Skadden, Freshfields, Davis Polk, Loeb: Business of Law

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP was the top adviser on all announced deals worldwide and number one in the U.S. through the third quarter, according to the latest League Tables compiled by Bloomberg News.

“It has been a reasonably strong market for the first nine months,” Mike Rogan, global co-head of Skadden’s corporate transactions practices, said in an interview. There has been a lot going on in health care and some concentration in energy, he said, but “our deals are pretty broad spectrum, cross-border and domestic.”

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP held the top spot in market share for announced value of deals in the European, Middle-Eastern and African region, while Mori Hamada & Matsumoto was the top law firm adviser in the Asia-Pacific region through the third quarter.

Stock market valuations have risen in the U.S. and U.K., though year-to-date global merger and acquisition activity is down from 2011, Bloomberg’s M&A newsletter reported. Total deal volume was down 18 percent in the year through Sept. 30 compared to the same period in 2011. The relative geographic distribution of targets was largely unchanged in 2012, with similar volume declines in the four most active regions, according to the newsletter.

Skadden Arps had 12.2 percent of the market share worldwide with $185.4 million in announced value of deals. In U.S. deals, Skadden had 17.5 percent of the market share with $124.2 billion in announced value of deals. In its two biggest deals this year, the firm advised Anheuser-Busch InBev NV on its merger with Grupo Modelo SAB, and Pfizer Inc., whose infant-nutrition unit agreed to be acquired by Nestle SA. The firm was fourth in the European, Middle-Eastern and Africa ranking of advisers and second in Asia-Pacific deal advisers.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP was second in U.S. deals with 15.8 percent of the market share and $110 billion in its announced value of deals. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Kirkland & Ellis LLP were tied at 13.1 percent in market share for U.S. deals, with the former firm having $91.2 billion and the latter $90.9 billion in announced value on U.S. deals. Latham & Watkins LLP was in fifth place, followed by Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Jones Day, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and White & Case LLP.

Freshfields had 21.5 percent of the market share as EMEA legal advisers with $133.5 billion. Linklaters LLP and Clifford Chance LLP were second and third respectively. Linklaters also broke into the three figures mark in the EMEA chart, with $121 billion in the announced value of deals. Sullivan, Weil and White & Case also made the top 10 for EMEA deals.

Among Asia-Pacific legal advisers, Mori Hamada & Matsumoto had 9.7 percent of the market share and $46.6 billion in announced value of deals.

Mining and energy deals accounted for four of the top 10 deals in the quarter, including Glencore International Plc’s increased offer for Xstrata Plc and Cnooc Ltd.’s agreement to buy Nexen Inc.

Edward Braham, head of global corporate practice at Freshfields, was optimistic about the future.

“The M&A market hasn’t been plain sailing, particularly as a result of fragile equity and debt markets denting boardroom confidence,” he said. “However, absent major shocks we should see some pickup between now and early next year, especially where higher growth markets are involved,”

While that may be the case in Europe, Skadden’s Rogan said he isn’t optimistic about the fourth quarter in the U.S. because of the election.

“There’s a little more uncertainty, so people are going to be cautious.”

Davis Polk Advises Mitsubishi UFJ Lease in Jackson SquareDeal

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP advised Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Co. in its agreement to buy Oaktree Capital Group LLC’s Jackson Square Aviation LCC aircraft-leasing company for 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion). Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP represent Oaktree Capital.

The Davis Polk corporate team includes partner Phillip R. Mills. Additional partners include Juliet Cain, aircraft leasing and financing; Kyoko Takahashi Lin, executive retention advice; Kathleen L. Ferrell, tax; and John B. Reynolds III, CFIUS advice.

Kirkland partner Damon Fisher leads the firm’s team of lawyers advising Oaktree. Paul, Weiss lawyers were led by corporate partners Neil Goldman, Ken Schneider and Kaye Yoshino.

Mayer Brown LLP advised JSA and Oaktree Capital on aircraft regulatory aspects of the transaction. The team included finance partners Robert Barnard and George Miller.

The Japanese lessor will complete the purchase of JSA International Holdings LP, owner of Jackson Square, in December, according to a statement from Tokyo-based Mitsubishi UFJ Lease Oct. 4.

Japan’s financial companies are expanding in aircraft leasing amid growing aviation in Asia and cutbacks by European banks wrestling with a credit crunch. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Japan’s second-largest bank by market value, bought Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s aircraft-leasing unit this year, while Orix Corp.’s aviation unit plans to increase customers by 50 percent.

Mitsubishi UFJ Lease is an affiliate of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan’s biggest publicly traded bank. The lessor gets business referrals from both Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mitsubishi Corp., the Tokyo-based trading company, both of which are major shareholders, according to Standard & Poor’s.

