Private Equity Ties Yield Roles for Top Firms

, The Am Law Daily

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private equity

UPDATE: 10/28/13, 10:00 a.m. EDT. DLA Piper, through a team of lawyers led by corporate partner Noel Haywood, are advising R. Griggs Group on its sale of Dr. Martens to Permira.

A handful of Am Law 100 firms are queuing up to the private equity pipeline to advise on several notable deals by top buyout firms.

The transactions come as many private investment firms embark on a major fundraising drive, according to a recent report by The New York Times’ DealBook.

As previously noted by The Am Law Daily, the competition for private equity M&A work remains fierce among large firms, and Am Law 100 mainstays like Latham & Watkins have recently sought to make inroads into the lucrative London market by poaching key private equity partners like Tom Evans and David Walker from Clifford Chance.

Clifford Chance’s global head of corporate, Matthew Layton, is currently in the running to succeed David Childs as its next managing partner, according to U.K. publication Legal Week, and the Magic Circle firm itself remains a go-to shop for many private equity firms as they enter or exit investments abroad.

On Thursday, London-based private equity firm Permira Advisors, whose many investments include the clothing brand Hugo Boss, announced that it would acquire British footwear firm Dr. Martens from the family-owned R. Griggs Group for $485.3 million in a deal expected to close in January.

Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom have all handled work for Permira. The latter three did not have roles on the Dr. Martens deal for Permira, and while a source says Clifford Chance snagged the work, a spokesman for the firm declined to comment on the matter.

Ian Sellars, a former head of Clifford Chance’s leveraged buyout group who is now a partner at Permira, did not respond to a request for comment about whether the private equity firm tapped Clifford Chance for counsel on its Dr. Martens buy, nor did a Permira spokeswoman.

Other former Clifford Chance lawyers at Permira include principals Ulrich Gasse and Peter Gibbs. Permira’s chief risk officer Christopher Crozier once worked at Freshfields, while Permira principal Paul Armstrong and partner Henry Chen previously served time at Fried Frank and Davis Polk & Wardwell, respectively.

Clifford Chance has been busy over the past year for Permira, advising the private equity firm on its $1 billion acquisition of Japanese sushi restaurant chain Akindo Sushiro, the $875 million sale of its last remaining stake in Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment, and its $1.6 billion buy of Ancestry.com.

In late September, sibling publication The Asian Lawyer reported on Clifford Chance advising Chinese state-backed Haitong Securities on its $715 million sale to TPG Capital, a Fort Worth–based private equity giant advised by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and China’s Fangda Partners.

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