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July 16, 2010 5:34 PM

Big Deal Week for Cream of Am Law 200 Crop

Posted by Brian Baxter

CORRECTION: July 19, 10:35 a.m. The eighth paragraph of this post previously misidentified the firms advising on the gas project sale. We regret the error.

Maybe all it took for the transaction train to get back on track again was to speed past the halfway point of the year. That's our guess from all M&A the activity this past week, which saw more than 20 noteworthy deals announced. Several Am Law 200 stalwarts picked up assignments for corporate clients.

Deals Big and Small for Sullivan & Cromwell

As noted by The Am Law Daily on Thursday, Sullivan & Cromwell advised vitamin maker NBTY in its $3.8 billion private equity takeover by The Carlyle Group. But the firm also represented the private equity arm of Goldman Sachs--S&C took the lead for the financial services giant on its $550 million SEC settlement--in the year's largest European buyout.

On July 15, Goldman and TPG Capital announced they would pay $1.5 billion to buy Belgian diaper maker Ontex from London-based private equity firm Candover Investments. S&C corporate partners Tim Emmerson and Nikolaos Andronikos teamed up with finance partner Craig Jones, tax partners Michael McGowan and Eric Wang, and antitrust partner Juan Rodriguez on the deal. (Ashurst corporate partners Simon Beddow and David Carter advised Candover, while TPG turned to a team from Ropes & Gray.)

Earlier this week, S&C dealmaker Frank Aquila, M&A partner Audra Cohen, tax partner Ronald Creamer, employee benefits partner Matthew Friestedt, and antitrust partner Yvonne Quinn advised cosmetics company Avon Products on its $650 million acquisition of sterling silver jewelry seller Silpada, advised by Lathrop & Gage's Mark Bluhm. S&C was recommended to Avon general counsel Kim Rucker, who worked with the firm when she was in-house at former electric utility TXU. (Honorable mention to S&C's Cohen, who led on both the NBTY and Avon deals--a lot of heavy lifting in just one week.)

S&C lawyers also handled three smaller deals this week. Belgian industrial printer and filmmaker Agfa Gevaert turned to Aquila to advise on its $80 million acquisition of the Pitman Company, a Totowa, N.J.-based graphic arts supplier. M&A partner Mark Menting, Creamer, and Friestedt represented Smithtown Bancorp on its $60 million acquisition by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett client People's United Financial, as the regional bank operator announced expansion plans on July 15. And Billabong, the popular Australian clothing company, turned to Creamer, Friestedt, finance partners Hydee Feldstein and Erik Lindauer, and M&A partner Stephen Kotran for its $26 million purchase of California-based apparel maker RVCA.

The Wall Street Journal reports that S&C is one of three firms--along with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Arnold & Porter--hired by Chinese networking and telecommunications supplier Huawei Technologies to pursue U.S. deals. (National security concerns have hampered the Shenzhen-based company's U.S. initiatives in the past.)

What Didn't Weil Work On?

Weil, Gotshal & Manges has been just as busy. M&A partners Michael Aiello and Joseph Verdesca led a team from the firm advising property and casualty insurance firm ProSight on its acquisition of marine insurer NYMagic for $230 million on July 15. Weil client TPG and Goldman's merchant banking unit own ProSight.

Aiello also took the lead representing GE Energy Financial Services--the energy investing unit of longtime Weil client General Electric--on its July 16 sale of a gas project in Port Barre, La., to Spectra Energy for $540 million. King & Spalding energy transactions partner Juan-Pablo "John" Crespo in Houston led a team from the firm advising private equity fund Haddington Energy Partners, which also had a stake in the project. Spectra was advised by Vinson & Elkins.

Weil also scored the work advising Texas Instruments on its July 14 acquisition of two chip factories from the Japanese unit of Spansion, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based flash memory maker that filed for bankruptcy last year. M&A partner R. Scott Cohen in Dallas led the firm's team on the TI transaction, the terms of which were undisclosed.

The firm also snared a role advising the Atlanta-based insurance brokerage Swett & Crawford Group on the completion of its $3.5 billion merger with London's Cooper Gay on July 12. Corporate partner Glenn West--taking a break from selling Tom Hicks's sports teams--led a Weil team working on the deal.

A Couple More from the Am Law 100

Of course, the corporate lawyers from The Am Law 100's most profitable firm, when calculated by profits per equity partner, also have been putting in extra hours.

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz corporate partners Edward Herlihy, Richard Kim, and David Shapiro, executive compensation partner Jeannemarie O'Brien, and tax partner Joshua Holmes represented Boston-based NBH Holdings on the acquisition of the commercial and retail banking businesses of Bank Midwest. The transaction covers 38 Bank Midwest branch offices with about $3 billion in assets. Bank Midwest is a subsidiary of Kansas City, Mo.-based Dickinson Financial.

Skadden remained atop the first-half M&A rankings for law firms, according to Bloomberg data, working on $100 billion in deals. Earlier this month the head of the firm's Skadden office, Pierre Servan-Schreiber, together with tax partner Philippe Derouin, advised Italian airlined Alitalia on joining a $10 billion trans-Atlantic alliance with Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines.

Dewey & LeBoeuf, Latham & Watkins, Davis Polk & Wardwell, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison also scored roles on three different deals.

Latham corporate partner Antonio Del Pino, antitrust partner Michael Egge, tax partners Nicholas DeNovio and Laurence Stein, employee benefits partner Jed Brickner, and IP partner Jeffrey Tochner advised GE Capital on the $1.9 billion sale of its Central American banking arm BAC Credomatic to Colombia's Grupo Aval, advised by a team of Davis Polk lawyers led by corporate partner Paul Kinglsey in New York. The deal involved local counsel in 10 countries.

Dewey M&A and technology partners Richard Climan, Eric Reifschneider, and Jane Ross--who decamped from Cooley a year ago--acted as U.S. counsel to Japan's Sanyo Electric on the $366 million sale of its semiconductor business to Phoenix-based ON Semiconductor, which was advised by Morrison & Foerster.

And Paul Weiss M&A partner Paul Ginsberg and tax partner Jeffrey Samuels advised Automatic Data Processing on its agreement to acquire Seattle-based Internet marketing company Cobalt for $400 million in cash on July 9.

 

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