A powerhouse in restructuring, private equity and litigation,
Weil, Gotshal & Manges has long been one of the world's leading
law firms, with a world-class bankruptcy practice that focuses on
international and complex cases.
New York and beyond
Weil Gotshal was founded in New York in 1931 and now has more
than 1,200 lawyers scattered throughout Europe, the United States,
Asia and the Middle East. With more than half of its 20 offices
based overseas, the firm has a tradition of jumping on expansion
opportunities-such as heading off to Warsaw shortly after the fall
of the Iron Curtain. Recent additions to the real estate portfolio
include offices in Munich, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Dubai.
The growth has only spurred the firm's successes, as it continues
to be one of the highest-grossing law firms in the world, with
global revenues regularly topping the $1 billion mark.
Weil fields one of the most respected and effective
restructuring departments in the world. The firm has enjoyed a
prominent role in the largest insolvencies in history, which
include General Motors, Washington Mutual and the linchpin of the
financial meltdown: Lehman Brothers.
Large in London
Housing more than 100 lawyers, the majority of whom are
UK-qualified, Weil's London office is the firm's largest outside
the US and the second-largest after New York. Despite its relative
youth (the office opened in 1996), it has already made its mark.
The office, one of whose stated goals is "to be the leading private
equity law firm in London and Europe", routinely does work for
high-profile clients and benefits from the balance of a strong
restructuring practice. The firm acted for private equity house
Terra Firma in connection with the £3.2 billion transaction that
took EMI, one of world's largest music publishing groups, private.
The firm also advised Kinder Morgan management on its $23 billion
privatisation in 2007, at the time the largest management-led
buyout in US history and the largest LBO of any kind since RJR
Nabisco in 1989.
Known for its work on the debtor side of transactions, the
global restructuring practice works as a team from the London,
Paris and Frankfurt offices primarily, representing clients in
cross-border transactions. The firm, for example, has represented
Lion Capital in the £1.1 billion buyout of FoodVest (owner of
Youngs Seafood and Findus) and advised Icelandic bank Kaupthing on
As one of the first top firms to restructure its operations in
the wake of the market downturn back in late 2008, Weil Gotshal
counterbalanced the general lack of structured finance work by
merging its London banking and securitisation practices, under the
logic that skill sets required for both practices are similar. The
firm continues to develop its financial institution client base and
derivatives and prime brokerage practice from within the new
Adventures with Advent
Clients of Weil Gotshal's London-based private equity group
include Fidelity Equity Partners, CCMP, Teachers Private Capital,
Triton Partners and Argan Capital. In early 2011, the firm
completed two transactions on behalf of Advent International,
advising Advent on its £200 million investment in Towergate
Partnership, the largest independently owned insurance intermediary
in Europe, and on its acquisition of the Priory Group, a UK-based
mental health service provider, for £925 million. Several months
earlier, Weil had advised private equity houses Advent
International and Bain Capital in their £2 billion acquisition of a
80.1 per cent stake in the credit-card arm of Royal Bank of
Scotland. The sale values the unit, RBS WorldPay-also known as
Global Merchant Services-at £2.03 billion, including debt.
Consultancy changes hands
Weil advised Environmental Resources Management, one of the
largest environmental consultancies in the world, in connection
with a management buyout announced in May 2011 through which
British private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital will sell a 65 per
cent stake in ERM to Charterhouse Capital Partners. ERM partners
will hold the remaining 35 per cent. The deal, which is subject to
the approval of ERM's 440 partners, values ERM at $950 million.
Weil had been involved in a previous ERM sale, when long-time
client Bridgepoint purchased a majority stake from 3i Group in
Big pharma buyout
In February 2011, Weil advised French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis
on its $20.1 billion hostile takeover of Boston-based biotech
company Genzyme, the second-largest acquisition in biotech history.
The merger drew on lawyers from Weil's London, New York, Paris,
Boston, Dallas and Washington DC offices. The deal will be worth an
additional $2.7 billion if drugs used to treat multiple sclerosis
and two rare diseases meet certain sales goals, overcoming a
slowdown in production following a viral contamination at Genzyme's
plant in 2009. Weil has also done antitrust work for Sanofi,
advising on an abandoned plan for an animal health joint venture
with Merck in 2010.
Welcoming with open arms
In June 2011, Weil launched a new European private equity fund
formation group, thanks to the addition of a four-partner team from
Clifford Chance. The influx of partners from what one commentator
has referred to as a "marquee practice" at the Magic Circle firm
represents a nice coup for Weil's City office. Earlier in the year,
the firm raided another City practice when it lured Jones Day's
London head of restructuring, Adam Plainer, to lead Weil's own
restructuring team in London.