Davis Polk picks up Yahoo! instruction in Sonera deal

Davis Polk & Wardwell has picked up its first instruction from US technology giant Yahoo! Inc, advising on the acquisition of a 15 per cent stake in Sonera zed, the wireless internet portal of Finnish telecommunications company Sonera Corporation.
Sonera will transfer the 15 per cent stake by issuing new shares in its Sonera zed subsidiary. Yahoo! will then have two years to either purchase the remaining 85 per cent stake in the subsidiary, or to sell its 15 per cent back to Sonera. The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.
Although Davis Polk corporate partner John Knight led the team advising on the deal, the client originally came to the firm through fellow corporate partner David Wells. Yahoo!'s managing director for Europe Mark Opzoomer had dealt with Wells prior to joining Yahoo! in July last year. The company has traditionally used Osborne Clarke in the UK.
Knight was assisted by corporate lawyers Chris Maher, Jeff O'Brien and Anna Tikkanen. Also advising Yahoo! was the company's US adviser Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.
As part of the agreement, Sonera zed and Yahoo! will provide a range of co-branded services through SMS and WAP media, allowing internet products such as Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Mail to reach users through mobile phones. Other services will include screen logos, ringtones and picture messages.
Sonera instructed long-term adviser White & Case on the deal. Head of the firm's Helsinki office Patri Haussila led the team, which included London head of M&A Peter Finlay and New York partners John Lillis and Maureen Brundage.
Haussila commented: “This transaction suggests that the line between mobile communications services will become increasingly blurred.
“Our established relationship with Sonera and capability in New York, English and Finnish law, combined with an understanding of the communications market across Europe, enabled us to advise on all aspects of this transaction.”
Recently, White & Case also advised Sonera and its major shareholder, the State of Finland, on its merger with Telia AB of Sweden. At e18bn (£11.54bn), it was the largest merger to take place in the Nordic region.