Freshfields wins Cinven work on Kluwer auction

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has picked up the work on Cinven's latest foray into the publishing sector.

Most of the private equity house's recent publishing acquisitions have gone to Ashurst Morris Crisp, but for the Kluwer Academic Publishers auction, the work went to Freshfields corporate partner James Davis.

However, Candover, which was represented by Clifford Chance, was named preferred bidder after the auction and at this stage Cinven decided to throw in its lot with the victor.

From this point, the Clifford Chance team led on the M&A transaction, but used shared background such as due diligence prepared by Freshfields for the Cinven bid.

Recent Cinven acquisitions in the publishing sector have gone to Ashurst Morris Crisp, which traditionally shares the client relationship with Freshfields.

Ashursts acted on the IPC acquisition and the £1.2bn Vivendi Universal Publishing acquisition in May, which Paris partner Thomas Forschbach worked on.

Both Ashursts and Freshfields have problems with conflicts in the publishing sector.

Freshfields historically acts for Reed Elsevier and Ashursts acted for Taylor & Francis, a UK academic publishing corporate on the Kluwer auction.

Candover, which has been less active in publishing than Cinven, was one of four bidders in the Kluwer auction, the fourth being US publishing company John Wiley. Candover was represented by Clifford Chance partner Adam Signy, with Herbert Smith best friend Stibbe acting for the vendor Wolters Kluwer.

The consortium faced a tough fight from the academic publishers and the deal was finalised in nine days.

One party close to the deal said: “The opposition was promising the earth, but we had the cash and had to move quickly to complete.”