The Work

September 27, 2011 3:59 PM

Kirkland, A&O, Others Lead on Legal, Business Media Deals

Posted by Brian Baxter

In a pair of recently announced transactions totaling nearly $1 billion and involving two of the leading companies in the legal and business information sector, Thomson Reuters is selling a business unit and Reed Elsevier is buying one.

Reed Elsevier, owner of the LexisNexis legal research service, announced Monday that it will acquire Skokie, Ilinois–based legal and financial data provider Accuity Holdings from private equity firm Investcorp for about $533 million in cash.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius corporate partners Charles Engros, Jr., and Robert Dickey are leading a team from the firm advising publishing giant Reed Elsevier on the acquisition. The firm has in the past handled deal work on behalf of companies buying assets from London-based Reed Elsevier. Reed Elsevier's global general counsel is Henry "Hank" Udow, who took over earlier this year after the retirement of predecessor Stephen Cowden.

Crowell & Moring antitrust cochair Robert Lipstein, partner Werner Berg, and counsel Olivier Antoine are providing antitrust advice to Reed Elsevier on the transaction. The firm previously provided antitrust advice to the company on its $3.6 billion acquisition of insurance industry information services provider ChoicePoint in February 2008.

Reed Elsevier intends to merge Accuity into its Bankers' Almanac and LexisNexis Risk Solutions divisions, according to the Financial Times. Outside legal advisers for Bahrain-based Investcorp, whose general counsel is Stephanie Bess, were not immediately available. (Am Law Daily parent ALM Media LLC licenses some of its content exclusively to LexisNexis, a Reed Elsevier subsidiary.)

Meanhwhile, Thomson Reuters, which owns the Westlaw legal research service, confirmed Friday that it has sold its trade and risk-management software business to Vista Equity Partners for an undisclosed sum. Some media reports put the value of the deal at around $500 million.

Allen & Overy is advising New York–based Thomson Reuters on the sale of the unit, which includes flagship product Kondor. The Magic Circle firm has a long history with Thomson Reuters, having advised predecessor company Thomson on its $17 billion merger with Reuters in May 2007. A&O also took the lead for Thomson Reuters last year on its acquisition of Indian legal process outsourcing firm Pangea3.

Kirkland & Ellis corporate partners David Breach, Gavin Gordon, and Stuart Casillas, IP and technology partner John Lynn, and European debt finance practice founder John Markland are representing Vista on the acquisition. Kirkland advised Vista last year on its $1 billion sale of energy services and software provider Ventyx to Swiss power and engineering company ABB.

Reuters reports that Vista beat out several competing private equity firms—including Cinvin, Bridgepoint Capital, and Montagu Private Equity—for the Kondor unit. Thomson Reuters, whose general counsel is Deirdre Stanley, expects the sale to close by January 31, 2012.

The deals by Thomson Reuters and Reed Elsevier follow a late August transaction that saw rival Bloomberg LP acquire The Bureau of National Affairs, a privately owned provider of legal and business information to clients in government, business, and academia, for $990 million. Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom advised on that deal, according to our previous reports.

In a separate foray into the legal news sector, Bloomberg Law announced on Monday that it had reached an exclusive sponsorship agreement with SCOTUSblog, the Web site dedicated to coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court. Started by appellate litigator Tom Goldstein in 2002, SCOTUSblog officially relaunched itself Monday under the Bloomberg banner, according to sibling publication The National Law Journal.

Due to client conflicts, Goldstein left Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld earlier this year to return to his former firm (now renamed Goldstein & Russell). Akin Gump was SCOTUSblog's previous sponsor.

The additional resources provided by Bloomberg will allow SCOTUSblog, already a must-read for Supreme Court watchers, to "dramatically expand" its offerings, Goldstein told the NLJ's Tony Mauro.

Goldstein's site plans to expand its offerings to include "community" discussion boards about key cases before the high court and a team of new contributors led by former Wall Street Journal correspondent and current law professor Stephen Wermiel, according to the NLJ.

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