Firm Advises Celsia in $840 Million Power Plant Deal

On August 13, it was announced that Willkie client Celsia SA, Colombia’s fourth-largest power producer, has agreed to buy stakes in seven power plants in Panama and Costa Rica from GDF Suez in a deal valued at $840 million. The company will buy hydroelectric and thermal plants in Panama and a wind plant in Costa Rica.  The deal is expected to add 535 megawatts of generating capacity, boosting the company’s total by 30 percent. The transaction marks the company’s first international expansion.   Celsia (previously Compañía Colombiana de Inversiones S.A. E.S.P.) specializes in the generation and distribution of electric energy.  Based in Courbevoie, France, GDF Suez operates atomic reactors, pipelines and offshore gas platforms.

The deal was handled by a multidisciplinary Willkie team including partners Maria-Leticia Ossa Daza, Thomas Cerabino, Jeffrey Goldfarb, Christopher Peters and Jordan Messigner; of counsel William Thomas and associates Julian Golay, Carlos Barnard, Pablo Richards and Adam Keith.

Court Upholds Landmark Jury Verdict for Willkie Client, Photojournalist Daniel Morel

On August 13, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a Decision and Order upholding the jury’s verdict that Agence France-Presse and Getty Images (US) Inc. must pay $1.22 million for willfully infringing photojournalist Daniel Morel’s copyrights in his award-winning images of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Willkie is representing Mr. Morel in the case, which has received widespread media attention.

In the Decision, the Court rejected defendants’ argument that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that the defendants acted willfully when they wrongfully misappropriated and transmitted Mr. Morel’s photographs to over 1,000 of their subscribers and licensees. The Court also left intact the jury’s award of the maximum statutory damages available under the Copyright Act. The Court held: “There was evidence from which the jury could have concluded that Defendants' infringement (and particularly AFP's) was not just willful but reflected a gross disregard for the rights of copyright holders.”

After learning of the Decision, Mr. Morel said, “I am grateful that Judge Nathan recognizes the value of a photojournalist’s work and that she is holding AFP and Getty Images fully responsible for what they did to me. I hope no other photojournalist will have to go through a similar ordeal.”

In its feature article, entitled “Willkie Preserves Copyright Win for Haitian Photographer,” The AmLaw Litigation Daily highlights that “It fell to Willkie’s [Joseph] Baio to make Morel’s case to the jury. After a week-long trial before Nathan, jurors found that AFP and Getty engaged in willful infringement and awarded Morel $1.2 million in statutory damages, which was the maximum allowable under the Copyright Act.”

The case was handled by Mr. Baio and associates Emma J. James, Teri Seigal and Maureen Kellett, and legal assistant Monica Jones.

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Litigation Department Obtains Landmark Verdict in High-Profile Copyright Infringement Case Involving Social Media

Frankfurt Office Advises Ardian on Acquisition of ADA Cosmetics

On July 24, Willkie client Ardian, a leading independent private investment company, announced that it has agreed to acquire ADA Cosmetics International GmbH from the Carlyle Group.  ADA Cosmetics is Europe’s leading manufacturer of high-quality hotel cosmetics.

This is the eighth investment from Ardian’s Expansion Fund III, which closed in March 2014 at €500 million. The management of ADA Cosmetics has again taken a minority stake in the company as part of the transaction, which is subject to approval by the antitrust authorities. Working with Ardian, the management intends to grow the company across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Founded in Kehl, Germany in 1979, ADA Cosmetics’ customer base is largely three to five star hotel chains, as well as airlines and cruise ships. With around 300 employees and seven subsidiaries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East as well as a global distribution network, ADA supplies nearly 15,000 customers in more than 50 countries. Ardian, with assets of $47 billion managed or advised in Europe, North America and Asia, is majority-owned by its employees. In May, Willkie represented Ardian in its acquisition of German toy manufacturer Schleich from European private equity investor HgCapital.

The Willkie team on the current deal was led by partners Mario Schmidt (corporate/private equity) and Jan Wilms (finance) and included national partners Rolf Hünermann (compliance/antitrust) and Dr. Christian Rolf (HR), and associates Dr. Maximilian Schwab (corporate/private equity), Mario Bammann (finance), Dr. Jan Claudio Munoz (corporate/private equity), Jochen Riechwald (HR) and Daniel Zakrzewski (corporate/private equity).