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March 22, 2011 2:24 PM

Five Firms Take Lead on Liberty Global's $5 Billion German Cable Buy

Posted by Brian Baxter

Cable giant Liberty Global agreed to pay almost $5 billion to Swedish private equity firm EQT Partners to take over Kabel Baden-Württemberg, Germany's third-largest cable operator.

Englewood, Colo.-based Liberty Global, which is controlled by cable pioneer John Malone, turned to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Ropes & Gray for outside counsel on the proposed purchase.

In November 2009, both firms advised Liberty Global when it acquired Unitymedia, Germany's second-largest cable company, for $5.2 billion from private equity firms BC Partners and Apollo Management. Liberty Global's general counsel is Elizabeth Markowski and the head of the company's European in-house legal operations is Ton Tuijten.

Freshfields, a product of mergers with two German firms a decade ago, is fielding a 15-lawyer team advising Liberty Global on the Kabel deal from its offices in London, Brussels, and Germany.

Corporate partner Michael Haidinger, IP and information technology partners Thomas Tschentscher and Andrea Lensing-Kramer, antitrust partner Michael Esser, finance partners Yorck Jetter and Jonathan Shann, tax partner Christian Sistermann, and employee benefits partner Jochen Lessmann are leading the team from the Magic Circle firm.

Ropes high-yield debt partner W. Jane Rogers, finance partner Tania Bedi, and London office co-managing partners Maurice Allen and Michael Goetz are leading an 11-lawyer team from the firm advising Liberty Global on financing matters related to the Kabel deal.

Allen and Goetz left Freshfields in October 2009 to open Ropes's new London office. The banking and finance duo quit Freshfields the previous August, only 18 months after joining the firm from White & Case. After bringing both lawyers aboard, Ropes steadily built up its London operations, which the firm credits for helping it advise Liberty Global on the Kabel transaction.

"It's [a credit] to the team we have built in London that we are able to assist Liberty Global in yet another jumbo telecom-financing acquisition," Rogers said in a statement. "With a completely London-based team, we are able to provide a fully integrated finance offering, which is what large, sophisticated clients such as Liberty Global want and need."

Ropes advised on the high-yield debt offering and related funding arrangements. Bloomberg reports that Kabel immediately plans to issue 2.25 billion euros in new debt financing in order to recapitalize. Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and JPMorgan Chase are leading on the financing and are being represented by Allen & Overy's Philip Bowden, Latham & Watkins's Scott Colwell, and Shearman & Sterling's Stephan Hutter.

EQT put Heidelberg, Germany-based Kabel on the block in recent months, as the company's sales reportedly increased 120 percent since The Blackstone Group sold it in 2006.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore corporate partner Philip Boeckman, who heads his firm's London office, is advising EQT on the deal. EQT's internal legal and compliance director is Meena Ambardar. Also representing the private equity firm on its sale of Kabel are Clifford Chance and German firm Hengeler Mueller, according to Bloomberg.

Clifford Chance M&A partner Arndt Stengel, antitrust partner Marc Besen, finance partners Christopher Kellett and Claudie Grisius, and corporate counsel Susanne Langer and Lars Benger in Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Luxembourg are advising EQT, which has turned to the firm for funds work.

Stockholm-based EQT also tapped Hengeler corporate partner Christian Möller for German counsel on the Kabel sale. Hengeler previously advised EQT on the sale of its stake in German engine maker Tognum to Daimler, which last week formed a joint venture to buy out the rest of the company in a $4.4 billion deal.

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