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America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2007: Private Equity: Buyouts

Chambers & Partners has compiled their independent and objective list of America's Leading Lawyers for Business based on comments gathered from thousands of interviews with clients and lawyers from Maine to Hawaii. This guide -- which is designed to reflect market opinion -- contains a view of the firms and attorneys who are considered leaders in their field.

In Chambers' 2007 review of national legal talent in the area of "Private Equity: Buyouts," our Firm and our lawyers are listed among the best in the country.

Chambers' comments:

National Ranking: 1 (Private Equity: Buyouts & Venture Capital Investment)

The Firm: The firm undoubtedly dominates the Midwest, but with recent, significant lateral hires in New York and London, and the opening of a new Hong Kong office, the private equity group’s global strategy is clear for all to see. The international office network is said to provide “a seamless service,” while the US team is famed for its “tough negotiators.” Chicago rainmaker and widely published author Jack Levin is mentor to this impressive group, winning praise for his first-rate strategic advice. Also based in Chicago, Kevin Evanich earned commendation for his eclectic practice, while Kirk Radke and Stephen Fraidin lead the charge from New York.

New York Ranking: 2

The Firm: This is “definitely a proper private equity firm, all the way down and all the way up,” claims one peer, with clients rating it as a premier outfit. One of the original market players, it has “been around since the beginning” and is commended for maintaining “one of the most diversified practices” in the private equity arena. Unlike competing firms that act for a small number of loyal clients, this firm has a varied deal list and experience with a host of private equity houses. In recent years, the New York team has gathered speed, resulting in a strong reputation in its own right, rather than being seen as an outpost of the flagship Chicago office. The private equity department acts for a wide range of clients, from the midmarket upwards, and often represents new funds, having worked on their formation. For example, as a continuation of its fund formation work, the firm advised Avista Capital Partners on a secondary buyout of its first portfolio company, cable operator WideOpenWest Holdings, from ABRY Partners and Oak Hill Capital Partners. An aggressive negotiation style is characteristic of the firm, although interviewees also emphasized that the lawyers are not overly combative: “They do their jobs and want to get a deal done as opposed to beating up others, unlike some lawyers who want to argue every point and then lose the forest for the trees.”

The Lawyers: “Terrific all-around deal lawyer” Kirk Radke is an “extremely seasoned practitioner” who has “a lot of credibility with the other side” in negotiations. A “commercially minded” practitioner, clients appreciate his fund formation expertise and “pleasant bedside manner.” Stephen Fraidin is an established figure in the corporate arena, known for both his public M&A expertise and his private equity know-how. “An excellent technical practitioner,” Eunu Chun combines “great judgment with a pragmatic approach.” Clients value his business acumen and look to him for commercial guidance. Joshua Korff is recommended for his commercial approach to private equity deals in addition to his knowledge of acquisition finance. “When you can’t deal with theory, he knows how to read the other sides of risk and create opportunities,” said clients.

Clients/Work Highlights: The firm represented Forstmann Little in its $200 million purchase of the fashion industry tradeshow ENK International. It acted for GM in the $16 billion sale of a 51% stake in its GMAC subsidiary to a group led by Cerberus Capital. Additional clients include AIG; Avista Capital Partners; BainCapital; Bruckmann Rosser and Sherrill; CVC Capital Partners London; Citigroup Mezzanine Partners; Catterton Partners; Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec; Warburg Pincus; Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe and the ZS Funds.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2007 -