fivehundred magazine > M&A Yearbook 2024 > Perspectives: Lorenzo Corte

Perspectives: Lorenzo Corte

‘The deal was the most complete learning experience I could have ever hoped for’ – Skadden’s global head of transactions Lorenzo Corte on deal highlights and coming from a family of lawyers

Why did you decide to become an M&A lawyer, and has it lived up to expectations?
My great grandfather was a lawyer, my grandfather was a lawyer, my father is a lawyer. I told my parents when I finished high school that I was considering a career as a doctor… you can imagine the reaction…

What’s been your most memorable deal and why?
Mittal Steel’s hostile takeover offer for and subsequent business combination and merger with Arcelor (we acted for Arcelor). I was involved in the transaction from the first to the last day, 18 months later.

The deal was the most complete learning experience I could have ever hoped for at that stage in my career. You had everything: a board willing to put up a vigorous defence; a legal knight/squire (actually, at some point we had nine knights/squires lined up in six different jurisdictions); interaction with six securities regulators; a crown jewel/antitrust defence; intense media coverage; and also navigating regulatory and commercial issues that seemed to mushroom every day.

The bidder had to raise its price three times. Mittal’s last offer valued Arcelor at €26.9bn – it paid a 100% premium to Arcelor shareholders on Arcelor’s highest-ever share price (initially Mittal’s €18.6bn offer implied a 25% premium).

If it’s different – what’s been the most memorable deal you’ve completed during difficult market conditions?
In 2023, in a down year for M&A globally and in a very difficult year for tech companies and leveraged buyouts, we had the opportunity to advise online advertising company Adevinta and its special committee of independent directors in connection with the $13.2bn offer from funds advised by Permira and Blackstone, as well as General Atlantic and TCV, to acquire all of the outstanding ordinary shares in Adevinta, eBay and Schibsted.

Since then, with inflation and interest rates appearing to settle, companies have started to capitalise on strategic opportunities. We have started to see a resurgence of large M&A dealmaking and a growing pipeline of M&A deals, reflecting a renewed confidence in deal making as well as the adaptability of market players.

How has the role of an M&A partner changed since you started out?
I’m not sure it has; or at least it hasn’t at my firm. Partners at my firm get stuck into transactions and work on all phases of complex deals as strategic advisers to the clients. While the pace of deals has been accelerating and technology has facilitated 24/7 exchanges with clients, M&A partners at my firm have always operated on that basis, it was just harder to do so 20 years ago, and required more physical time in the office.

What are your top tips for success for those who want to become M&A stars of the future?
Gain diverse experience – seek opportunities to work on a diverse range of M&A deals, across different industries and jurisdictions. Hone your analytical abilities to assess complex business risks and opportunities.

And then, most importantly, put yourself in the shoes of your client and ask yourself, is this work product, this email, this phone call, this advice useful to me? Is it digestible? What can I do with it?

Build strong relationships over your career (externally and internally), and start from day one. Seek mentorship and continuous learning – this is an important one. It is also important to offer to mentor people coming up through the ranks too, always offer the hand up just as others have done for you.

Keep on the straight and narrow – clients value a strong moral compass.

Lorenzo Corte is global head of transactions at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.