Simpson, Covington and Skadden take lead on Microsoft’s £4.6bn takeover of Nokia mobile phone unit

Covington & Burling, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom have taken lead roles in advising telecoms giants Microsoft and Nokia on a £4.6bn deal, which will see Nokia’s mobile phone business sold to Microsoft.

Nokia phone

Marking the second in a day of heavyweight telecoms deals, the software giant has also agreed to license Nokia’s patents and mapping services to Microsoft in a purchase set to complete early next year.

Covington and Simpson Thacher both advised Microsoft.

At Covington, corporate partners Ingrid Rechtin, Brad Chernin and IP partner Evan Cox led on the deal with antitrust partner Miranda Cole advising on EU competition law issues.

The team also included partner Louise Nash and special counsel Matthew Edwards on mobile operations. Associates Robert Wu and Anabel Lee worked on IP and commercial matters.

Partner Peter Swanson also led a litigation team with associates Allison Kerndt, Matthew Kudzin, and Ben Wiseman. Special counsel Marie Lavalleye worked on trademark and copyright while partner Lisa Peets advised on EU aspects of IP and technology. Partner Bruce Deming also advised on corporate aspects of the deal.

Meanwhile Simpson Thacher corporate partner Alan Klein is also advising Microsoft. Klein worked alongside partners Bill Brentani, Greg Grogan, Lori Lesser and Gary Mendel on the deal.

The firm has a long history with the company, having represented Microsoft in the acquisition of Skype and also in its investment in Barnes & Noble’s book business as well as its work with Yahoo.

Nokia turned to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, which put together a cross-border US and European team to advise the telecoms giant.

Partner Ken King led a corporate team, which included partners Mike Mies and Danny Tricot alongside counsel Jason Tomita. IP advice was supplied by partner David Hansen and of counsel Jim Brelsford, while partners Paul Oosterhuis and Eric Sensenbrenner advised on tax issues.

Employment advice was given by partner Joe Yaffe and of counsel Helena Derbyshire, while competition matters were dealt with by partners Frederic Depoortere, Steven Sunshine and Alec Chang and counsel Giorgio Motta.

Finnish firm Roschier has confirmed it was lead Finnish counsel for Nokia, which is Finnish listed, on IP and technology matters. The team was led by partners Mikko Manner, Paula Linna, Jon Unnérus, Manne Airaksinen and Gunnar Westerlund.

Nokia’s long-time counsel Shearman & Sterling has worked with Nokia on many of its high-stakes mergers and acquisitions in recent years but is not understood to be working on the main bulk of the deal.

The firm advised Nokia in July 2013 (3 July 2013) when the company bought Siemens’ 50 per cent stake in joint-owned Nokia Siemens Network for $1.7bn (£1.5bn).

The Nokia sale is Microsoft’s second largest acquisition to date, after the $9.1bn purchase of Skype in 2011. It comes just a day after Verizon’s acquisition of Vodafone’s 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless anounced yesterday (2 September 2013). Taken together the two deals pushed M&A activity in the telecoms sector to the highest level since 2006, Reuters said.