Clifford Chance is acting for EQT Scandinavia BV, which bought the frozen food giant for an undisclosed sum.
The agreement to sell the Findus business was signed this month but Peter Charlton, corporate partner at Clifford Chance who was one of 20 lawyers advising on the deal, says he does not expect it to be finalised until the end of this year or the beginning of 2000.
Guy Beringer, head of corporate at Allen & Overy, who is leading a team of 12, says Nestle's in-house legal department chose the two firms to work on the deal in Sweden, and it was not a case of either firm approaching the other.
“It was not driven that way round,” he says: “The work is all handed out in a controlled fashion by the in-house legal department.”
Beringer says his firm worked closely with Nestle's in-house team, specifically Trevor Brown, a senior lawyer specialising in M&A, in the company's various jurisdictions.
It is the first time Clifford Chance has advised EQT. Charlton says: “[EQT] were introduced to us by [local firm] Vinge. It is one of the firms we know well.”
Vinge also acted on the deal because Clifford Chance does not have a presence in the region.
Due to the international nature of the deal – which includes the acquisition of Findus in the UK, the Nordic region, France and Spain – Charlton says the firm used lawyers across its network. EQT will own all of Findus' worldwide operations except Switzerland and Italy.
Charlton says: “It was very complicated because of the nature of the business and because the assets of the company are integrated within Nestle.”
As well as settling some regulatory concerns arising from the deal, Findus has to be set up as a stand-alone business separate from its former parent.
Clifford Chance has been acting on the transaction since February during which time it advised on due diligence, competition, commercial, IT, employment and pension issues.