Silicon Valley firms in fees lifeline as Hewlett-Packard and Compaq merge

Silicon Valley lawyers have scooped all the work advising on the mega-merger of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq.

Rival lawyers say the deal could generate as much as $8m (£5.5m) in fees for the Valley, to be shared between local giant Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and the Valley office of New York's Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.
Historically, such landmark deals have boasted some kind of New York involvement, but this bid, which will create the second-largest computer manufacturer, stayed with West Coast lawyers. Creating a company with annual revenues of $87.4bn (£60.23bn) and with 145,000 employees in 160 countries, the deal is one of the biggest to come up in the technology sector for months.
Wilson Sonsini has been corporate counsel to Hewlett-Packard in the past, advising it on its global demerger of Agilent Technologies in 1999.
On the Compaq merger, the firm is using a team of 25 lawyers led by chairman and leading Silicon Valley rainmaker Larry Sonsini.
A competitor said the firm was likely to pick up as much as $2m (£1.38m) in fees for the deal – more than welcome in light of the firm's recent struggles caused by the downturn in corporate work.
Skadden Arps has also represented Houston-based Compaq for some time, and competitors said the firm may have received a “goodbye” fee of as much as $6m (£4.13m) for jobs well done.
Leading the firm's team was head of the Valley office Ken King, who was joined by New York partner Roger Aaron.
Outside the US, only Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer scooped a role, advising its longstanding client Hewlett-Packard on antitrust issues in Europe.
Skadden Arps Brussels partner Henry Huser will deal with the antitrust issues for Compaq.
At Freshfields, competition and trade partner Jenny Connolly is leading the team. She also acted for Hewlett-Packard on its demerger of Agilent Technologies in 1999. The client was Freshfields' biggest biller that year.
The deal is a landmark for Skadden Arps' Valley office, which opened in 1998. In 2000, the office completed 102 deals, each in excess of $150m (£103.37m), for clients that included AltaVista, Applied Materials and Fremont Partners.

The advisers

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati:
Larry Sonsini
Martin Korman
Robert Sanchez

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer:
Jenny Connolly

Drinker Biddle & Reath:
Robert Skitol

In-house counsel:
Ann Baskins (general counsel)


Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom:
Kenton King
Roger Aaron
Celese Greene

In-house counsel:
Thomas Siekman (general counsel)