Private Equity Push Yields Roles for Shearman, Sidley, Skadden

, The Am Law Daily


A press release announcing Westway's sale to EQT states that Dechert is advising a special committee of Westway's board. Reed Smith is advising ED&F Man Holdings—the largest shareholder in Westway—on its $115 million purchase of certain assets from the company.

In another major deal announced Friday, Sidley Austin is representing Pembroke, Bermuda–based life insurance holding company Athene, a unit of private equity giant Apollo Global Management, on its $1.8 billion purchase of the U.S. units of British insurer Aviva

Perry Shwachman, cohead of Sidley's global insurance and financial services group, is leading a team from the firm advising Athene on its acquisition of Aviva USA. Other Sidley lawyers working on the matter include corporate partner Jonathan Kelly, insurance and financial services partners Brad Drake and Andrew Holland, insurance tax cohead Tracy Williams, tax partner John Schaff, and technology transactions cohead Jeffrey Rothstein. Sidley advised Athene this summer on its $415 million purchase of Presidential Life

Willkie Farr & Gallagher corporate and financial services partners Robert Rachofsky and Donald Henderson Jr. are leading a team from his firm representing Aviva in connection with the sale of its U.S. unit. Monica Risam, a former in-house attorney at GE hired by Aviva last year as its European general counsel, is leading an internal team from the insurer working on the deal that includes head of legal M&A Neil Harrison and senior counsel Helen Welsh. Aviva's group general counsel and company secretary is Kirstine Cooper, while Richard Cohan serves as general counsel of Aviva USA.

Bloomberg reported in September that several bidders were vying for Aviva USA, including Guggenheim Partners, which earlier this week turned to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for counsel on its $1.35 billion purchase of the U.S. annuities and life insurance businesses of Canadian insurer Sun Life Financial.

Aviva also made legal news this week by filing suit against three former leaders of Dewey & LeBoeuf over a $35 million bond purchase from the now-defunct firm in 2010. Iowa's Nyemaster, Goode, West, Hansell & O'Brien is representing Aviva Life and Annuity Company in the litigation filed in federal court in Des Moines, where Aviva's U.S. arm is based.

Last year Aviva turned to Magic Circle firm Slaughter and May for counsel on the $1.6 billion sale of its roadside business to private equity firm The Carlyle Group.

As it happens, Carlyle was also busy this week, announcing its purchase of a $424 million stake in NGP Energy Capital Management and $820 million sale of auto parts manufacturer Metaldyne to fellow private equity firm American Securities.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges private equity cohead Michael Lubowitz is leading a team from the firm advising New York–based American Securities on its acquisition of Metaldyne. The Plymouth, Michigan–based company was advised by Jones Day three years ago when it was sold out of bankruptcy to Carlyle.

Kirkland & Ellis is advising Carlyle on the sale of Metaldyne. The Washington, D.C.–based private equity firm has turned to Latham & Watkins for its purchase of a 47.5 percent stake in NGP from Barclays Natural Resources Investments, a unit of London-based banking giant Barclays.

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