Tag: Latham & Watkins

Latham becomes the first $5bn law firm club member as revenue soars 27%

Latham & Watkins has become the first law firm to break the $5bn revenue barrier as turnover spiked 26.7% to $5.489bn in the 2021/22 financial year.

Profit per partner also saw a comparable 26% surge to $5.71m from $4.52 last year.

The figures released on 21 March easily eclipsed last year’s still impressive results, which saw turnover increase 15% to $4.33bn from $3.768. Global lawyer headcount has also seen a notable increase, rising by 8% to 3,078, while revenue per lawyer grew 18% from $1.52m to $1.78m.

Global chair Rich Trobman hailed the results as a vindication of the firm’s overarching strategy: ‘2021 was another successful year for the firm and we are pleased with our strong performance and achievements. Our long-term vision, deep and diversified platform, and commitment to client service helped grow demand for our legal services across practices and markets. We combined our worldwide resources with the best talent, sector knowledge, and experience to drive positive outcomes for our clients across all industries.

‘I am particularly proud of the resilience and hard work of our people and how we have supported one another throughout the year, all the while staying focused on our clients and their evolving needs. Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in our global platform, execute on our strategy, and deliver great client service.’

The firm does not habitually release regional profit breakdowns, but the London office is understood to have posted a 30% jump in revenue, which would take the office’s top line to around $700m, further enhancing its reputation as one of the most potent foreign practices in the high-end UK legal market. Such a figure would comfortably outstrip last year’s estimation, which suggested a 20% increase up to around $540m.

There has been no shortage of investment in London either –seven lateral hires have been recruited over the course of the year. The majority of these came in the finance, capital markets and corporate groups, including Bruce Bell (restructuring, Linklaters), Paul Dolman (PE, Travers Smith), Thomas Bartlett (project finance, White & Case), Alex Martin (structured finance, Weil, Gostshal & Manges) and Shawn Anderson (capital markets, Kirkland). Elsewhere, James Lloyd (Orrick) and Helen Lethaby (Freshfields) joined the data privacy and tax groups respectively.

In addition to lateral hires, the firm is increasing its commitment to internal growth in the city. Nine London associates were part of the 2022 partner promotion round, five of whom have spent their whole career at firm.

On the transactional side, M&A, capital markets banking all recorded double-digit growth, as did the emerging companies practice and public company practices. Disputes, general litigation, antitrust, IP, securities and professional liability were similarly bullish.

The key sectors driving activity were reflective of the market more generally. Technology, healthcare and life science and energy were all up compared to last year, as were financial institutions, retail and media.

Latham’s numbers have been released amid anticipation that long-time rival Kirkland & Ellis will also surpass the $5bn revenue mark in the coming weeks.

The rivals routinely battle for top spot among the global elite, with Kirkland last year striding out in front by around $500m.

charles.avery@legalease.co.uk

This story first appeared on Legal Business

Dealwatch: Latham and Linklaters bet on £2.2bn William Hill disposal as £1.2bn easyJet rights issue flies

While it could hardly be said to have slowed down over summer, the deal market has nevertheless ramped up since the beginning of September with easyJet’s £1.2bn rights issue and Caesars’ £2.2bn disposal of William Hill’s international business among the more high-profile recent transactions.

Latham & Watkins and Linklaters won lead roles as 888 Holdings agreed to acquire the international business – the non-US assets – of William Hill at an enterprise value of £2.2bn.

The deal was the result of a hotly-contested auction process run by Deutsche Bank and followed on from the closing in April this year of Caesars Entertainment’s £2.9bn takeover of William Hill with a view to building out its US business, a buyout originally announced in October 2020.

Ed Barnett, the Latham relationship partner for 888 who led on the deal, told Legal Business: ‘This was a very competitive process. Caesars had made it clear to the market that it was going to sell the non-US assets of William Hill, so it was expected to be competitive. Deutsche Bank ran a very successful auction. We understand bidders were mostly comprised of private equity houses but also some private equity and strategic combinations. It’s obviously a very well-known, longstanding brand and so it is a real asset in the space and once the deal closes it’s expected to put 888 in a strong position as a significantly bulked-up business.’

