Sullivan & Cromwell LLP (Europe)

  • Overview


In 2007, Sullivan & Cromwell managed to outrun the subprime tsunami that had already overcome other white-shoe firms, leading the world in total M&A deal value for the fourth straight year.  Still, as transactional matters slowed in 2008, the firm began to feel the pinch, eventually ceding the top M&A spot to Magic Circle firm Linklaters.  Enter the conquering hero: Chairman H. Rodgin Cohen, who turned the hamstrung economy to S&C's advantage by filling the firm's schedule-and coffers-with high-level bankruptcy and bailout work.   

A picture of consistency

Founded in New York in 1879 by Algernon Sydney Sullivan and William Nelson Cromwell, Sullivan & Cromwell has the distinction of having kept the same name for 130 years.  The founding fathers elevated the firm to elite status in large part through their work advising JP Morgan-as in the man himself-during the creation of Edison General Electric in 1882, the formation of US Steel and the financing of the Panama Canal.  Such lucrative foreign ventures convinced S&C to establish offices in such (then-) far-flung markets as Paris, Buenos Aires and Berlin in the first half of the 20th century.  (The Berlin office was closed prior to WWII, while the Paris office was closed in 1940 and reopened in 1962.)  The firm affirmed its international focus again in the 1980s and hasn't slowed since, opening offices in Europe, Asia and Australia between 1983 and 2001.

London Eye

The firm opened its doors in London in 1972, but until recently distinguished itself by being one of the only international firms operating in the UK not to have recruited UK-based partners.  In the last few years, however, the firm has been welcoming established high flyers into its corporate nest, including former Allen & Overy partner and one of the office's current managing partners, Vanessa Blackmore.  

Sullivan & Cromwell recently advised Anheuser-Busch InBev on the $1.8 billion sale of Oriental Brewery Co, one of South Korea's largest breweries, to an affiliate of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, an acquisition announced in May 2009.  The firm's London team had previously acted for InBev when it acquired Anheuser-Busch for $60.8 billion in the largest European M&A deal of 2008.  Other major deals since the start of 2009 include acting for Electricité de France (EDF), Europe's largest power company, in a €1.3 billion deal to acquire British energy company Centrica's majority stake in SPE, the second-largest energy producer and supplier in Belgium.

The stuff of legends

Here's to going out with a bang.  At the end of 2009, the ubiquitous and seemingly indefatigable Rodgin Cohen will step down as Sullivan & Cromwell's chairman, ceding the role to current Vice Chairman Joseph Shenker.  Under Cohen's magisterial guidance, S&C seized upon the transactional wreckage of 2008 to build its reputation as, in the words of The American Lawyer, "the go-to firm for the financial services industry".  Citigroup generated loads of billables for the firm.  The work began in January, when S&C gathered $12.5 billion in emergency funding from diverse investors, including Singaporean and Kuwaiti sovereign wealth funds, a Saudi prince and former Citi Chairman Sanford Weill, to help Citi cover $17 billion in subprime-derived losses, and lasted through the autumn, with the firm fending off a lawsuit stemming from Citi's battle with Wells Fargo for client Wachovia.  Thanks also to Cohen, Sullivan secured roles on the $85 billion US government bailout of insurance giant AIG and its subsequent $30 billion equity capital commitment facility.  

The firm also acted on the nationalisation of Fannie Mae and the conversion of key client Goldman Sachs from an investment bank into a bank holding company.  Cohen was there to advise Barclays on its acquisition of Lehman Brothers' North American investment banking and capital markets operations; to counsel the board of directors of Bear Stearns on its sale to JPMorgan Chase; and to walk JPMorgan through its $1.9 billion purchase of a bankrupt Washington Mutual.  The firm also advised UBS on US aspects of its bailout by the Swiss government.

Loyal to Lloyds

In 2009, the firm joined up with Magic Circle buddy Linklaters to advise Lloyds TSB on a $350 million settlement with the US government based on claims that the UK bank falsified records to allow transactions from banks in Sudan and Iran appear as if they originated from Lloyds, in violation of the US government's ban on enemy regimes accessing the US banking system.  Lloyds admitted falsifying business records by altering wire transfer information in order to hide the identity of its clients.

Sullivan & Cromwell is also taking a lead role in the joint venture between US car manufacturer Chrysler and Fiat.  Fiat has been a Sullivan & Cromwell client for four years, ever since the car manufacturer terminated its alliance with General Motors in 2006.  The deal provides Chrysler with access to Fiat's technology facilities, as well as financial assistance for Chrysler factories.  In return, Fiat receives a 35 per cent stake in Chrysler, with an option to buy a majority stake in the company.  Some 10 S&C lawyers advised on the deal, working closely with Fiat's in-house legal teams.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP (Europe)

1 New Fetter Lane
London EC4A 1AN
Phone: 020 7959 8900


  • Employer Type: Private
  • London Managing Partners: Vanessa Blackmore & Rob Schlein
  • Total No. Attorneys 2009: 750

Major Office Locations

  • Melbourne , Australia
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Beijing, China
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Palo Alto, CA
  • Washington, DC
  • New York, NY
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Tokyo, Japan
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