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US: Five firms advise on Amazon’s Whole Foods buy

 |  June 19, 2017

Amazon.com announced Friday its plans to purchase the organic upscale grocery company Whole Foods Market in a $13.7 billion mega-deal, one that has yielded key roles for four Am Law 100 firms, reported Texas Lawyer.

Sullivan & Cromwell M&A partners Krishna Veeraraghavan and Eric Krautheimer are leading a team from he firm advising Amazon as the online retail behemoth moves into the grocery business and physical stores. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz executive committee co-chair Daniel Neff and M&A partners Trevor Norwitz and Sabastian Niles are heading up Whole Foods’ outside transactional team.

The transaction itself is a first for Wachtell and Sullivan & Cromwell on behalf of Whole Foods and Amazon, respectively. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Dechert represented Whole Foods in the grocery store chain’s failed merger attempt with Wild Oats Marketplace in 2009. (Wachtell partner George Conway III, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, co-wrote a piece questioning the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit’s decision in that case.)

For its part, Amazon has turned to a number of Am Law 100 firms for its countless acquisitions. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher advised e-commerce giant on its $847 million acquisition of shoe and apparel retailer Zappos and its subsequent $775 million purchase in 2012 of Kiva Systems, an inventory robotic system.

Debevoise & Plimpton also picked up work for Amazon on its $500 million acquisition of Quidsi, an e-commerce company that counted former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara as an early investor and which operated BeautyBar.com, Diapers.com and Soap.com. Most recently, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in his $250 million all-cash purchase of The Washington Post in 2013.

Latham & Watkins corporate partners Adel Aslani-Far and Mark Gerstein are representing Evercore Partners in its role as financial adviser to Whole Foods on its proposed sale to Amazon, while Paul Hastings partner Steve Camahort is counseling The Goldman Sachs Group in its role as financial adviser to Amazon. (Camahort joined Paul Hastings last year from Shearman & Sterling.)

Weil, Gotshal & Manges banking partners Morgan Bale and Heather Viets, capital markets partner Faiza Rahman, M&A partner Raymond Gietz and tax partner William Horton are advising Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, both of whom are providing bridge financing for the acquisition of the grocery store chain.

Full Content: Texas Lawyer

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