31 Jul 2013


A round-up of recent global deals and the lawyers who made them happen.

Activision Blizzard (until recently owned by Vivendi) is the gaming giant behind 'Call of Duty' Barone Firenze

France: Telecoms for Paris firms

Vivendi, the French media conglomerate that owns Canal+ Group and Universal Music Group (and until very recently, Activision Blizzard), is selling its 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom, and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Gibson Dunn in Paris have landed the lead roles on the deal. Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), a telecoms company based in the Middle East, are to acquire the estimated €4.2 billion stake. A Freshfields team led by Hervé Pisani is advising Etisalat, alongside Moroccan firm Bennani & Associés. Gibson Dunn is advising Vivendi, which is not for the first time, with a team led by Ariel Harroch and Marie-Charlotte Trebuchet, in cooperation with Nadia Kettani of Kettani Law Firm and Mohamed Hdid of Saaidi Hdid Consultants.   

US: Activision is game for buy-back

Following shortly after Vivendi’s Maroc Telecom buyout, the French media giant is relinquishing its controlling stake in Activision Blizzard, the huge video game company responsible for popular game franchises that include ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘World of Warcraft’. Four US heavyweight law firms Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz and Sullivan & Cromwell hare to lead the deal. This is second time in a very short period that Vivendi has called upon Gibson Dunn to advise them, having led for them in the aforementioned Maroc Telecom deal. Skadden advised Activision Blizzard with JP Morgan Securities also advising. Sullivan & Cromwell advised the investor group and Wachtell advised a committee of independent directors representing Activision’s transactions. Activision Blizzard is to buy back approximately 429 million of its shares, separate and become its own company in an $8.2 billion deal, according to the New York Times. Vivendi is said to hold on to an estimated 12 per cent stake in Santa Monica-based Activision Blizzard.

UK: fashionable deal

London-headquartered upmarket fashion brand Nicole Farhi has been sold to Maxine Hargreaves-Adams, daughter of Matalan founder John Hargreaves, after the business went into administration early in July. Hogan Lovells advised administrator Zolfo Cooper with a London team led by Joe Bannister, Dan Norris and Mathew Ditchburn. Ms Hargreaves-Adams was advised by DLA Piper, led by Rob Russell and Martin Keates, on the acquisition of the entire business worth £5.5 million including the brand’s 6 stores and 10 concessions.

Thailand: the Thai Life

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance, one of Japan’s largest life insurers, is purchasing a 15 per cent stake valued at $700 million in Thai Life Insurance, ALB reports, which will see Japanese M&A deals in Southeast Asia this year clocking a total value so far of $6.6 billion. Freshfields was the law firm responsible for advising Meiji Yasuda, alongside Thai counsel Hunton & Williams, led by partners Ed Cole and Junzaburo Kiuchi who are based in Freshfield’s Tokyo office. Baker & McKenzie advised Thai Life Insurance on the deal which reportedly was attractive to certain private equity firms.

Ireland: drug deal

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, A&L Goodbody and Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP are the law firms taking the lead roles on the $8.6 billion purchase of Irish drug company Elan Corp. (ELN) by US manufacturer of over-the-counter medicines Perrigo Co. (PRGO), reports Bloomberg Law. Perrigo, which will be based in Ireland, was advised by an S&C team with Morgan Lewis counselling the company on antitrust and competition. Perrigo also received financial counsel from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. A&L Goodbody advised Elan, led by partners Alan Casey and Cian McCourt, along with a team from Cadwalader. Elan’s financial adviser is Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP representing Citigroup and led by Barbara Becker.

Canada: high streets ahead

Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC), Canada’s largest department store chain operator, is acquiring luxury retailer Saks Inc. (SKS) in a $2.4 billion deal, advised by law firms Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP, Bloomberg Law reports. Gordon Caplan and Greg Astrachan lead Willkie’s team. Saks is being advised by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, led by Patricia A. Vlahakis, Joshua R. Cammaker and Gordon S. Moodie, and also by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP who is representing Goldman  Sachs Group Inc. as Saks’ financial adviser. The deal will create a company to run 320 North American stores.