A&O, Cleary and Linklaters in the mix as CVC buys Campbell Soup

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has taken the lead role for private equity house CVC Capital Partners as it finalises its acquisition of the European activities of the Campbell Soup company.

A cross-office team from Cleary, including Brussels partners Laurent Legein and Jacques Reding, Paris-based Jean-Marie Ambrosi and London finance partner David Billington are advising the investment house on the proposed acquisition, which is set to complete early next year.

The deal will see CVC acquire the European part of Campbell Soup, excluding activities in the UK, Ireland, the Middle East and Africa. Campbell Europe owns various consumer brands of soup, sauces and bouillons and in the last fiscal year generated sales of €400m. The Belgian-headquartered company employs 1,300 people.

Allen & Overy is acting for Campbell Soup. Belgian corporate partner Pierre-Olivier Mahieu led the team, alongside employment partner Pieter De Koster, tax partner Patrick Smet and environmental law partner Gauthier van Thuyne.

Linklaters’ Brussels partner David Ballegeer is leading a team advising Rabobank, ING and BNP Paribas Fortis, who are joint underwriters and bookrunners to CVC’s senior debt financing for the deal.

Cleary’s Billington said: “This deal is a good example of how the market for European buyouts has continued to strengthen as the year has progressed, and the pipeline of transactions for the second half is building. While debt markets in the first half of 2013 were dominated by high yield, bank-underwritten term loan packages are returning in earnest as a welcome source of capital for the leveraged buyout market.”

Background to the deal:

CVC has traditionally turned to magic circle firms Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Europe, although earlier this year (19 April 2013) German firm Hengeler Mueller picked up a mandate on a €3.1bn buyout.

Freshfields has also previously advised Campbell Soup, notably on the 2006 acquisition of the company’s UK and Ireland businesses by Premier Foods (24 July 2006).