KKR turns to Bakers for advice on divestment of Seven Media

Baker & McKenzie has landed a mandate advising private equity powerhouse Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) on the sale of its stake in Seven Media Group (SMG) to West Australian Newspapers (WAN).

Mark McNamara
Mark McNamara

KKR is selling its stake in news and media group WAN, which publishes The West Australian and a ­number of other regional and daily newspaper titles, for A$4.09bn (£2.54bn) in what amounts to one of the biggest deals in Australian media history.

SMG is one of Australia’s biggest media companies and is owned by the investment fund Seven Group Holdings. The combined SMG and WAN group will be known as Seven West Media (SWM) if the transaction gets the go-ahead.

The Bakers team was led by Sydney-based global ­private equity head Mark McNamara. The team also included Sydney private equity partner Julie Hutton, corporate partner David Holland, tax partner Tim Sherman and senior ­associate Alex Elser. Bakers advised on the original deal regarding the creation of Seven Media Group in 2006.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partner Sinead O’Shea advised KKR on banking matters.

Commenting on the transaction, McNamara said: “We advised KKR on the initial acquisition of the stake in SMG and have acted for them for a number of years. We’re very pleased to advise on this very ­significant transaction for our client.

“The transaction drew on the skills of many lawyers from across Baker & McKenzie’s private equity, corporate and tax practices, and we’re delighted to have brought this leading ­transaction to a successful outcome for our clients.”

KKR is known for ­generally turning to ­Simpson Thacher for advice. In the UK corporate partner Adam Signy took the ­mandate on last year’s £955m Pets at Home ­buyout following his move from Clifford Chance.

On the current deal Australian firm Freehills advised SMG with a team led by Sydney-based ­corporate partner Fiona Gardiner-Hill, while WAN turned to another Australian firm, Allens Arthur ­Robinson, with a team led by partner Guy Alexander.

The transaction was announced on 21 February. It is subject to clearance by regulators and shareholders. If it gets the green light it will become the largest listed Australian-based media company.