Barnett was also bullish on the wider market outlook: ‘There’s certainly been a lot of activity in the gaming sector in the UK and US and you’re going to continue to see transactional activity, SPAC-related deals and tie-ups between US and European/UK businesses in the gaming space. As individual states in the US relax gaming-related regulations we anticipate more activity. It’s a very hot sector in which Latham has been, and will continue to be, very active.’

Latham corporate partner Sam Newhouse also advised on the deal, while Anna Ngo dealt with capital markets matters, Jay Sadanandan and James Burnett provided finance advice and Jonathan Parker gave antitrust advice. Employment and benefits matters were handled by partner Sarah Gadd, IP by Deborah Kirk, tax by Helen Lethaby and real estate matters by Quentin Gwyer.

The Latham team advised in conjunction with 888’s long-term counsel, Israeli firm Herzog Fox & Neeman, whose team was led by managing partner Gil White. The Linklaters team advising Caesars was led by London corporate partner Iain Fenn.

Meanwhile, the £1.2bn rights issue of easyJet also piqued market interest and provided instructions for teams from Herbert Smith Freehills, Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance.

The rights issue, the largest such transaction in the UK this year, will see funds raised to increase the resilience of easyJet’s balance sheet and to fund strategic investments as air travel recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Herbert Smith team advising easyJet was led by head of UK equity capital markets Mike Flockhart and global co-head of corporate Stephen Wilkinson. Head of US securities Tom O’Neill and counsel Dennis Hermreck provided US securities advice. The easyJet legal team was led by GC Maaike de Bie.

HSF’s Mike Flockhart noted of the transaction: ‘easyJet’s rights issue demonstrates that the markets will continue to endorse companies with solid fundamentals, effective leadership and strong brands, notwithstanding the impact of Covid.’

A&O is advising Greenhill and BNP Paribas as joint sponsors; BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs as joint global co-ordinators; and Santander and Société Générale as joint bookrunners on the rights issue, with James Roe and Jeff Hendrickson leading the team.

The firm is also advising BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Santander and Société Générale as lenders under easyJet’s new revolving credit facility, announced simultaneously with the rights issue, led by A&O’s head of aviation finance, Paul Nelson.

A&O has advised easyJet’s financiers on a number of matters since the start of the pandemic, including acting for the underwriters on the company’s £400m equity cashbox placing in June 2020, advising UK Export Finance (UKEF) and the lenders on $1.87bn combined UKEF and EDG commercial facility in January – the first-ever secured transaction under the UKEF Export Development Guarantee scheme, and advising the dealers and trustee on easyJet’s £1.2bn bond issue in February 2021.

CC acted for easyJet on matters relating to shareholder enfranchisement with a team led by partners Daud Kahn and Melissa Fogarty.

Elsewhere and continuing the transport theme, RAC and its shareholders – including funds managed or advised by CVC Capital Partners and GIC – sold a stake in the UK breakdown assistance provider to Silver Lake.

Together with GIC and CVC, Silver Lake will support RAC in its goal of further improving its digital capabilities and leveraging its data to provide more innovative products and services for RAC members and partners to accelerate growth.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised longstanding clients RAC and the selling shareholders with a team led by partners Alastair Brown and Charles Hayes.

Travers Smith acted for the management team of RAC with private equity and financial sponsors Partner Adam Orr leading and tax advice provided by partners Hannah Manning and Russell Warren.

Meanwhile Baker McKenzie advised Silver Lake on the acquisition of its stake, led by partner David Allen, with the team also including finance partner Matt Cox and antitrust partners Luis Gomez and Sam Mobley.

Finally, funds advised by Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus acquired T-Mobile Netherlands Holding from Deutsche Telekom and Tele2, giving the company an enterprise value of €5.1bn.

Freshfields and Simpson Thacher advised WP/AP Telecom Holdings IV, an entity jointly controlled by funds advised by Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus, on the acquisition. The Freshfields team was led by partners Markus Paul and Shawn der Kinderen, and James Howe led the London Simpson Thacher team, with Ian Barratt acting on the debt aspects of the acquisition.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

This news story first appeared on Legal Business.

