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Clifford Chance has lost out to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett on Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ (KKR) £955m buyout of retailer Pets at Home, with partner Adam Signy giving M&A advice to the US private equity house.
In the UK Simpson Thacher has long been KKR’s go-to adviser on the financing side of deals, while Clifford Chance regularly advises the buyout house on the M&A aspects of deals. In 2007 the magic circle firm advised KKR on its acquisition of Alliance Boots, with partner Daniel Kossoff leading (12 March 2007).
Last May The Lawyer reported that Signy had defected from Clifford Chance to Simpson Thacher (5 May 2009). While his departure was seen as a blow for the magic circle firm, where he had been one of the corporate practice’s biggest hitters, his arrival at Simpson Thacher gave the US firm English law M&A capabilities for the first time.
It is understood that this is the first time the firm’s London office has advised KKR on both the financing and M&A sides of a deal.
Ian Barratt, who took over the KKR relationship when acquisition finance veteran Tony Keal retired last year (12 October 2009), led on the financing side.
Pets at Home was sold by Bridgepoint Capital, which had bought the retailer for £230m in 2005 and was considering exiting its position via an IPO. Bridgepoint was advised by Travers Smith partner David Innes while the management at Pets at Home was advised by DLA Piper.
The banks that were preparing Pets at Home for an IPO, including Rothschild, JPMorgan Cazenove and RBS Hoare Govett, were adised by Ashurst partner Nicholas Holmes.
The debt finance for the deal was provided by Nomura and Calyon with Nomura acting as financial adviser to the deal. The banks were advised by Linklaters partner Nick Syson.