Lewis Silkin and Osborne Clarke lead as Publicis buys out Levi Strauss’s ad agency

Lewis Silkin has acted opposite Osborne Clarke as lead counsel to Publicis Groupe on its acquisition of the remaining 51 per cent stake of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), the advertising agency famous for the Levi Strauss and Johnnie Walker adverts.

French advertising group Publicis initially acquired a 49 per cent stake in BBH back in 2002 as part of a deal that saw the French advertising group acquire US rival Bcom3 for $3bn (£1.9bn).

For the most recent acquisition, the Lewis Silkin team was led by corporate partner Paul Rajput, alongside corporate tax partner Sharon Brennan and corporate associates Helen Ewing and Stephen O’Mahony.

BBH retained Osborne Clarke, with senior partner Tim Birt leading the team there alongside tax partner Philip Moss, corporate associate Frank Riley and corporate solicitor Helen Reed. Osborne Clarke has been a longstanding counsel to BBH and advised the agency on a number of M&A deals, including the sale of its 49 per cent stake to Publicis in 2002.

Press reports suggest the 51 per cent stake is valued at around €100m (£79.6m).

The acquisition also followed the news that Publicis has acquired 66 per cent shares of Neogama/BBH, a Brazilian advertising agency in which BBH previously owned a 34 percent stake.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher advised Publicis on the Brazilian transaction. São Paulo-based partner Lisa Alfaro led the team, which included of counsel Fernando Almeida and New York-based associate Vince Ruiz. Veirano Advogados advised Publicis on the Brazilian law aspects of the transaction.

Lilla Huck Otranto Camargo Advogados advised the sellers of BBH and Neogama, with Carol Saposnic Grunkraut acting as the main partner on the deal.

Santos Neto & Montgomery acted for BBH. Neil Montgomery, who moved from Felsberg e Associados to Brazilian rival Santos Neto Montgomery just last month, acted as lead counsel.

Lewis Silkin also acted on on the UK aspects of this transaction.

The Neogama/BBH acquisition follows the appointment last March of corporate lawyer Carlos Eduardo de Castro Neves from Lilla Huck Otranto Camargo Advogados as legal director of Publicis’ Brazilian legal division in São Paulo. His appointment was made in response to the growing importance of the the company’s’ operations in Brazil and made him the group’s first legal head in Latin America.

In 2004 Publicis launched a UK legal function following the appointment of Elizabeth Kiernan as its first UK legal head (13 April 2004).