Laporte panel uncertain after Degussa takeover

Chemical company Laporte is cutting its in-house legal department as its future relationship with its panel firms hangs in the balance following its takeover by Degussa-Hüls.

Dan Toner, one of two UK lawyers, is leaving the in-house team in March as the company reaches the final stages of the takeover by the German company, leaving just Nicholas Smith, director of legal affairs and company secretary, at Laporte.

The company's other lawyer, based in the US, left last year to join KL Holdings, a newco which was set up by buyout company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) when it purchased nearly 60 per cent of Laporte's businesses, including its pigments and additives interests.

The takeover by Degussa also calls into question Laporte's chosen law firms, since Smith admits that the German company might want to bring in its own legal advisers after the bid is completed. Degussa is being represented by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer on the deal.

Laporte uses Allen & Overy, Eversheds, Hammond Suddards Edge, Slaughter and May, Stevens & Bolton and in the US Hughes Hubbard & Reed.

Smith says that the German company “might have its own ideas” on what firms it wants to use, adding: “But it may want to keep them. I'd recommend staying with these firms – they know the transactions and people need that continuity of knowledge.”

Smith was going to review the panel before the company went through its corporate restructuring, but that has now been put on hold.

see Client File, page 20