March 19, 2012 5:21 PM

Five Firms Connect on $2.2 Billion Fiber-Optic Network Takeover

Posted by Brian Baxter

The Zayo Group plans to expand its high-speed broadband capacity by acquiring AboveNet, a company that provides fiber-optic network services, for $2.2 billion.

The deal, announced Monday, is the largest-ever U.S. acquisition in the Internet connection services industry, Bloomberg reports.

Gibson, Dunn Crutcher MA partners Steven Talley and Eduardo Gallardo, corporate transactions partner Beau Stark, and corporate finance partner Aaron Adams are advising Louisville, Colorado–based Zayo on the deal. The firm previously advised Zayo on both a $75 million revolving line of credit and its issuance of $250 million in senior debt. Scott Beer is Zayo’s general counsel.

Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR is helping to fund the acquisition by making an investment in Zayo. Latham Watkins corporate partners Edward Sonnenschein and Bradley Faris are leading a team from the firm representing GTCR in connection with the matter. The firm has done work for GTCR—the value of whose investment was not disclosed in a press release announcing the deal—in the past.

Other Latham lawyers working on the matter include tax partner David Raab, antitrust partner Bruce Prager, employee benefits partner Bradd Williamson, global finance vice-chair Brad Kotler, finance partner Jenny Van Driesen, IP partner Jeffrey Tochner, and telecommunications regulatory partner James Barker and counsel Elizabeth Park. Christian McGrath, the private equity firm’s general counsel and chief compliance officer, spent six years at Latham.

White Plains, New York–based AboveNet turned to Connecticut’s Wiggin Dana for outside counsel. Willkie Farr Gallagher cochairman and corporate partner Steven Gartner is advising AboveNet’s board of directors, along with corporate partner Jeffrey Hochman and banking and debt finance practice cochair William Hiller.

Robert Sokota serves as general counsel for AboveNet, which was founded in 1993 and owns fiber-optic networks in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States and Europe. Three lawyers—Richard Postma, Richard Shorten, Jr., and Stuart Subotnick—serve on AboveNet’s board.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher Flom corporate partner Kenneth Wolff in New York is advising JPMorgan Chase, which is acting as lead financial adviser to AboveNet. Connectivity-related legal work has been a hot spot of late for Am Law 200 firms.

Last week hedge fund billionaire Philip Falcone‘s Reston, Virginia–based wireless start-up LightSquared hired high-powered Gibson Dunn litigators Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, and Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, to fight the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to block the company’s proposed wireless network.

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