Firm News

Loeb & Loeb Opens Hong Kong Office, Enters Local Alliance

Loeb & Loeb LLP opened a Hong Kong office at the same time entering into an exclusive association with Hong Kong-based solicitors’ firm Pang & Co.

Benny Pang, managing partner of Pang & Co., will be joining Loeb & Loeb’s capital markets department as a partner and anchoring the new Hong Kong office. Loeb & Loeb partner Lawrence Venick will move from the firm’s Beijing office to work in the Hong Kong office.

“Hong Kong has been a key part of our strategic growth plan in Asia for some time,” Loeb & Loeb Chairman Michael D. Beck said in a statement. “The Hong Kong office and the association with Pang & Co. will offer our clients access to an important business market that is a major player in the global economy.”

Pang & Co., which will be in the same space as Loeb & Loeb, has 16 staff that include Hong Kong and U.S. qualified attorneys, solicitors and paralegals. The team will work in association with Loeb & Loeb’s Hong Kong office, as well as the firm’s Beijing and U.S. offices, focusing on capital markets transactions and regulatory advice in Greater China, the firm said. The offices will also handle IPOs in both the Main Board and the Growth Enterprise Market of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, as well as mergers and acquisitions and general corporate and commercial transactions.

Pang is a Hong Kong qualified solicitor and focuses on equity capital markets and mergers and acquisitions. He has worked on a range of corporate transactions with private and public companies.

Venick’s practice focuses on the representation of both public and private emerging growth companies, as well as financial institutions.

Loeb & Loeb’s has more than 300 attorneys with seven offices in China and the U.S.

Buchanan Ingersoll Opens Charlotte Office With New Team

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC announced that it will open a Charlotte, North Carolina, office with three banking and finance lawyers from Kirk, Palmer & Thigpen LLP, including shareholder Mike Wielechowski, who will lead the office.

“With major clients in the financial services sector, we have been looking for the right team to run an office in Charlotte, and Mike was the perfect choice to lead that team at the right time.” Buchanan’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Shareholder Jack Barbour said.

Wielechowski moved to Charlotte from Pittsburgh seven years ago, after working in-house at PNC Bank, the firm said. In his private practice, he has handled syndicated loans, midmarket deals and bilateral deals for clients in the financial services industry, including PNC Bank and Fifth Third Bank, the firm said. His primary areas of practice are finance, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, general corporate representation and corporate compliance.

Wielechowski plans to double the number of attorneys in the office in the next year.

Buchanan Ingersoll has more than 450 attorneys and government relations professionals in 14 U.S. offices.


Jefferies Lawyer Joins Stroock & Stroock in Los Angeles

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP hired Frank A. Merola in the financial restructuring practice group as a partner in the Los Angeles office.

Merola joins Stroock from investment banking firm Jefferies & Co., where he was a managing director in the Recapitalization and Reorganization Group. His recent representations included the Trustees of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust; the Debtors in ATP Oil & Gas, Crusader Energy and Insight Health; the Official Committees of Unsecured Creditors in Tronox Inc., Herbst Gaming, Innkeepers USA Trust and MSR Resorts Golf Course LLC; and creditor groups in Gateway Casinos and Fontainebleau Las Vegas, the firm said.

Prior to Jefferies, Merola was with the Los Angeles boutique Stutman, Treister & Glatt PC for more than 20 years.

Aisha Hunt Joins Dechert as Financial Services Partner

Dechert LLP hired Aisha Hunt, who joined the firm’s San Francisco office as a partner in the financial services practice. Hunt was most recently with Cole-Frieman Mallon & Hunt LLP, where she headed the ’40 Act Practice with a focus on alternative mutual funds, the firm said.

Hunt advises investment managers and registered funds on complex investment management issues, including new product initiatives and risk assessment and mitigation strategies.

Jones Day Hires Douglas Weinstein From Finnegan Henderson

Jones Day hired Douglas Weinstein for its intellectual-property practice, the law firm said in a statement.

Weinstein, who joins from Washington’s Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP, does patent and trade secrets litigation. He has represented clients in the electrical, computer and telecommunications industries.

He previously served as the managing partner of Finnegan’s Taipei office.

K&L Gates Expands in Dubai with Corporate Partner Momany

The Dubai office of K&L Gates LLP hired Omar Momany as a partner in the corporate practice. Momany joins the firm from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, the firm said.

His practice includes mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings, corporate governance, arbitration, and joint ventures both in the UAE and the Middle East region, Momany advises international and domestic clients, investment funds, banks, and private and public companies in the real estate, financial services, transportation, and retail sectors.

K&L Gates’ Middle East corporate practice now has four partners across the firm’s Dubai and Doha offices.

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