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August 25, 2011 3:27 PM

Willkie, Skadden Advise on Bloomberg LP's $990 Million Legal Research Buy

Posted by Brian Baxter

Two top Am Law 100 firms are working on a deal that will see closely held Bloomberg L.P. acquire The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), a private and independently owned provider of information to clients in government, business, and academia. The deal is the largest acquisition in Bloomberg's 30-year history, according to The New York Times.

Bloomberg, a New York–based media and financial data company founded by current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will acquire all the outstanding shares of Arlington, Va.–based BNA, which is owned by its current and former employees. Bloomberg said in a press release announcing the $990 million all cash deal that the transaction—which according to the Times, translates to $39.90 per BNA share—will enhance its capacity for legal, tax, and regulatory research and analysis.

A Bloomberg spokesman says that Willkie Farr & Gallagher, longtime outside counsel to Bloomberg, is advising the company on the acquisition. The Willkie team is being led by corporate partner Maurice Lefkort, according to a source close to the deal. Lefkort, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, advised Bloomberg three years ago on its $4.4 billion purchase of a 20 percent minority interest in the company held by Merrill Lynch.

Lefkort and Willkie also advised Bloomberg on its October 2009 acquisition of BusinessWeek magazine from The McGraw-Hill Companies, which is currently facing pressure from two activist investors seeking a breakup of the publishing giant. Willkie corporate partner Richard DeScherer, who also worked on the BNA buy but declined to comment on the deal, serves as principal outside counsel to Bloomberg and is a member of the company's board of directors.

Willkie counsels Bloomberg on corporate, litigation, IP, and labor and employment matters, and last week secured a big victory for one of its largest clients when a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the company did not engage in a pattern of discriminating against women after they returned from paternity leave. (Bloomberg's general counsel is Karl Kilb III.)

BNA has turned to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for outside counsel on the sale. Global transactions practice cohead Michael Rogan and M&A partner Marc Gerber in Washington, D.C., are leading a team from the firm working on the matter. Eunice Lin serves as general counsel to BNA, which publishes books, newsletters, research reports, and other reference products that cover economic, health care, labor, tax, and other public policy and regulatory issues.

The deal, which is expected to close later this year, is part of Bloomberg's push to expand its offerings through its ubiquitous--and highly profitable--namesake terminals.

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