You know what they say – you wait all summer for a hefty telecoms M&A deal and then two come along at once. Last week saw Microsoft buy up Nokia’s mobile phone unit for £4.6bn and Vodafone rake in £84bn by selling off Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett was particularly popular, advising both Vodafone and Microsoft.
The mood in public M&A has been cautious over the summer, with boards reticent to sign up for big new investments, but the threat of a rise in interest rates and the end of cheap borrowing has led to a recent surge in deals.
The weighty sell-offs churned up a flurry of activity for a number of firms, with Macfarlanes, Slaughter and May and Wachtell Lipton all involved in the Vodafone/Verizon deal while Covington & Burling and Skadden were involved in Microsoft’s Nokia purchase, the company’s second largest acquisition to date.
The ‘size matters’ attitude was also reflected in the football transfer window, which generated more excitement than usual following Gareth Bale’s record £85.3m transfer to Real Madrid. Berwin Leighton Paisner and Fladgate were closest to the action, both advising Bale.
Telecoms continued to be the name of the game in the real estate market, with telecoms and media start-ups driving investment towards East London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’. SJ Berwin took the lead on British Land’s agreement to redevelop the Shoreditch Estate from the City of London Corporation, following several high-profile deals in the area last month.
It looks like it’s back to school for the deals market at last. Lawyers will be keeping their eyes peeled – and their phones switched on – for the next lot of big transactions coming over the horizon.