September 17, 2010 6:45 PM
Dealmaker of the Week: Jane Goldstein of Ropes & Gray
Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.
Ropes & Gray partner Jane Goldstein believes in the power of keeping relationships percolating. And this week's announcement that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters will buy Montreal-based beanery Van Houtte from private equity firm Littlejohn for $890 million is a good example of why.
Goldstein led the way on the deal, the fourth Green Mountain acquisition she has steered to completion in the past two years. It's an impressive run of work, one that all started with a contact Goldstein made two decades ago at yet another Vermont-based company.
In 1989, shortly after joining Ropes as an associate, Goldstein was assigned to work on a tax matter for Ben & Jerry's. She worked closely with the company's then CFO, Frances Rathke, to help the ice cream maker launch a line of products that would in part raise money for charity (the line includes the popular ice cream bar "Peace Pops").
Rathke left Ben & Jerry's about a decade later when it was acquired by Unilever, but Goldstein's relationship with her continued. "Obviously, we weren't talking every day like we used to, but we kept in touch," says Goldstein, who lives in Boston and owns a vacation home in Vermont. Then, in 2003, Rathke landed at Green Mountain Coffee, ultimately filling the CFO slot.
When, in 2006, the roaster planned to acquire Keurig Inc., a maker of single-cup home brewing machines, Rathke tapped Goldstein to handle the deal. There have been plenty of work refills since then, as Green Mountain has closed on several acquisitions in recent years. The deals started with the purchase of Tully's Coffee Corporation in 2009. That same year, Green Mountain paid $165 million for Timothy's Coffees of the World, Inc., and it issued a public offering of four million shares of common stock.
Last December, Goldstein, who heads up Ropes's retail and consumer brands group, advised Green Mountain in its $290 million takeover of California-based Diedrich Coffee, prevailing after an intense monthlong battle with Peet's Coffee & Tea Inc.
The latest transaction for Van Houtte is "nothing like that," Goldstein says. The only challenges are typical cross-border legal issues that arise between U.S. and Canadian entities.
These moves all are part of Green Mountain's strategy, announced last year, to buy up several coffee makers that utilize its single-serving cup technology.
Since signing on Green Mountain as a client, Goldstein has seen the company grow from a market capitalization of roughly $300 million to over $4.6 billion today.
"For me, personally, it's been such a great client because I've really been able to grow with [Rathke and Green Mountain general counsel Howard Malovany] and be part of their team," Goldstein says. "Often, as outside counsel, you do a deal and then you don't talk to the [client], but I've been really fortunate to be very close with them."