April 3, 2012 6:14 PM

Kirkland, Freshfields Advise as Molson Coors Grabs StarBev With Ice Cold $3.5 Billion Bid

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Molson Coors Brewing Company said Tuesday it has agreed to pay $3.54 billion to purchase Prague-based StarBev from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

StarBev sells more than 20 regional beer brands and operates nine breweries in Eastern Europe. CVC built the company by buying local operations from Anheuser-Busch InBev for $2.2 billion in 2009. The deal with Molson Coors includes about $667 million of StarBev debt. (Anheuser-Busch InBev made its own modest, yet noteworthy, Eastern European acquisition in January, acquiring one of two Czech breweries with which the brewing giant has been engaged in a long-running battle over the “Budweiser” trademark.)

The StarBev acquisition would allow Molson Coors to expand in some key emerging markets by introducing its own brands, such as Carling. Molson Coors expects the deal to close by the end of June, pending regulatory approval.

Kirkland Ellis is advising Molson Coors on the transaction. The firm’s team is led by Chicago corporate partners Scott Falk, Roger Rhoten, and Christopher Butler, along with London-based antitrust partner Shaun Goodman and New York–based corporate partner Christian Nagler. The firm advised Denver-based Coors in connection with 2005 merger with Canada’s Molson that created Molson Coors, and on the combined company’s 2007 joint venture with London’s SABMiller to form U.S. distributor MillerCoors.

In December, Molson Coors named Lathrop Gage alum Lee Reichert as its new general counsel.

Morgan Stanley, the lead financial adviser to Molson Coors on the deal, is being represented by a Weil, Gotshal Manges team that includes corporate partners Michael Aiello and Ian Hamilton. The firm’s finance team includes finance partner Morgan Bale, capital markets partners Jennifer Bensch and Stephen Lucas, tax and benefits partner William Horton, and corporate partner David Dederick.

CVC and StarBev are being advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Corporate partner Chris Brown is leading the firm’s team in London. Other Freshfields lawyers working on the deal include finance partners Duncan Kellaway and Martin Hutchings, and tax partner Jill Gatehouse. Partner Alastair Chapman and counsel Till Steinvorth are advising on antitrust aspects from London and Düsseldorf.

Freshfields also advised CVC on the 2009 purchase of Central Europe assets from Anheuser-Busch InBev.

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