Parr lights up A&O with Imperial US deal

Allen & Overy (A&O) represented longstanding client Imperial Tobacco on its first US acquisition, the $1.9bn (£974m) cash offer for Commonwealth Brands.

Kentucky-based Commonwealth, currently owned by Houchens Industries, is the US’s fourth-largest cigarette manufacturer with revenues last year of £89m. Its cigarette brands include USA Gold and Sonoma.

Imperial, meanwhile, is the fourth-largest tobacco company in the world. A&O won Imperial as a client in 2002 when relationship partner Jeremy Parr joined the firm from Ashurst,

Parr worked on the Commonwealth deal together with a team in A&O’s New York office, including special counsel Mike Gilligan and competition partner Michael Jahnke.

Houchens and Commonwealth instruced local Kentucky firm Wyatt Tarrant & Combs, with corporate partner Franklin Jelsma leading.

Citigroup advised Imperial on its bid while Houchens used Lehman Brothers. The banks did not instruct any other firms.

This is the latest deal in the consolidating global tobacco market. It follows Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer client Japan Tobacco’s £7.5bn bid for Gallaher in December. Gallaher, which produces Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges, instructed Slaughter and May.