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February 29, 2012 6:09 PM

Freshfields, K&E Advise on CVC Capital's $2.4 Billion Swedish Tool Company Purchase

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

U.K. private equity investor CVC Capital Partners has agreed to acquire Swedish tool distributor Ahlsell for $2.4 billion from Cinven and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.

CVC announced the acquisition Wednesday, saying that the agreement came after it entered exclusive talks about buying Ahlsell with the two private equity firms. The company sells tools and products to professionals in the electronics, heating, plumbing, refrigeration, and machinery sectors with 220 outlets across Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, and Russia.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is among the largest in Europe's private equity market since the sovereign debt crisis began, according to The New York Times. Cinven and Goldman bought Ahlsell, which reported 2011 revenues of $3.1 billion, in 2006 from Nordic Capital for about $1.6 billion, the Times adds.

CVC turned to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as outside counsel on the matter. The firm's team is led by London corporate partner Chris Brown. Banking partner Sean Pierce and finance counsel James Clarke are advising on financing; antitrust partner Alastair Chapman, along with antitrust counsels Till Steinvorth and Alexander Viktorov are handling competition issues.

Freshfields has advised CVC on a number of past transactions, including last summer's $707 million acquisition of a controlling stake in billionaire Richard Branson's health club operator Virgin Active.

Kirkland & Ellis, meanwhile, is advising both Cinven and Goldman. London private equity partners Gavin Gordon and David Arnold are leading a Kirkland team that also includes debt finance partner Stephen Gillespie, capital markets partner Ward McKimm, and antitrust partner Shaun Goodman. According to its Web site, Kirkland's relationship with Cinven includes advising the Numericable Group, a portfolio company of Cinven, Altice, and The Carlyle Group, on a $481.8 million debt offering.

As U.K. publication Legal Week notes, Freshfields has its own ties to Cinven. The firm advised the private equity firm last month on the $1.5 billion acquisition of legal process outsourcing company CPA Global (Travers Smith and DLA Piper represented CPA).

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