Dealwatch: Weil and Mayer Brown scoop leads on Nestlé’s $4bn US ice cream business sale

Weil Gotshal & Manges and Mayer Brown have advised on the sale of Nestlé’s US ice cream business to Froneri for $4bn.

Froneri is an ice cream focused joint venture by Nestlé and PAI Partners created in 2016. The deal means that brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Edy’s, Drumstick and Dreyer’s will join its portfolio which already includes Movenpick, Green & Blacks and Cadbury’s ice cream.

Weil advised Froneri with a team led by London managing partner Michael Francis and included London private equity partner Jonathan Wood, head of the technology and IP transactions practice Barry Fishley and banking partner Tom Richards.

Mayer Brown advised Nestle with a team led out of the US by partners David Carpenter, John Boelter and Michelle Gross.

Carpenter told Legal Business: ‘Nestlé has already contributed to the ice cream business in different parts of the world through this joint venture. The buyer is actually 50% owned by Nestlé and so it’s moving the ice cream business into a company that has a private equity partner. It will be focused on ice cream rather than being part of a big conglomerate.’

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised private equity firm CVC Capital Partners on the acquisition of a stake in WebPros Group by CVC Fund VII from Oakley Capital Private Equity and other investors.

WebPros is a web hosting automation software provider for server management and includes web hosting platforms cPanel and Plesk and web hosting management and billing software WHMCS.

The Freshfields team was led by global co-head of financial sponsors Charles Hayes, co-head of European leveraged finance Alex Mitchell and corporate and M&A lawyer Vincent Bergin.

Kirkland & Ellis advised Oakley Capital on the sale led by London corporate partners Rory Mullarkey and Jacob Traff as well as Ben Leyendeckerin Munich.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Elsewhere, White & Case advised on the $25.6bn IPO of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), making it the world’s largest IPO. The company began trading on the Saudi Arabian Tadawul Stock Exchange on Wednesday 11 December under TADAWUL: ARAMCO.

The offering included subscriptions from institutions and individuals, comprising of SAR 446bn ($119bn). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sold 3bn shares of Saudi Aramco which accounted for 1.5% Saudi Aramco’s share capital.

The White & Case team was led by Dubai partner Sami Al-Louzi and included London partners Inigo Esteve, capital markets partner Alexander Underwood, Ronan O’Reilly and employment compensation and benefits lawyer Jack Gardener. The Law Office of Megren Al-Shaalan also advised Aramco with a team led by Megren Al-Shaalan and Doug Peel and included London capital markets partner Ibrahim Soumrany.

The $1.7trn valuation makes Saudi Aramco the largest company by market capitalisation. Over 400 White & Case lawyers from around 20 offices advised Saudi Aramco on the transaction.

Latham & Watkins advised the underwriters of Saudi Aramco on non-Saudi law matters. The team was led by New York partners Marc Jaffe and Ian Schuman and included London partner Craig Nethercott. London partners James Inness and Jeremy Green offered advice on corporate matters, Chirag Sanghrajka advised on finance, Rob Moulton advised on regulatory matters while Karl Mah advised on tax.

Prior to the listing, the largest IPO spot was held by Alibaba Group Holding Limited which listed in September 2014 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for $21.8bn.

Finally, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) on the $450m acquisition of a 25.1% stake in Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) from Adani Transmission Limited as well as a shareholder subordinated debt investment by QIA in AEML.

AEML is part of Adani Group, an integrated business conglomerate based in India which includes six publicly traded companies, focusing on resources, logistics, energy and agriculture.

The Cleary team was led by London partners Tihir Sarkar and Nallini Puri.

Puri told Legal Business: ‘QIA is a very big investor to be partnering with. The Adani Group is a big group with lots of diversified interests and historically they’ve engaged in a lot of acquisitions, particularly within India. India’s done less with foreign investors. In some ways this is a very significant partnership for them because they’ve tied up with a very high profile investor.’

AEMl was advised by Indian firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas led by partners from the Mumbai office.

The deal is expected to close in early 2020 subject to customary conditions and regulatory approval.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

This article first appeared on Legal Business.

