A&O builds private equity coverage with Soros deal

Allen & Overy's (A&O) private equity team has scooped instructions to advise Soros Private Equity Partners on its €235m (£161m) acquisition of German-based Polymer Latex from Degussa AG and Bayer AG. The mandate is a victory for A&O, which is trying to win more private equity work both at home and in Germany.

Shearman & Sterling and Macfarlanes are also on the Soros panel. Macfarlanes normally advises on UK-based deals, while the cross-border work is split between Shearman and A&O. Partner Jeremy Parr, who led the deal in London, said that Soros chose A&O in favour of Shearmans because it was “convinced by A&O's German capability”.

A&O's push into the German private equity market was stepped up following the appointment of former Haarmann Hemmelrath tax partner Eugen Bogenschuetz last year. Bogenschuetz joined A&O's Frankfurt office to lead the firm's German tax division. Frankfurt-based partner Neil Weiand said: “In the past we've refrained from targeting private equity houses because we lacked a tax practice in Germany. The addition of a tax practice was a complementary move.”

The instruction is also likely to boost A&O's London-based private equity practice, which is generally not considered a major player in this arena.

Historically, Parr, working with German partner Reinhard Hermes, has worked with Soros on some smaller deals around the €30m-€50m (£20.6m-£34.3m) mark, but this is his largest instruction to date.

Parr said: “This key deal strengthens our growing relationship with Soros Private Equity, for whom this is our largest and most international [deal] to date.”

Parr previously advised Soros and other lead investors on an investment in internet holding company Speed Ventures in December 2001.

Polymer Latex has chemicals operations in Germany, Italy and the UK and a joint venture in Finland. The acquisition is conditional on antitrust clearances.

Sellers Degussa and Bayer are being advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Meanwhile, Clifford Chance is acting for Commerzbank, which is providing funding for the acquisition.