Twitter and Hilton Ride Wave of IPOs
While Twitter tweets away, New York–based Blackstone is getting ready to cash out of its investment in Hilton, in what will be the second big private equity exit this week after the $6 billion sale of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett corporate partner Joshua Ford Bonnie is advising McLean, Virginia–based Hilton as it prepares an IPO that could raise up to $1.25 billion. The firm represented Blackstone on its $26 billion buy in 2007 of one of the world’s largest hoteliers. Simpson also handled a $4 billion debt restructuring in 2010 for Hilton, which owns more than 4,000 hotels around the world, as well as Blackstone's $950 million acquisition of the Mint hotel chain in 2011.
The American Lawyer named Bonnie a Dealmaker of the Year in 2008 for his role counseling Blackstone on its own IPO, which included crafting novel tax-saving structures that avoided IRS and SEC scrutiny. Fees and expenses for attorneys related to the Blackstone IPO were $15 million, according to an SEC filing at the time, but fees linked to the looming IPO for Hilton are not yet available.
Former Simpson M&A chair John Finley, an American Lawyer Dealmaker of the Year in 2009, left the firm the following year to become Blackstone's chief legal officer. Finley succeeded former Simpson corporate partner Robert Friedman, who had joined Blackstone in 1999 and remains a senior managing director at the private equity firm.
An SEC filing by Hilton does state that an investment vehicle composed of select Simpson partners and their families owns less than a 1 percent interest in the capital of Blackstone-affiliated funds.
Davis Polk & Wardwell capital markets cohead Michael Kaplan and corporate partner John Meade are advising underwriters for the Hilton IPO led by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.
Kristin Campbell has served as Hilton’s general counsel since 2011. Last year Sutherland Asbill & Brennan hired former Hilton assistant general counsel Mark Robertson as a partner in Washington, D.C. Robertson is now a partner at Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren.
Lastly, Magic Circle firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, and Slaughter and May have landed roles on a proposed IPO for the London-based Royal Mail, according to British publication The Lawyer. Freshfields has been advising the British government for more than a year on a restructuring of the Royal Mail, whose IPO could see some of the state-owned postal service's 176,000 employees get shares for free.
Legal Week reported last year that Slaughter and May has been advising the Royal Mail, with Linklaters stepping in this summer to represent banks underwriting the proposed public listing.