DEAL OF THE WEEK: E.ON/Norsk Hydro

Linklaters proves M&A prowess with Norsk deal

Linklaters advised Norwegian oil and energy giant Norsk Hydro on its g3.1bn (£1.91bn) acquisition of VAW aluminium from E.ON.
Although Norsk Hydro was already a Linklaters client, the instruction was significant because it consolidated Linklaters' rising status for M&A in Germany.
The deal was Norsk Hydro's largest acquisition and was one of the biggest foreign acquisitions by a Norwegian company. It also raised Norsk Hydro's ranking in primary aluminium production from fifth to third.
Rising star and corporate partner Klaus Marinus Hoenig led the deal out of the Cologne office.
Linklaters' corporate department is currently flourishing. Of the corporate client base in Cologne, 60 per cent is international, with clients including Gerling, Ford, Babcock & Borsig and Deutsche Post.
Editor of German legal magazine JuVe Aled Griffiths said that Linklaters' corporate department is one to watch. “It has a really good clutch of young corporate partners,” he added.
E.ON was advised by Thomas König at Shearman & Sterling and VAW was advised by Hengeler Mueller.
To secure the deal, Norsk Hydro beat off competition from a number of bidders, including French aluminium and packaging group Pechiney and aluminium producer Alcan.
For the VAW deal to be completed it needs to be approved by the European Commission. Shearman partner Hans-Jürgen Lindemann said that the file will be submitted shortly.
While Shearman also advised on the competition side for E.ON, Norsk Hydro brought in Simmons & Simmons to handle the antitrust work.
E.ON often instructs Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, but on this occasion the firm was conflicted out because it was advising one of the other interested parties, let ting Shearman in.
E.ON is the result of the 1999 merger between Veba and Viag. In that deal Shearman represented Veba while Freshfields represented Viag. Both firms continue to give the company transactional advice.
The company has been particularly active since 1999, when it announced a disposal programme that included plans to sell off its non-core assets.
In July, Freshfields partner Axel Epe led the deal advising E.ON when it swapped Veba Oel with British Petroleum (BP) for a 25.5 per cent stake in Ruhrgas. Shearman also advised on transactional work, including giving general corporate advice to the shareholders.
E.ON also uses Hengeler, and in 2000 the firm advised it on the sale of Veba Electronics to Schroder Ventures.
The VAW sale completes E.ON's strategy to digress its non-core assets and the company has suggested that it might float shares in the company later in the year. It will be interesting to see who the company instructs.