Private Equity Push Yields Roles for Shearman, Sidley, Skadden

, The Am Law Daily

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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.

Latham M&A partners David Dantzic and Nicholas Luongo, investment management regulatory partner Barton Clark, fund formation partner Nadia Sager, and tax partner Cheryl Coe are all advising Carlyle on the deal with Barclays. Latham has long-standing ties to Carlyle, whose general counsel Jeffrey Ferguson once worked at the firm. Bruce Rosenblum, a managing director at Carlyle and a member of its board, is a former Latham partner. (Carlyle cofounder and co–CEO David Rubenstein once worked at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and a predecessor firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.)

Thompson & Knight, which has close ties to Irving, Texas–based NGP, is advising the energy investor on the sale of a stake to Carlyle. Former Thompson & Knight partner Christopher Ray serves as senior managing director and general counsel for NGP.

Finally, London-based private equity firm Permira announced late Thursday its $1.5 billion cash-and-stock sale of Italian ceramics manufacturer the Marazzi Group to Calhoun, Georgia–based Mohawk Industries, the second-largest maker of rugs and other floor coverings in the United States.

Alston & Bird corporate finance and securities partner R. David Patton is advising Mohawk on the deal, along with the company's general counsel, James Lucke.

As for Permira, it is being advised on the sale by Skadden M&A partner Allison Schneirov, employee benefits partner Regina Olshan, antitrust partners Steven Sunshine and Frederic Depoortere, and tax partner Katherine Bristor.

Skadden advised Permira and Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate News Corporation earlier this year on their joint $5 billion sale of video streaming software company NDS Group to Cisco Systems. The firm also handled Permira's $500 million acquisition of equipment maker Intelligrated this summer and $2.25 billion sale of Jet Aviation to U.S. aerospace and defense company General Dynamics in 2008.

In October, Permira turned to Clifford Chance and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson for counsel on its role in a consortium of investors on their $1.6 billion acquisition of Ancestry.com, according to our previous reports.

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