Kirkland, Dorsey, Wachtell, Gardere: Business of Law

Kirkland & Ellis LLP represented private-equity firms MidOcean Partners and Crestview Partners, which agreed to sell the Puerto Rican cable provider OneLink Communications to Liberty Global Inc. and investment funds tied to Searchlight Capital Partners LP for $585.3 million.

Dorsey & Whitney LLP represented Liberty Global, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz represented Searchlight Capital.

The Kirkland team was led by two Washington corporate partners, Mark Director and Alexander Fine. The Dorsey partners included Paul Thompson, Denver, mergers and acquisitions; Chris Bercaw, Minneapolis, corporate; and John Hollinrake, Seattle, tax. Wachtell’s lawyers were led by Steve Cohen, a New York corporate partner. Ben Roth, another New York corporate partner, also worked on the deal.

OneLink, the largest provider of cable television and high-speed data services in Puerto Rico, was purchased by MidOcean and Crestview in 2005 from Adelphia Communications, according to a statement yesterday. Under the ownership of the private-equity firms, the cable company upgraded its systems, added a high-speed Internet offering and rolled out telephone services.

The deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, bolsters Liberty Global’s cable holdings. The Englewood, Colorado-based company already has operations in 13 countries connecting 20 million households, according to its website.

Liberty currently operates the cable brands UPC, Unitymedia, Kabel BW, Telenet and VTR.

BP Sells Wyoming Gas Assets to Linn Energy for $1.03 Billion

BP Plc, the energy producer disposing of assets to help pay for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, agreed to sell its stake in Wyoming natural-gas fields to Linn Energy LLC for $1.03 billion.

Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP advised BP while Baker Botts LLP advised Linn.

The Gardere deal team representing BP was led by Doug Eyberg, energy partner. Tim Spear, energy partner, assisted along with a number of associates.

The Baker Botts team included tax partners Michael Bresson and Matt Larsen. Paul Cuomo, a litigation and antitrust partner also worked on the deal.

The deal, which includes the Jonah and Pinedale operations, brings BP’s divestitures to about $24 billion since the start of 2010, with the target remaining at $38 billion by the end of next year, the London-based company said June 25 in a statement.

“This sale will allow us to realize the value of the mature Jonah assets and reinvest in higher growth opportunities in BP’s North America gas business and elsewhere,” BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said in a statement.

BP has set aside about $37 billion to pay for the oil spill from its Macondo well, the worst in U.S. history. The company said June 1 that it plans to sell its half of TNK-BP, the Russian venture that accounts for about a quarter of the company’s global output. It also plans to sell two refineries in the U.S. by the end of the year.

For Linn, which increased production more than fourfold in the past five years, the Wyoming properties are expected to add the equivalent of 145 million cubic feet a day of gas production, the company said in a separate statement. The field holds 73 percent gas, 23 percent natural gas liquids and 4 percent oil.

“This acquisition provides Linn with a significant operated position in the Green River Basin of Wyoming and the opportunity to add employees to our staff who have hands-on experience with operations in the Jonah Field,” said Linn Chairman Mark Ellis.

Linn, based in Houston, has hedged 100 percent of the expected production from the field for approximately six years through 2017. It expects the purchase to close by July 31 and plans to finance the acquisition with proceeds from borrowings under its revolving credit facility, it said yesterday.

Separately, Linn filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission June 25 seeking to sell shares in a new company that will hold its stock and help it raise money for acquisitions. The new entity, Linn Co LLC, will be taxed as a corporation, giving it access to funds from institutional investors who currently don’t buy Linn Energy because of its partnership status. Baker Botts partners Kelly Rose and Michael Bresson handled that matter, the firm said.

Firm News

Edwards Wildman Adds Two Partners to Private Equity Leadership

Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP named Paul Mahoney and Alan Roth co-chairmen of the private equity and venture capital practice group. They join James Barrett in Boston in leading the group.

Roth’s practice is focused in the areas of venture capital and private equity representation, including SBIC licensing, investment and compliance, fund formation, corporate acquisitions, and representation of closely held corporations and individuals, the firm said. He counsels venture capitalists and private equity professionals on fund formation including becoming licensed as small business investment companies, encompassing both the pre-licensing and post-licensing stages of the process.

Mahoney advises private equity firms in their investment activities, with an emphasis on middle market leveraged acquisitions. Mahoney typically advises the portfolio company on the strategic priorities, including add-on acquisitions and dispositions, structuring management equity and other incentives, debt and equity recapitalizations and restructurings, and the company’s ultimate sale to a strategic player or financial acquirer, according to the firm.

Edwards Wildman closed 307 private equity and venture capital deals in 2011. The firm has 625 attorneys in 14 offices in the U.S., U.K. and Asia.


Music Industry Lawyer Joins Reed Smith in New York

Reed Smith LLP announced that transactional lawyer Edward H. Shapiro joined the firm’s New York office as a partner in the music industry practice. Shapiro joins from boutique entertainment law firm Grubman Indursky Shire & Meiselas PC, the firm said.

“Reed Smith lawyers have worked across the table from Ed for many years on numerous music transactions and have had a front row view of his skill and dedication in representing his clients,” Jordan Siev, the managing partner of Reed Smith’s New York office said in a statement. “He represents many top individual performers and musical groups, and has become one of the leading attorneys in the hot electronic dance music (EDM) area.”

Reed Smith has almost 1,700 lawyers in 23 offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Mckenna Long Adds IP Litigator Robert Nissen in Washington

Robert Nissen, a litigator, has joined McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP as a partner in its intellectual-property and technology practice in Washington.

Prior to joining MLA, Nissen was the managing partner at his firm, Nissen & Associates, where he practiced patent, trademark and copyright law, the firm said.

MLA’s intellectual-property and technology practice is composed of more than 50 attorneys, patent litigators and patent agents. MLA’s merged with Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP in March 2012

MLA has more than 575 attorneys and public policy advisers in 13 offices in the U.S. and Europe.


NFL Players Settle Malpractice Suit with McKool Smith

McKool Smith PC is settling a malpractice suit brought by retired members of the National Football League who claimed that $28 million awarded to them should have been higher, the Recorder newspaper said.

The former players claimed they were entitled to a share in royalties from Electronic Arts Inc. and other companies using names and images of football players, even if their own images weren’t used. The players union had argued that only active players were covered by the agreements

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who awarded the players $28 million before an appeal and settlement reduced it to $26 million, criticized the firms representing the players, including Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP, for not submitting evidence that could have increased the award, the Recorder said.

The newspaper said a Manatt attorney didn’t respond to questions about whether that firm is in settlement talks. A Bloomberg News call seeking comment wasn’t returned.

McKool Smith denied wrongdoing, and details of the settlement weren’t made public, according to the Recorder.

The case is Adderley v. National Football League Players Association, 07-943, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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