Slaughters joins Dutch duo on Philips’ latest divestment to Asian buyer

Slaughter and May joined Dutch duo De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek and Stibbe and a host of additional firms on Philips Electronics’ sale of its lifestyle entertainment business to Japanese company Funai Electric.

The €150m (£128m) deal is the latest divestment by the Dutch company in a bid to shift its global portfolio from consumer-focused business to defensive products such as lighting, healthcare and wellbeing products. A key component of the transaction is a five-year license granted by Philips to Funai for the use of the Philips brand on lifestyle entertainment products.

Philips instructed longstanding adviser De Brauw as lead counsel, with the firm’s newly elected corporate partner Gaby Smeenk leading the team in Amsterdam.

About 15 other law firms were engaged to provide legal assistance and due diligence services to Philips on this complex global carve-out, which involved businesses around the world with a total annual turnover of €1bn (£860m).

De Brauw’s UK best friend Slaughters, led by Hong Kong-based corporate partner Neil Hyman, advised Philips on Hong Kong law, while Anderson Mori & Tomotsune and Jun He acted as Japanese and Chinese counsel respectively. Argentinean firm Zaballa Carchio Abogados also play an important role.

The Japanese buyer, Funai, engaged Stibbe as its lead counsel. The Stibbe team was headed by Amsterdam corporate partners Björn van der Klip and and Eva Das as well as Brussels IP partner Erik Valgaeren.

Stibbe worked closely with Funai’s long-serving Japanese counsel Nagashima & Hashimoto.

UK law firm Origin provided specialist IP advice to the buyer.

Apart from Stibbe, Nagashima and Origin, approximately eight other firms were also involved for local law advice, including Stibbe’s former UK alliance Herbert Smith Freehills (Moscow and Singapore), Latham & Watkins (US), and King & Wood Mallesons (China and Hong Kong).

Van der Klip commented: “This is a highly complex carve-out deal from a global business. This deal also reflects the growing interest from Asian companies in European businesses. They are active in a lot of auctions, particularly in the industrial and technology sectors.”

Background to this deal:

De Brauw and its UK best friend Slaughters have been involved in several previous divestments by Philips. In 2011, the two firms co-advised on Philips’ transfer of its television business into a joint venture with Hong Kong-listed TPV Technology. The arrangement endowed TPV with a controlling 70 per cent state. De Brauw’s Smeenk and Slaughters’ Hyman were also lead partners of the respective teams.

In 2008, Slaughters’ Hyman also acted for Philips on the sale of its monitors and public signage products business to TPV Technology.

It is understood the mandate was referred to Stibbe by Japan’s Nagashima, as the two firms have previously worked together for Funai.