, Swaine & Moore has to be happy that the firm's M&A clients are making deals once again.

On Tuesday longtime client IBM, the world's largest provider of computer services, announced it would acquire analytics software maker SPSS for $1.2 billion in cash.

IBM turned to its go-to M&A lawyer, Cravath corporate partner Scott Barshay, to help close the deal. In the past few years alone Barshay has advised the Armonk, N.Y.-based computer giant on its $1.3 billion acquisition of Internet Security Systems in August 2006, purchase of Internet security firm Watchfire in June 2007, and $5 billion acquisition of Ottawa-based business intelligence firm Cognos in January 2008, the largest M&A deal in IBM's history.

Earlier this year Barshay was reportedly retained when IBM kicked the tires of Sun Microsystems, a deal that later collapsed when the companies failed to agree on a share price. (Oracle stepped in and bought Sun in April for $7.4 billion.)

On the SPSS acquisition, Barshay was assisted by executive compensation partner Jennifer Conway, tax partner Andrew Needham, and associates Sophia Tawil, Mike Dallas, M.C. Tania Balthazaar, Kerry Halpern-Skoglund, J. Leonard Teti II, and summer associate Jisoo Kim. IBM senior counsel Mark Goldstein led an in-house team on the deal.

Mayer Brown M&A partners Frederick "Fritz" Thomas and William Kucera advised Chicago-based SPSS on the deal along with associate Ryan Lawrence. The firm has handled capital markets and litigation work for the company in the past. SPSS associate general counsel Tony Ciro and Erin McQuade led an in-house legal team on the deal.

SPSS's data analysis technology appealed to IBM, which wants to move into predicting and anticipating market trends for corporate clients.

IBM's dealmaking capacity took a hit in May when the company's former M&A chief, David Johnson, defected for rival Dell. Cravath is representing IBM in the litigation stemming from Johnson's departure, but lost a first round in the fight in late June.

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