Macfarlanes wins role as financier Leon Black buys Phaidon Press

Macfarlanes, Paul Weiss and Slaughter and May have advised on a deal that has seen New York billionaire Leon Black buy London-based art publishing house Phaidon Press.

Black, an avid art collector who reportedly paid nearly $120m for Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ at an auction in May, is paying an undisclosed amount for the high-end book publisher. It is understood to be a personal investment and nothing to do with his company, American private equity firm Apollo Global Management, where Black stands as chairman and chief executive.

Longtime Apollo adviser Paul Weiss advised Black on the sale from its London office, with corporate partner David Lakhdhir leading. Lakhdir instructed a team from Macfarlanes for help on the deal, with London-based corporate partner Luke Powell acting.

The buyer acquired the publisher from British businessman Richard Schlagman, who turned to the London office of Slaughter and May for legal advice. Corporate and commercial partner Mark Zerdin is understood to have led the deal alongside tax partner Gareth Miles and associates Philip Linnard, Filippo de Falco and Owen Williams.

Schlagman hired investment bank Greenhill in June to conduct the sale and find a buyer for the 89-year old company. According to Forbes’s rich list Black has a net worth of around $3.5bn.

Background to this deal:

Paul Weiss has represented Apollo on a number of transactions, including its $425m settlement with Vinson & Elkins client Huntsman in 2008, when the firm was reportedly brought in to provide a ‘fresh face’ in a long-running saga between Apollo-owned Hexion and Huntsman.

Although the Phaidon deal was a personal investment by Black it is not surprising, given his central role at Apollo, that he has turned to the firm’s London office for legal advice. It is not known if Schlagman has used Slaughters before and the firm’s lead partner on the deal was not available for comment.