KKR, Global Tower Deals Yield More M&A Work for Simpson
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s transactional hot streak continued Friday, only days after counseling British telecommunications giant Vodafone on the third-largest M&A deal in history.
The firm’s long-standing private equity connections helped it pick up key roles on two other large deals announced this week, such as advising Global Tower Partners on its $3.3 billion sale to American Tower Corp., and KKR on its $1.1 billion buy of Mitchell International from Aurora Capital Group.
Simpson M&A partner Sean Rodgers, banking and credit partner James Cross, antitrust partner Joseph Tringali, executive compensation and benefits partner Andrea Wahlquist, senior tax partner Steven Todrys, and East Coast IP transactions head Lori Lesser are leading a team from the firm advising longtime client KKR on its effort to acquire Mitchell.
The Wall Street Journal reports that KKR is the third private equity firm in recent years to take control of the San Diego–based property and casualty claims software maker that was initially sold to Aurora Capital for $500 million in early 2007 by fellow private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. (Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised the seller on that deal.)
While Mitchell is in the market for a new general counsel, KKR hired its first-ever general counsel nearly six years ago in David Sorkin from Simpson, where he spent more than 20 years in the M&A group and rose to become a member of the firm’s executive committee.
KKR has long turned to Simpson for deal work, tapping the firm earlier this year for counsel on its $3.9 billion acquisition of industrial machinery manufacturer Gardner Denver and purchase of a 25 percent stake in disaster reinsurer Nephila Capital.
Aurora Capital’s general counsel is Timothy Hart, a former corporate partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which is advising the Los Angeles–based private equity firm on its sale of Mitchell to KKR. Gibson Dunn M&A partners Candice Choh and Mark Lahive, global finance cohead Jeff Hudson, finance partner Andrew Cheng, and associates Kenise Kim, Samuel Kim, and Negin Nazemi are working on the matter. (Choh and Cheng were promoted to partner in 2011.)
Gerald Parsky, a former senior partner at Gibson Dunn, is chairman of Aurora Capital. Parsky founded the private equity firm in 1992 after spending 14 years at Gibson Dunn, where he was its first outside lateral partner hire after holding various positions in the U.S. Treasury Department. He eventually rose to become a member of the executive and management committees at Gibson Dunn, which became a go-to firm for Parsky after he started Aurora Capital.
Last month Aurora Capital turned to the firm for counsel on its $267 million takeover of engineering and testing services company National Technical Systems, according to sibling publication The Recorder, which earlier this year reported on the firm’s role advising Aurora Capital on the $1.1 billion sale of beverage carbonation company NuCO2 to industrial gas supplier Praxair.
As for Simpson, its role representing KKR on the Mitchell transaction is the latest drop in what has turned into a bit of a stunning deal deluge for the firm, which earlier this week counseled Microsoft on its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone business and Vodafone on the whopping $130 billion sale of its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless to joint venture partner Verizon Communications.