Freshfields sees EWG through buyout of Aviagen from Advent

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

has landed its first instruction from the Erich Wesjohann Group (EWG), the privately-owned German poultry-breeding business – beating German rival Hengeler Mueller for the job.

The magic circle firm advised EWG on the purchase of poultry science business Aviagen International Group from Advent International. Freshfields won the mandate to act for EWG after participating in a beauty parade against Hengeler.

Advent, which was advised by Lovells, acquired Aviagen in a secondary buyout from BC Partners for $300m (£156.7m) in May 2003. EWG, which already owned a 21 per cent stake in Aviagen, bought the company for an undisclosed sum on 22 April this year.

During its ownership, Advent supported Aviagen in making three significant acquisitions with the purchases of Benelux-based distributor Ross, Central Europe distributor Babolna Breeding Farms and the facilities and operations of turkey breeder BUTA.

Because of the nature of Aviagen’s business, the lawyers carrying out due diligence on site had to be tested for salmonella.

Lovells partner Derek Baird won the mandate to advise Advent on the exit because he advised the private equity house when it bought Aviagen from BC Partners.

The secondary buyout of Aviagen was the first private equity deal Baird advised on after joining Lovells from private equity boutique Dickson Minto in 2002.

Baird commented: “The deal was unusual as it was structured as a leveraged buyout but put together by a privately-owned German company.

“Private equity transactions are usually the domain of the institutional buyer with an acute knowledge of the debt market, not necessarily a big family-owned company.”

The Freshfields team was led by Frankfurt-based partner Henning Oesterhaus.

Aviagen’s management was advised by Travers Smith partner Charlie Barter, while UBS, which provided bank debt to EWG, instructed London-based Clifford Chance partner Jay Gavigan.