Gleiss helps kill off ‘locust’ tag

Private equity houses have famously been described as locusts (Heuschrecken) in Germany, but it looks as if Gleiss Lutz could have acted on the deal that will change this perception.

Herbert Smith’s German ally advised regular client Blackstone on its first-ever investment in a government-controlled company. Blackstone acquired a 4.5 per cent, E2.68bn (£1.82bn) stake in Deutsche Telekom from KfW Bank, the German development bank, which makes it the third-largest shareholder in Deutsche Telekom.

Partners Christian Cascante and Jan Bauer led the Gleiss team, which also included employment, regulatory and tax partners. They were joined by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett corporate partners Michael Wolfson and Ryerson Symons, who advised Blackstone on US aspects of the deal.

Private equity firms were described as “a swarm of locusts” by Franz Müntefering, the then chairman of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, in 2005, but it would seem a change of government has brought a change of sentiment, as Blackstone was the government’s preferred bidder for the stake in Deutsche Telekom.

Not that the locust tag has hindered Blackstone so far. Gleiss again advised when it acquired Celanese in the biggest takeover deal of last year.