With just 500 lawyers, Fried Frank is smallish by some measures,
but it remains an international legal power that excels in
corporate, tax, litigation and real estate work. The firm has a
long transatlantic history: its London office, established in 1970,
was one of the first European offices of a US law firm.
An impressive crew
Fried Frank traces its history to the turn of the 20th century,
with such predecessor firms as Riegelman & Bach, Reigelman Hess
& Strasser, and Strasser Spiegelberg Fried and Frank. Famous
partners include Sam Harris, who worked for the US Securities and
Exchange Commission during its start in the New Deal era of the
1930s and later helped the United States prosecute war criminals in
the Nuremberg trials, and Sargent Shriver, a former US ambassador
to France well known for directing the Peace Corps in the early
1960s. Growing from its roots in New York City's German-Jewish
business community, the firm established itself in the nation's
capital, opening a Washington DC office in 1949. From its perch
inside the Beltway, the firm built a robust business in Indian
Claims Act matters, later adding specialties in regulation and
enforcement, tax, government contracts and white-collar crime. By
1971, name partners Walter Fried, Hans Frank, Sam Harris, Sargent
Shriver and Leslie Jacobson were all on the masthead.
Unlike many of its rivals in the post-WWII era, Fried Frank grew
without the support of a few major legacy clients. Instead, the
firm worked on a case-by-case basis, representing the likes of
Getty Oil, General Electric, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. In
the 1980s the firm earned household-name status with its
representation of Ivan Boesky; Fried Frank partner Harvey Pitt was
by Boesky's side as he pleaded guilty to the SEC's insider trading
Adopting a global outlook
By the 1990s-following several periods of rapid growth-Fried
Frank was advising nearly all of the major investment banking firms
and broker-dealers. Fried Frank was also representing major
accounting firms and insurance companies in securities regulation,
compliance, and corporate governance matters-the firm was involved
in nearly every high-profile securities enforcement matter-while
also building a solid reputation for M&A business.
International expansion has been a key component of the firm's
strategy, and London was Fried Frank's first stop. Today, Fried
Frank has seven offices, one in each of the world's key strategic
financial centres: New York, Washington, London, Paris, Frankfurt,
Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Small office, big cases
Since the start of the 21st century, Fried Frank's Europe
offices have undergone some changes, with lawyers from three major
teams, including bankruptcy and capital markets, departing the
Paris and Frankfurt offices. London, however, has seen major
growth, with the office adding lawyers who specialise in complex
corporate transactions, financial services industry regulation,
litigation and antitrust.
Fried Frank's London lawyers continue to focus on the firm's key
areas of strength: M&A, capital markets, finance and real
estate. Some very large matters have come out of the relatively
small office, including M&A work for Goldman Sachs and AEA
Investors. The firm acted for Permira Advisers in connection with a
deal that took News Corporation's public subsidiary, NDS Group,
private, and has handled a number of transactions for Virgin Media,
including a £1.5 billion bond issue, part of a debt restructuring
programme; the $8.8 billion NTL Incorporated merger with Telewest
that created the predecessor company to Virgin; the £962 million
acquisition of Virgin Mobile; and the sale of Virgin Media
Television to British Sky Broadcasting.
Eye on pharma
In April 2011, a cross-departmental team from the firm's London,
New York and Washington DC offices helped pharmaceutical giant
Merck conclude a $430 agreement to acquire Inspire Pharmaceuticals.
Inspire is a specialty pharmaceutical company that develops and
markets ophthalmic products.
Two months earlier, Fried Frank represented Goldman Sachs and
Credit Suisse in connection with their work as financial advisors
to Genzyme Corp, which was purchased by Sanofi-Aventis SA for
approximately $20.1 billion, making the transaction the
second-largest biotech deal in history.
In February 2011, the firm helped complete another pharma merger
when Axcan Holdings, Inc, a US-based company that makes drugs for
gastrointestinal conditions, acquired Eurand NV for approximately
$587 million. Fried Frank represented Goldman Sachs as financial
advisor to the Amsterdam-based Eurand, a specialty pharmaceutical
company, which develops products for the treatment of cystic
fibrosis and gastrointestinal-related diseases.
A ripping good yarn
In May 2011, Fried Frank advised a group of banks including UBS,
CCB International and Bank of America Merrill Lynch in connection
with the $383 million Hong Kong IPO of Billion Industrial Holdings
Limited, a chemical fibre manufacturer based in China. Billion
Industrial Holdings develops and manufactures polyester filament
yarns for sale to fabric and textile manufacturers.
In another transaction drawing on lawyers from the London, Hong
Kong and New York offices, the firm advised UBS AG, Hong Kong
Branch, in connection with the issuance of $300 million of senior
notes in January 2011 by Hopson Development Holdings Limited, one
of China's largest property developers.