WINNER: Clifford Chance
Clifford Chance, perhaps the biggest name in the private equity legal market in the City, wins in this category for its dual role acting for Cinven on two acquisitions: Mercury Pharma, which the buyout group bought from Linklaters client HgCapital, and Amdipharm, which it acquired from its founders in one of the largest buyouts of 2012. The two companies were then merged to form the AMCo Group. Both deals were signed within a couple of months, with the Amdipharm deal conditional on Mercury being signed. To make matters more complex, neither set of sellers could find out about the other deal, with both committed to a conditional transaction despite not knowing what that deal was.
Clifford Chance's team for Cinven was led by partners Jonny Myers and Brendan Moylan. The parallel acquisitions were among the largest private equity deals in the UK in 2012. The combination of the two companies to form AMCo created a giant with a presence in over 80 countries and an enterprise value of over £830m. The deals also represented the first transactions signed by Cinven since Clifford Chance was appointed to act for the buyout group more widely in 2012. Despite the high-profile exit of private equity head David Walker to Latham & Watkins earlier this year, Clifford Chance has had an impressive time in the buyouts sphere of late. A judge said: “Clifford Chance were able to utilise their extensive network to cover all the bases for their client.”
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2ND: Sullivan & Cromwell
Sullivan & Cromwell comes second for its standout deal of the year in Europe, the re-domiciliation and relisting of Coca-Coca Hellenic, the world's second-largest Coca-Cola bottler. The company switched its main listing from the Athens Exchange to the London Stock Exchange through a share exchange offer by a Swiss holding company for all the outstanding ordinary shares and American depository shares of the company. The deal was carried out under Greek takeover rules and US securities and tender requirements. It happened during a tough time for the Greek economy, but Sullivan was able to capitalise on the opportunity, putting forward London partners Nikolaos Andronikos, Vanessa Blackmore and George White.
A judge remarked: “Completing such a significant Greek re-domiciliation in the then prevailing environment must have presented serious challenges. Impressive.” Carrying out such a major deal in such tough economic times was an incredible achievement that rightly gives the US firm a place on the rostrum this year.
3RD: Chadbourne & Parke
Chadbourne & Parke advised the Privatisation Administration of the Republic of Turkey on the sale of a 23.9 per cent stake in Türkiye Halk Bankasi, the country's sixth largest bank by total assets. The deal raised $2.5bn and was, according to the firm, the largest-ever offering on the Istanbul Stock Exchange. The transaction involved convincing the local securities regulator that the local and international offering disclosures should be “harmonised” or aligned with each other. This has led to the regulator coming up with a new form of disclosure document for local offerings that is closer to the one used internationally. It was also the first high-profile offering since a raft of new Turkish legal frameworks were introduced. Chadbourne's team was led by Istanbul partner Ayşe Yüksel and London partners Charez Golvala and Claude Serfilippi. A judge described it as a “successful complex transaction involving a jurisdiction and market in which it is notoriously difficult to do business in”.