Sullivan guides Diageo on Ketel One investment

Sullivan & Cromwell has cemented its relationship with drinks giant Diageo, advising the company on its $900m (£456.50m) joint venture with Dutch distiller Ketel One.

The deal will allow Diageo, which owns Smirnoff vodka, to distribute Ketel’s premium vodka brand to a global market with an emphasis on the US.

Sullivan & Cromwell, which has advised Diageo for more than a decade, fielded a large team to act on the purchase, including London M&A partner Richard Morrissey and New York partner Frank Aquila. Both have advised Diageo since 1997, when GrandMet and Guinness merged to create the UK company. New York partner Steven Holley took the lead on anti-trust issues.

Sullivan & Cromwell has emerged as Diageo’s firm of choice for M&A activity involving the US. Last month the firm was instructed on the company’s $105m (£53.26m) purchase of US wine producer Rosenblum Cellars.

Slaughter and May normally advises on Diageo transactions that are based in the UK.

The Ketel One deal saw Diageo secure 50 per cent of the company from the Dutch Nolet family, who continue to own the rights to the brand. Ketel One was represented by local firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek as well as Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in the US.

Diageo also turned to Morgan Lewis on IP, SJ Berwin on European anti-trust issues and Dutch firm NautaDutilh.