Deal Watch: Simpson, CC and NRF line up as business data firms generates big ticket double

Deal Watch: Simpson, CC and NRF line up as business data firms generates big ticket double

As January draws to a close the deal market continues its robust run, with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett leading the advisers on Blackstone’s headline-grabbing Thomson Reuters carve-out while City leaders deploy for Informa’s £3.9bn takeover of UBM.

Simpson, Dechert and Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) won the lead mandates on a Blackstone-led bid to acquire the data analytics business of Thomson Reuters in a deal valued at $20bn. The bid, confirmed on Tuesday (30 January), is one of the largest ever private equity-backed acquisitions and Blackstone’s largest outside the real estate sector.

Simpson is advising the consortium headed by long-standing client Blackstone, which also includes Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC and Canadian pension fund CPPIB. A New York-based Simpson team includes partners Wilson Neely, Elizabeth Cooper and Mike Wolfson (M&A) and Lori Lesser (IP).

Thomson Reuters, advised by Torys and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, is selling a 55% majority stake in its financial and risk (F&R) business in return for gross proceeds of $17bn. The company will keep a 45% stake in the business, as well as full ownership of its legal, tax & accounting and Reuters news operations. As part of the deal, Reuters will supply news to the F&R business for $325m-a-year under a 30-year contract.

NRF, meanwhile, advised Thomson Reuters Founder Share Company, fielding a team that included New York corporate partner David Barrett and London-based IP head Mike Knapper. The London team included corporate partner Jon Perry as well as senior lawyers Clementine Hogarth and Jon Perry. Dechert is advising GIC out of New York with a team led by corporate partners Mark Thierfelder and Jonathan Kim.

The business publishing sector in January generated another multi-billion pound deal with Informa finalising its recommended cash and share offer on its £3.9bn acquisition of listed events business UBM. CC acted for Informa, fielding a team under partners Katherine Moir and Steven Fox, opposite Linklaters duo Michel Honan and Iain Fenn for UBM. CC has acted for Informa on numerous occasions previously, including on its proposed $1.5bn acquisition of Penton Business Media in 2016.

The takeover is designed to create an events business with revenues of £2.6bn a year. Ashurst is advising Centerview Partners, the financial adviser to Informa, with a team led by corporate partner Tom Mercer and banking partner Tim Rennie. UBM is currently the largest dedicated B2B events business in the world, owning and operating more than 300 exhibitions and events.

Despite unease about Brexit, 2018 has gotten off to a strong start for deal counsel, with a string of marquee bids already announced as a depressed sterling and robust economies in the US and the Eurozone underpin M&A activity.