Cadwalader and Simpson Thacher scoop Microsoft bid for Yahoo!

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has assembled a top tier M&A team to help Microsoft win its $44.6bn battle for Yahoo!

The firm’s three-partner team is led by global head of M&A Casey Cogut. It also includes the former head of Simpson’s London office, Alan Klein as well as partner Kathryn King Sudol.

Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft has also secured a key role on the year’s biggest deal so far, advising Microsoft on the antitrust implications of a merger that would see two of the three largest players in the online search market combine. Cadwalader’s head of antitrust, Rick Rule is advising longstanding client Microsoft.

The lawyer tasked with defending Yahoo! is Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s Palo Alto-based partner, Ken King. Yahoo! is also a longstanding client of Skadden’s, with the $350m acquisition of Zimbra, the $300m acquisition of
BlueLithium and the $4bn 40 per cent stake in recent highlight transactions for the firm.

None of the firms involved would comment on the deal. However, Clifford Chance partner and US head of finance and restructuring, Evan Cohen said it offered “a good message” for the M&A market.

“I think it’s a good sign that big deals involving both debt and equity are still being done,” Cohen said. “We’re probably seeing more strategic deals than private equity-led deals now as financing’s so tight, making it harder to borrow. But this shows that if the strategic deals make sense, companies are prepared to use their balance sheets.”

Microsoft’s unsolicited bid for Yahoo! became public last
Friday (1 February) in a letter from the company’s chief executive, Steve Ballmer to Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang.

It proposed a cash-and-shares offer worth $31 a share, representing a 62 per cent premium to Yahoo!’s closing share price on Thursday (31 January).