Baker McKenzie, Allen & Overy advise on Advent and Wilbur-Ellis chemicals tie-up

Advent’s Caldic and Wilbur-Ellis’s Connell to merge to create €3bn global life sciences and speciality chemicals business
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San Francisco-headquartered Connell to merge with Caldic Shutterstock

Baker McKenzie and Allen & Overy have advised on a deal between private equity firm Advent International and family-owned business Wilbur-Ellis to merge two of their companies – Caldic and Connell – to create a leading global life sciences and specialty chemicals distribution platform.

Bakers advised Wilbur-Ellis, which owns San Francisco-headquartered Connell, while Allen & Overy advised Advent, which owns Netherlands-based Caldic. The combined business will employ more than 3,800 people across 43 countries and generate sales of around €3bn. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though the transaction is expected to complete early next year.

Bakers' team was led by tax partner Robin Chesler in Palo Alto and M&A Partners Nick Bryans and James Heller in London, Leif King in Palo Alto and Emery Mitchell in San Francisco.

Justin Steer, managing partner of Allen & Overy's Amsterdam office, led the team advising Advent, a regular client of the Magic Circle UK firm.

Ronald Ayles, managing partner at Advent International, said: “By bringing together the highly complementary businesses of Caldic and Connell, we will form a truly global business with significant exposure to high-growth regions and very diversified end markets with a high value-add offering.”

Alexander Wessels, CEO of Caldic, said: “Bringing together similar entrepreneurial cultures and complementary geographies reinforces our ambition to establish Caldic as a global growth platform with a significant presence in two high-growth regions, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.”

M&A activity has been relatively subdued this year after a blockbuster 2021, with overall deal value dropping by a third during the first nine months of the year – the largest year-on-year percentage decline since the financial crisis, according to Refinitiv.

Allen & Overy scraped into the top 25 M&A legal advisory rankings by deal value in the third quarter, working on 166 deals worth $88.7bn. Bakers failed to make the top 25 by deal value, though it ranked 11th by deal volume, working on 241 deals worth $72bn. 

Providing Bakers support on the Wilbur-Ellis deal were San Francisco-based corporate partner Scott Meselson and associates David Fronckowiak and Brian Koorstad and London-based associates Ben Saraci and Debaditya Datta. The tax team included partners Stewart Lipeles in Palo Alto, Lane Morgan in Dallas, Natalie Dunne in London and Michiel Kloes in Amsterdam alongside London-based senior associate Ed Swift and San Francisco-based associate Susan Keller. Chicago-based director of economics Ivan Tsios and principal economist Moiz Shirazi in Palo Alto also worked on the deal.

Last month, meanwhile, Advent appointed Amanda McGrady Morrison as its new general counsel and chief legal officer, replacing James Westra who is retiring at the end of this year. Morrison is joining from Ropes & Gray in Boston where she was head of the firm’s global private equity transactions group.

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