As the first anniversary of the spectacular collapse of US investment banking giant Lehman Brothers approaches the financial markets appear to be breathing a huge sigh of relief with the FTSE 100 even breaching 5000 points for the first time in 12 months.
What’s more M&A lawyers were given a big boost with the launch of two big-ticket deals. The first, Kraft’s $16.7bn offer for Cadbury gifted magic circle firm Clifford Chance with a mandate to advise the bidder while Slaughter and May is expected to act for the target (read article). The offer was, however, rejected by UK-based Cadbury.
Clifford Chance has advised Kraft on a number of deals in recent years. In May 2007 the firm advised the company on its $7.2bn acquisition of Danone’s biscuit business.
Meanwhile, earlier this year Slaughters partner Matthew Tobin led a team advising Cadbury Schweppes Finance on its £300m bond issuance (30 March 2009). Additionally, in 2005 London corporate partner Tim Boxell acted for Cadbury Schweppes when private equity houses Lion Capital and Blackstone Group bought its European drinks business for £1.27bn.
The second deal, which also saw Clifford Chance secure a lead role opposite Norton Rose is the potential merger of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK. If completed the tie-up would create the largest mobile phone operator in the UK (read article).
Clifford Chance partner Joachim Fleury, who heads the firm’s communications, media and technology practice, is leading the team advising T-Mobile’s parent Deutsche Telekom. T-Mobile is not receiving separate advice on the deal.
Fleury is working alongside London M&A partner Spencer Baylin and competition partner Jenine Hulsman as well as Düsseldorf competition partner and office head Joachim Schütze.
Orange’s parent France Telecom, which has turned to New York elite firms such as Sullivan & Cromwell for past M&A deals, has instructed Norton Rose.
London corporate partner Oliver Stacey, corporate finance partner Chris Pearson and regulatory partner Michael Grenfell are leading the Norton Rose team.
The Kraft/Cadbury and T-Mobile/Orange deals are definitely good news for deal hungry lawyers who have spent the past few months fiddling with their rolodexes. But most experts will argue that it’s going to take a lot more to repair the damage caused by the credit crisis and the resulting collapse of Lehman.