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November 4, 2011 1:58 PM

With Shares Priced, Groupon IPO Pays Off for Winston, DLA

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: 11/8/11, 1:30 p.m. Underwriters on the Groupon IPO wracked up $42 million in fees, according to The New York Times, which notes Morgan Stanley led the way at $17.4 million.

While the daily-deals Web site's road to a $700 million initial public offering has been a rocky one, Winston & Strawn and DLA Piper have persevered and now stand to reap the benefits as Internet darling Groupon finally went public on Friday.

As it made its way to Wall Street, the Chicago-based company was forced in recent months to restate its revenues and disclose the methods by which it determines the number of deals purchased by customers. That was all ancient history by Friday, though, when, according to The New York Times, Groupon shares were pricing at more than $30 apiece, valuing the company at about $19 billion.

An SEC filing by Groupon this week lists the legal fees and expenses connected to the IPO at $2.5 million. The Am Law Daily reported in June, when the company first filed plans to go public with regulators, on the outside legal advisers set to reap those fees. Those attorneys include Winston corporate department chairman Steven Gavin, who, along with corporate partner Matthew Bergmann, is advising Groupon.

Peter Astiz, the global cohead of DLA's technology group, is leading a team from the firm advising underwriters on the IPO led by Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Morgan Stanley. Also heading up the DLA team: corporate securities partners Gregory Gallo and Jason Harmon. DLA also handles corporate work for Groupon, having previously advised the company on its acquisition of German startup Citydeal last year.

After a flood of IPOs earlier this year, the recent economic uncertainty caused by the European sovereign debt crisis has essentially shut down the IPO market in the United States. The IPO by Groupon, which rejected a $6 billion takeover by Google last year, has quieted some skeptics about the market for public offerings amid current stock market volatility. The Groupon offering is the second-largest technology IPO this year, trailing behind the $1.4 billion offering by Russian Internet company Yandex.

Groupon's general counsel is David Schellhase, who took over as the company's top in-house lawyer in June after it first filed papers to go public. Schellhase, who has worked at a number of technology start-ups, began his legal career as an associate at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison.

Groupon cofounder Eric Lefkofsky, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, made the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans this year with a net worth of $1.6 billion.

Lefkofsky's brother, Steven Lefkofsky, is a name partner at Farmington Hills, Michigan-based Lefkofsky & Gorosh. SEC filings by Groupon earlier this year show that the company paid the firm $200,000 for "legal services rendered" for three months of work ending this past March 31. Federal court records reveal that Lefkofsky & Gorosh has handled some litigation work for Groupon.

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