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Latham & Watkins’ recent push into the recruitment market has already paid dividends after the US firm secured the lead role for new client Norsk Hydro on its $4.19bn (£2.78bn) acquisition of Vale’s aluminium business.
The team that won the mandate featured three of the firm’s recent lateral hires: former White & Case partner Glen Ireland and ex-Ashurst partner Graeme Ward on the M&A side and another White & Case alumnus Craig Nethercott on the finance aspects.
Norsk was one of Ireland’s clients at White & Case and has followed him to Latham in the wake of his February move.
Latham is advising Norsk on both the acquisition and a $1.75bn rights issue. London-based corporate partners Antti Ihamuotila, Olof Clausson and Lars André Gjerdrum are representing Norsk on the rights issue.
Allen & Overy partners Jeremy Parr and Dominic Morris are advising Vale.
The acquisition will see the majority of Vale’s bauxite, alumina and aluminium assets being combined with Norsk’s existing business, transforming it into a fully integrated global aluminium company.
“We think this is a transaction that will reshape the aluminium industry, where there are only a few large, integrated players, including Norsk Hydro,” said Ireland. “This actually creates a new global player within the industry.”
Ireland believes the deal could be the first of many in the sector following a resurgence in the mining and mineral industries.
“The sector’s now pretty busy and we see lots of opportunities to expand,” said Ireland. “Commodities prices have started to come back from what were some severe lows. A lot of Chinese companies have also started to have a big influence as they look to bankroll new projects, which means that firms in the West can’t afford to sit back on their laurels if they’re to maintain their market share.”
Ireland was former co-head of White & Case’s global mining and metal groups before arriving at Latham in February, along with seven other partners specialising in the sector.
“Latham’s not historically associated with this area,” admitted Ireland, “but the great news is that this is the first big transaction and shows that the capability now exists within the firm to handle these matters.
“We have a very strong M&A practice, which was one of the attractions of coming here and which complements the expertise we bring to the table.”