One of Reynolds Porter Chamberlain’s (RPC) big-gest deals of last year was a Mexican acquisition for a Swedish client involving no English law whatsoever.
RPC has advised Swedish paper company Svenska Cellulosa (SCA) for about 40 years, with corporate partner Jonathan Watnough inheriting the relationship in the mid-1990s.
Until now the firm has advised the $13bn (£6.8bn) company solely on its mergers and acquisitions in the UK, so Watnough was surprised to get the call from the company’s general counsel Anders Nyberg when SCA decided to buy into Mexican tissue products company Copamex Productos al Consumidor (CPC).
“We led the deal from the UK. It was a bit like running any other cross-border deal but unusual in that there was no UK law,” said Watnough.
RPC advised SCA on its initial 50 per cent stake in March 2004 and also advised when SCA completed a full takeover at the end of 2004. The combined total of the two deals was $196m (£102.1m). Watnough turned to Mexican law firm Jauregui Navarrete Nader & Rojas for local law issues.
Copamex, the company selling the joint venture CPC, was advised by the New York office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, which also has no Mexican presence. Copamex’s in-house team handled the local law.
“Most Central American deals adopt a US format for the sale and purchase arrangement,” said Watnough. “We do a fair amount of cross-border M&A. It’s not like we have an office in Timbuktu, or wherever, but we do have very longstanding clients who trust us.”