Midsize Private Equity Deals Keep Am Law Firms Busy

, The Am Law Daily

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CORRECTION, 12/31/13, 11:50 a.m. EST: This article originally misspelled the name of Skadden's Katharine Funkhouser. We regret the error.

Am Law 100 dealmakers are bringing 2013 to a close with a flourish by advising on a string of midlevel, end-of-year transactions involving well-known brands.

In one such matter, Bain Capital said Monday that it has agreed to buy a majority stake in furniture and bedding retailer Bob's Discount Furniture from fellow private equity firms Apax Partners and KarpReilly.

While financial terms of the deal and the size of the stake being acquired were not disclosed, The Wall Street Journal reported in October that Manchester, Conn.–based Bob's was exploring a sale that it hoped would fetch more than $350 million. Founded in 1991, Bob's has 47 stores spread across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and is probably best known for television spots that prominently feature bearded company founder Bob Kaufman.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.

Kirkland & Ellis is advising Bain on its purchase of the Bob's stake. Firm spokesman Tim Ragones told The Am Law Daily that the firm would not be releasing the names of attorneys from the firm who advised Bain on the Bob's deal.

The Am Law Daily named Kirkland corporate partner Sarkis Jebejian a "Dealmaker of the Week" in May for his work advising a private equity consortium led by Bain and Golden Gate Capital on the $6.9 billion purchase of business software company BMC Software. The firm has advised Bain on a number of other large transactions, including 2012's $1.6 billion purchase of Apex Tool Group.

Ropes & Gray, another frequent Bain adviser, is on the other side of the deal as legal counsel to Bob's and KarpReilly. The Ropes team includes M&A partner Daniel Evans and tax partner Lee Allison, along with associates Mark Castiglia, Alyssa Kollmeyer and Anna Rozin and law clerk Daniel Barden. Ropes advised KarpReilly, SKM Equity Fund III and the Miller Ale House restaurant chain earlier this year in connection with the latter's sale to Roark Capital Group.

It was unclear Monday whether Apax—which is part owner of ALM Media, the parent company and publisher of The Am Law Daily—relied on its own outside legal advisers for counsel on the transaction.

In a second midsize private equity deal announced this week, The Blackstone Group said Sunday it has agreed to invest $200 million in Crocs in exchange for a 13 percent stake in the Niwot, Colo.-based shoe company. Crocs, which makes a line of colorful clogs, said it expects to put the investment toward a $350 million stock repurchase planned for the first quarter of 2014. The investment will also give Blackstone two seats on the Crocs board of directors.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is representing longtime client Blackstone on the investment with a team that includes M&A partner Peter Martelli, tax partner Gary Mandel, compensation and benefits partner Greg Grogan, IP partner Lori Lesser, environmental senior counsel Adeeb Fadil and real estate counsel Krista McManus. The Simpson associates working on the deal include Anthony Vernace, who will become a partner Jan. 1, as well as Christopher Dass, Xavier Kowalski, Noreen Lavan, Brittany McCants, Zara Ohiorhenuan, Jennifer Pepin, Leah Shen and Sophie Staples.

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