Latham & Watkins’ Global Affinity Groups

From parent lawyers to female lawyers to first-generation professionals, Latham & Watkins wants its lawyers and professional staff to feel supported and included, regardless of background or personal circumstances. The firm has created eight global affinity groups for lawyers, which, essentially, do what they say on the tin: allow colleagues who share an affinity in terms of a particular life experience (or are in support of those that do) to come together, have a forum to air their voices, and share strategies for professional success. 

The Lex 100 spoke with Jonathan Ritson-Candler, associate and co-head of Latham’s London LGBTQ Lawyers Group, and Chidi Onyeche, associate and co-head of the firm’s Black Lawyers Group in London, to learn more.

Open to all trainees and lawyers, the affinity groups are overseen by the firm’s Diversity Leadership Committee (DLC), comprised of partners, counsel, and associates from around the globe. The DLC spearheads Latham’s global diversity and inclusion strategy and initiatives, working to strengthen and promote the firm as a workplace where the best and brightest lawyers from all groups, including those traditionally underrepresented in the legal industry, excel and find the opportunities and support to fulfil their potential to become firm and industry leaders. Each affinity group has both global and local leaders, primarily associates. This leadership structure ensures that members can feel comfortable speaking up about any issues they may be facing. ‘The idea is that this isn’t just another iteration of partners overseeing what you do’, explains Jonathan.

Latham encourages broad participation in its affinity groups, all of which welcome allies. ‘I joined the Black Lawyers Group pretty much straight after joining the firm, and I’ve been very involved from the time I was a trainee’, says Chidi. In fact, potential trainees are even exposed to the affinity groups during the recruitment process. ‘I completed a vacation scheme in 2014, and Latham’s dedication to diversity, and in particular to black lawyers, was something that stuck out to me; it was one of the major factors why I chose to pursue a training contract here’.

Lateral-hire Jonathan joined the LGBTQ Lawyers Group in order to get to know his new firm: ‘I thought it would be a nice way to get more exposure to the firm, meet more people and get embedded a bit quicker. And that’s definitely been the case’.

Being an affinity group member has myriad benefits, one of which is exposure to Latham colleagues and firm leaders globally. ‘You automatically start building a network, so that even in a huge firm like Latham, you have an immediate route to getting to know people, meaning you don’t feel cut off from it all’, says Jonathan. ‘Incidentally, you’ll end up working with colleagues across the global network in any event, so it’s another great way to put a face to a name’. Chidi agrees. Every two years, the Black Lawyers Group invites its members to a global firm-sponsored retreat. There are engaging and inspiring discussions from firm leaders, affinity group members and allies. For example, this past September, the Black Lawyers Group retreat was held in Chicago, where attendees were able to visit the Obama Foundation to understand some of the great work that is happening there. Not only is it a perfect chance to catch up with colleagues and friends from around the globe, and meet new ones, group members also provide strategic input on how to best achieve the group’s overall aims of recruitment, retention and promotion of black talent across the firm’s network. Through this retreat, Chidi and other members of the Black Lawyers Group have been able to get to know firm leaders, forming invaluable connections. ‘There’s a certain sense of power (far above my paygrade!) which comes from speaking to them and getting to know them and them getting to know me’.

The local leaders of the LGBTQ Lawyers Group for each office get together on a global call once a quarter. ‘If someone’s in Hong Kong and another in Los Angeles, there’s never going to be a good time to have a call, but people are pretty good at turning up. It’s really gratifying to see the global commitment to diversity play out’, enthuses Jonathan. There are also quarterly catch-up calls for the various global sub-committees within the group, networking events where members are encouraged to bring their significant others and an all-affinity group lunch once a year.

There are plenty of opportunities to get together in the London office too. The Black Lawyers Group recently hosted a series of talks to coincide with Black History Month. ‘We had one talk about social media, which looked at members’ LinkedIn profiles and online presence. The idea was to ensure that clients who were considering coming to Latham would see that our lawyers’ online profiles were well thought-out’, explains Chidi. The next talk will be a financial planning session, something which has historically been a challenge for the black community. ‘The hope is to help members understand how best to utilise the wealth that we have, so that it can be preserved and also grow. We need to make sure that we start building generational wealth’.

