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Q2 League Tables: Good Half for M&A, Great Half for Howard Ellin

By David Marcus | Published on June 29, 2018

The first half of 2018 saw a bevy of big deals, with 16 transactions of $10 billion or more involving a U.S. company announced so far this year. And the victory of AT&T Corp. (T) and Time Warner Inc. over the government’s antitrust challenge to their merger may lead to even more megadeals in the back half of the year. The activity has come in a range of sectors including media and telecommunications, healthcare and energy.

No one had a better first half than Howard Ellin of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, who is advising Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) in its agreement to sell to Walt Disney Co. (DIS), which is being challenged by Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), and Express Scripts Holding Co. (ESRX) on its $66.1 billion agreement to sell to Cigna Corp. (CI) Ellin’s also working with Fox in its bid for Sky plc, for which Comcast has also made a hostile bid.

Private equity firms inked three large acquisition agreements in the first half. Blackstone Group LP, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and GIC agreed to buy 55% of Thomson Reuters Corp.‘s (TRI) financial and risk business for $17 billion, while Carlyle Group and GIC will pay $12.5 billion for AkzoNobel NV‘s specialty chemicals business and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP agreed to buy Envision Healthcare Corp. (EVHC) for $9.9 billion. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP‘s Wilson Neely and Marni Lerner and advised longtime clients Blackstone and KKR, while Michael Bond and David Dantzic of Latham & Watkins LLP are representing Carlyle.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is working with both Reuters and Envision, with Nicholas Demmo leading the firm’s team on the first deal and Steven Rosenblum leading the second. Wachtell’s Edward Herlihy is advising Cigna on the Express Scripts deal, while the firm’s Adam Emmerich is counseling Deutsche Telekom AG and T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) on the proposed combination of T-Mobile with Sprint Corp. (S), which tapped Rob Townsend of Morrison & Foerster LLP in a second attempt at a merger that U.S. antitrust regulators quashed in 2014. The reprise has been a honeypot for advisers, with at least 17 law firms and banks advising one of the principal parties on the deal.

The largest technology deal of the first half was an example of tech’s importance to other sectors. Walmart Inc. (WMT) agreed to pay $16 billion for Flipkart Pvt Ltd., an Indian online retailer. Rick Climan of Hogan Lovells counseled Walmart, while Flipkart turned to Steve Baglio and Andrew Luh of Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian LLP. In the period’s largest semiconductor deal, Microchip Technology Inc. (MCHP) bought MicroSemi Inc.for $10.15 billion. The buyer tapped Rob Ishii of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati PC, while the seller used longtime counsel Warren Lazarow at O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP landed roles on two of the year’s largest energy deals, with Frank Aquila advising Andeavor (ANDV) on its $23.3 billion sale to Marathon Petroleum Inc. (MPC) and Joseph Frumkin representing Concho Resources Inc. (CXO) on its $9.5 billion agreement to buy RSP Permian Inc. (RSPP) Michael Darden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is also advising Concho.

And Jones Day‘s Peter Izanec is representing Conagra Brands Inc. on its $10.9 billion agreement to buy Pinnacle Foods Inc. and Wabtec Corp. on its $11.1 billion agreement to buy GE Transportation.

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