Am Law Firms Line Up for Latest SoftBank Deal

, The Am Law Daily

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Softbank mobile shop

CORRECTION, 10/21/13, 12:00 p.m. EDT: The original version of this article incorrectly identified Lindsay Goldberg's investment vehicle. The private equity firm is a Brightstar shareholder. We regret the error.

For Japanese Internet and telecommunications giant SoftBank Corp., the dealmaking roll continues.

Just a few days after acquiring a majority stake in Finnish online gaming company Supercell, SoftBank said Friday that it has agreed to pay $1.26 billion in cash for a 57 percent stake in Miami-based mobile-phone company Brightstar Corporation. Bloomberg notes that SoftBank has been involved in more than a dozen transactions in the past year, with the biggest being the company's $21.6 billion purchase of Sprint Nextel in a deal that closed earlier this year.

After expanding its presence in the mobile gaming market by taking control of Supercell, SoftBank is now looking to increase its coverage of the U.S. mobile phone sector—and advance its stated goal of establishing itself as raw "No.1 mobile Internet company" in the world—by acquiring Brightstar. The Japanese company's latest target, which sells mobile handsets and accessories, said in its own announcement that it will become the exclusive provider of those items to SoftBank and its affiliates as a result of the deal. Additionally, SoftBank plans to increase its holdings in Brightstar to a 70 percent stake over the next five years through future unsecured notes worth a total of $600 million.

SoftBank's deal for the 57 percent stake in Brightstar has been approved by the Japanese company's board and is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory approval.

For legal counsel on the deal, SoftBank has turned to its longtime outside counsel at Morrison & Foerster. M&A partner Kenneth Siegel, who serves as managing partner of the firm's Tokyo office, is leading the MoFo team days after taking the reins on SoftBank's purchase of the Supercell stake. MoFo also advised SoftBank on the Sprint Nextel deal last year and on a $3.3 billion debt offering on the Singapore Exchange in June of this year.

MoFo corporate cochair Brandon Parris is also working on the Brightstar deal along with Tokyo-based corporate partner Ivan Smallwood and Denver-based private equity of counsel Erik Knudsen. MoFo associates on the deal are Noah Carr and Tyler Sewell.

(The Raine Group is serving as SoftBank's financial adviser on the deal. As The Am Law Daily has reported, Raine was founded by Joseph Ravitch and Jeff Sine, who previously worked at Sullivan & Cromwell and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, respectively.)

Meanwhile, attorneys at Cleary and K&L Gates are advising Brightstar on the deal with SoftBank. The Cleary team is led by New York-based M&A partners Christopher Austin and Benet O'Reilly.

For its part, K&L Gates is fielding a Miami-based team that includes corporate partners Clayton Parker and Christopher Tillson. K&L Gates associates David Baghdassarian and John Owens are also on the deal, along with paralegal Jan Blanck. In July, sibling publication the Daily Business Review highlighted K&L Gates's work advising Brightstar on two financing transactions, one of which saw the company increase an existing senior secured asset-based credit facility from $600 million to $1.32 billion. In the other transaction, Brightstar received a $100 million letter of credit from a group of banks led by Deutsche Bank.

Catherine Smith serves as Brightstar's general counsel.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges private equity partner Michael Weisser also landed a role on the matter, serving as legal adviser to private equity firm, and Brightstar shareholder, Lindsay Goldberg.
 

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