Sidley and Latham sew up Coupang’s $500m Farfetch rescue deal

Sidley advises South Korea’s Coupang on its acquisition of troubled luxury e-commerce platform, advised by Latham
Avepark, Guimaraes, Portugal, May 18, 2022: Farfetch's Creative Operations Centre in the city of Guimarães.

High-end fashion marketplace Farfetch was founded in 2008 by Portuguese businessman José Neves TMP - An Instant of Time; Shutterstock

Sidley Austin and Latham & Watkins are acting on South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang’s acquisition of Farfetch, in a transaction that saves the British luxury e-tailer from bankruptcy and provides it with a $500m bridge loan to continue its operations. 

Sidley has represented Coupang on the deal while Latham has acted for Farfetch, which operates a digital marketplace that sells products from hundreds of brands, boutiques and department stores from across the world.

Global investment firm Greenoaks has acted as Coupang’s investment partner in the acquisition. As part of the deal, Farfetch shares will be delisted and its existing shareholders will be wiped out. 

Coupang’s founder and CEO, Bom Kim, commented: “Farfetch will rededicate itself to providing the most elevated experience for the world’s most exclusive brands, while pursuing steady and thoughtful growth as a private company.”

The Sidley team acting for Coupang is being led by M&A partner Martin Wellington, who is based in Palo Alto, Dallas-based finance partner Karen Goldstein and restructuring partner Mark Knight, who works out of the London office. The firm has a longstanding relationship with Coupang and also acted for the company on its $1bn Series H financing round led by SoftBank back in 2015. 

Meantime, the Latham team was led by London-based corporate partners Ed Barnett, Hector Sants and Josh Kiernan as well as New York-based Ian Schuman. Nearly 50 other partners and associates provided advice in areas including restructuring, banking and finance, capital markets, data and technology, antitrust and tax.

Once hailed as the most dominant force in luxury fashion, Farfetch went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018 but has been beset in recent years by spiralling costs and debt and a string of high-risk investments. 

The company’s acquisition by Coupang, a Fortune 200 company that reported $20.6bn in net revenue in 2022, represents a lifeline after months of teetering on the edge of collapse. 

The deal is expected to be finalised early next year. 

In August, Latham advised Coach-owner Tapestry on its proposed $8.5bn acquisition of luxury fashion business Capri Holdings, advised by Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz.

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