Weil Gotshal strengthens Bridgepoint ties in Polish deal

Weil Gotshal & Manges’ London office is building on its relationship with private equity house Bridgepoint, working with its Polish counterparts on the acquisition of retailer Smyk.

The transaction concerns Bridgepoint’s €247m (£188m) acquisition of children’s clothes and toys retailer Smyk from Warsaw stock-exchange listed Empik Media & Fashion, represented by Clifford Chance.

Weil Gotshal corporate partner Pawel Zdort and anti-trust partner Iwona Her led the team from Warsaw, while corporate partner Volkmar Bruckner led a due diligence team in Munich.

Building on the relationship between Bridgepoint and Weil Gotshal’s Eastern European offices, the firm additionally fielded a London finance team led by banking head Mark Donald, with finance partner James Clarke working in Paris.

Weil Gotshal and Bridgepoint have close ties in Eastern Europe, though the firm has acted on just a few deals for Bridgepoint in London. It is understood the firm is looking to use its Eastern European influence across the firm’s regions, as it aims to do more with certain sponsors such as Bridgepoint.

Bridgepoint has in the past turned to longstanding advisers Travers Smith and Shearman & Sterling, although Travers won a role advising Smyk’s management this time round. The firm’s senior partner Chris Hale was already involved in the deal prior to Bridgepoint’s involvement, having been approached by Smyk’s chief executive Mark Rolman.

Clifford Chance meanwhile advised the selling owner Empik Media & Fashion, with a team led by Agnieszka Janicka.

Smyk operates a network of 125 stores in Poland and is looking to grow its presence in Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Germany.

Background to the deal 

Weil Gotshal has not previously been listed as a chief adviser of Bridgepoint. The equity house’s general counsel Charlie Barter told The Lawyer in 2014: “we don’t go to any old firm – we have our favoured ones”.

Instead Bridgepoint historically takes advice from Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Travers Smith, but more recently selected Shearman & Sterling to take on some of the work, awarding it its first mandate on the £212m acquisition of foreign exchange provider Moneycorp.

It is understood Bridgepoint turned to Shearman due to its existing relationship with private equity partner Mark Soundy, who joined its ranks from Weil Gotshal & Manges in 2013 and is also a Travers Smith alumnus.

While at Weil Gotshal, Soundy advised on a number of deals for Bridgepoint, including its sale of Environmental Resources Management and All3Media. However, since he departed in 2013, the number of transactions on which Weil Gotshal has publically appeared for Bridgepoint has declined.