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March 20, 2012 3:58 PM

Simpson Thacher, Wilson Sonsini Advise on Law360's Sale to LexisNexis

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE, 3/21/12, 8:45 a.m. EST. Information on Thomson Reuters's acquisition of RedEgg has been added to the eleventh paragraph of this story.

In another deal that accelerates the consolidation of the legal news and information business, legal research service LexisNexis announced Tuesday that is will acquire Portfolio Media, the parent company of newswire Law360.

In a press release issued Tuesday morning, LexisNexis—a subsidiary of London-based publishing giant Reed Elsevier Group—stated that Law360 would continue to be run by cofounders Marius Meland and Magnus Hoglund as a stand-alone business within the LexisNexis family postacquisition.

"Breaking legal news and analysis are critical for legal professionals as they drive success for their businesses and clients," Bob Romeo, CEO of research and litigation solutions at LexisNexis, said in a statement announcing the deal. "Law360 is a key element of our growth strategy because it adds legal news and analysis, a crucial part of an attorney's workflow and a key entry point to legal research."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and a LexisNexis spokeswoman said the Dayton-based company was not commenting on the financial details of the acquisition. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett senior corporate partner D. Rhett Brandon in New York is advising LexisNexis on the Law360 acquisition, whose potential impact on readers had the legal blogosphere abuzz early Tuesday. (Law Technology News, a sibling publication, has more on the content integration aspects of Law360's sale.)

Reed Elsevier appointed Henry "Hank" Udow as its chief legal officer and company secretary last year following the retirement of predecessor Stephen Cowden. Udow, who was named one of the 20 most influential general counsel by sibling publication The National Law Journal in 2009, previously served as head of the in-house legal department for British confectioner Cadbury prior to its $19.7 billion acquisition by Kraft Foods in early 2010.

Udow and Sam Snider, lead acquisition counsel at LexisNexis, took the lead in-house advising on the company's purchase of Law360. Henry Horbaczewski serves as general counsel for Reed Elsevier's principal U.S. subsidiary, which is based in New York. Kenneth Thompson II serves as global chief legal officer for Reed Elsevier's LexisNexis unit.

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati M&A partner Warren de Wied and tax partner Michael Faber, the former chair of the tax department at now-defunct Heller Ehrman, are representing Law360 on its sale to LexisNexis. Robert Polsky serves as general counsel for Law360 parent Portfolio Media, which Meland and Hoglund founded in a New York Starbucks back in 2004.

Law360 has gradually expanded to roughly 80 employees, opening bureaus in Chicago and Los Angeles last year. The company charges between $1,000 and $100,000 for subscriptions, depending on whether the customer is a solo practitioner or a large firm, according to a CNNMoney story on Hoglund and Meland.

LexisNexis's acquisition of Law360 comes about a year after the Reed Elsevier unit and ALM Media LLC—the parent company of The Am Law Daily and The American Lawyer—reached an agreement under which the latter exclusively licenses some of its content to the former. It is also the latest in a series of maneuvers undertaken by leading providers of legal news and information keen on gaining an edge in the fiercely competitive sector.

Thomson Reuters, the product of a $17.2 billion media merger in 2007, owns LexisNexis's legal research archrival Westlaw. The company launched its own daily legal newswire and acquired Asian Legal Business to boosts its presence in the Pacific region last year. (This month Thomson Reuters also relaunched The Brief, a monthly legal magazine in the Middle East, according to local news reports.)

Thomson Reuters also bought Indian legal process outsourcer Pangea3 in November 2010, divested itself seven months later of its Hildebrandt Baker Robbins consulting arm, and last September sold its trade and risk-management software business to private equity firm Vista Equity Partners for roughly $500 million, according to our previous reports. Bar & Bench, an Indian legal publication, reported this week that Dickstein Shapiro was advising Thomson Reuters on its purchase of RedEgg, a service used by marketing and public relations professionals.

Reed Elsevier, meanwhile, retained Morgan, Lewis & Bockius late last year for its $530 million acquisition of Skokie, Illinois–based legal and financial data provider Accuity Holdings, which the publishing giant has merged with its LexisNexis Risk Solutions and Bankers’ Almanac units.

The largest transaction last year in the legal news and research space saw Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom grab lead advisory roles as Bloomberg LP bested LexisNexis and Westlaw with its $990 million acquisition of The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), a private and independently owned provider of legal, public policy, and regulatory information to clients in academia, business, and government.

Bloomberg's legal division subsequently signed on to become the exclusive sponsor of SCOTUSblog, the Web site founded by appellate litigator Thomas Goldstein that dedicates itself to coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the NLJ.

Daily U.S. legal news providers that remain independent include Courthouse News Service, California's Daily Journal publications, Main Justice in Washington, D.C., the American Bar Association's ABA Journal, and several local and state legal publications throughout the country.

Am Law Daily parent ALM, along with its publications and other businesses, were sold by former attorney and private equity owner Bruce Wasserstein in 2007 for $630 million to London-based Incisive Media. Two years later, Incisive defaulted on the debt used to fund the deal, and its lenders, led by private equity firm Apax Partners and the Royal Bank of Scotland, took control of ALM.

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There were a couple of minor factual errors in the report. Henry Horbaczewski retired from Reed Elsevier in January, and as of January, Kenneth Thompson was replaced as Chief Legal Officer of LexisNexis by Ian McDougall.

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