The Work

February 7, 2011 6:59 PM

Simpson Thacher, Latham on AOL's Pick-Up of HuffPo

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Global media giant AOL Inc. announced just after midnight on Monday that it has agreed to buy online news aggregate site The Huffington Post for $315 million.

AOL will pay $300 million in cash, while the remainder of the payment will come in the form of stock, according to a statement announcing the deal. The acquisition, which is expected to close early in the second quarter of 2011 at the latest, creates a new media group that the companies expect will draw 270 million unique global visitors each month.

Arianna Huffington, a cofounder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, will be named president and editor in chief of The Huffington Post Media Group. In that role, she will oversee all Huffington Post and AOL editorial content.

On Huffington's watch, HuffPo has taken off since it launched in 2005. According to the release announcing the deal, the site's audience grew by 22 percent in December 2010 versus the same month in 2009; it currently attracts almost 25 million unique monthly visitors.

Latham & Watkins represented Huffington Post on the transaction, according to the firm. The Latham team was led by Los Angeles partner Alex Voxman and counsel David Blood. Benefits and compensation partner Laurence Seymour, tax partner Samuel Weiner, antitrust partner Abbott "Tad" Lipsky, and antitrust counsel Sydney Smith also advised on the deal.

AOL turned to longtime outside counsel Simpson Thacher & Bartlet and Palo Alto-based M&A partner Peter Malloy. In September, as previously reported, Malloy advised AOL in connection with its purchase of web video syndication company 5min Media. (Terms of that deal were not disclosed.) Malloy also advised the company in 2000 on what proved to be its ill-conceived union with Time Warner.

The Simpson Thacher team working on the Huffington Post deal includes tax partner Katharine Moir, intellectual property partner Lori Lesser, and executive compensation partner Tristan Brown. AOL's general counsel is Julie Jacobs, who stepped into that role in May 2010.

In September, AOL also picked up TechCrunch, a leading technology blog, and social networking software provider Thing Labs. In the release announcing the Huffington Post deal, AOL says its hopes to expand the reach of its content network. AOL plans to take advantage of Huffington Post's community-building features, such as the regular contributions from influential political and cultural figures and the four million user comments HuffPo draws each month.


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