Furthering its commitment to supporting the diverse needs of lawyers and staff, Latham recently rolled out significant benefits enhancements in the UK that make it easier to access more inclusive medical care and plan a family. These include financial support for transgender transitions and fertility treatment such as IVF, elective egg/sperm freezing, private maternity delivery services, and for surrogacy and adoption.

There’s no doubt that the success of Latham’s affinity groups can largely be attributed to the sheer amount of effort expended by their dedicated leaders and members. Organising events and activities, many of which involve international offices, requires unwavering commitment, which is no mean feat for City lawyers who are also juggling heavy client workloads. But there is always someone on hand to take over if an urgent matter crops up.

Impressively, the firm has also attributed bonus-eligible credits to diversity initiatives. ‘Not only is my team really supportive, but the firm more broadly is supportive because there are file codes to which you can record your time which are counted as part of your bonus calculation, as long as certain conditions are met’, elaborates Jonathan.

Stand-out moments

Black Lawyers Group 

The Black Lawyers Group’s global retreats have definitely been highlights for Chidi. ‘The first global retreat was in Washington, D.C.; I was a trainee at the time and was on secondment in Singapore. The firm paid for my flights from Singapore to London and then onto Washington, D.C. It was fantastic. Sometimes you can get really siloed within your department and within the firm, and then you realise that there’s actually something much bigger at work. In D.C. and, more recently at our retreat in Chicago, it was great to see so many amazing black lawyers and allies who support the whole mission in one place talking about how we can do better, be better and encourage diversity and inclusion in general.’

LGBTQ Lawyers Group 

For Jonathan, arranging a LGBTQ Lawyers Group event to coincide with London Pride really stands out. ‘We rented an event space on Piccadilly in London, which had a balcony and a view of the parade. It was a client event, and both clients and Latham employees could bring their children and partners. This was the second year we had hosted this event, and there were about 200 clients and 100 Latham employees – it was the most well-attended client event the firm in London had ever hosted. It’s definitely taken on a life of its own, with people asking us if we will be hosting it next year too. We hope to. In fact, we’re even talking about how to make it even better!’

 

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

With news this weekend that Thomas Cook is on the brink of collapse and has ceased trading with immediate effect, a number of global elite firms have been lined up to advise on the latest high-profile collapse of a household name.

Ashurst is advising  the Official Receiver as well as AlixPartners and KPMG, which were appointed as special managers in respect of certain Thomas Cook entities, while Slaughter and May and Latham & Watkins are advising Thomas Cook. Insolvency practitioners from AlixPartners have been appointed as special managers over the airline and tour operator companies, while practitioners from KPMG have been appointed as special managers to the group’s retail division and to its aircraft maintenance companies.

Giles Boothman, Olga Galazoula and Lynn Dunne are leading the Ashurst team, with Crowley Woodford and Ruth Buchanan advising on the employment law aspects and Derwin Jenkinson, Tom Mercer and James Fletcher focusing on the corporate side. Meanwhile, the Slaughters team is being led by Tom Vickers and the Latham team is headed by partners Nick Cline, John Houghton and James Inness.

A Reed Smith team from the UK, Germany and the US are advising the Civil Aviation Authority in relation to the insolvency. The Civil Aviation Authority and AlixPartners will work together to deal with the repatriation of all stranded customers. The team is led by partners Richard Spafford who is advising on licensing and regulatory issues, Charlotte Møller leads on the insolvency law and contingency planning for the repatriation, while Nick Williams is advising on the financial aspects.

Chief executive of Thomas Cook Peter Fankhauser commented: ‘We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook’s future for its employees, customers and suppliers.  Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.’

In July, a team led by restructuring partner Ian Johnson, financing partner Ed Fife and corporate partner Richard Smith from Slaughters and a team from Latham & Watkins advised Thomas Cook Group in relation to the proposed recapitalisation plan.

Thomas Cook was looking for a £750m investment and was in talks with its largest shareholder, Fosun Tourism Group, as well as the company’s core lenders on a substantial new capital investment as part of a proposed recapitalisation and separation of the group.

Muna.abdi@legalbusiness.co.uk

This article first appeared on legalbusiness.co.uk.