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Willkie is one of the industry’s preeminent advisors to private equity funds, having counseled sponsors, targets and portfolio companies for more than 50 years. Our team handles transactions worldwide, with attorneys based in 13 key market centers across the United States and Europe. We are a destination firm for both large-cap and middle-market deals, and our clients include more than 300 private equity sponsors, as well as thousands of portfolio companies and management teams. Collaborating across geographies, industries, and practice disciplines, we provide a full-service, 360° private equity platform that serves clients’ needs. A client reported to Chambers USA 2021, “They are responsive and will move heaven and earth for us. They’re extremely capable, qualified and a tremendous asset to our business. We would not be where we are without the firm.” A client told Chambers USA 2022 that Willkie’s private equity practice is “[c]lient-centric in all respects.”

Our private equity practice advises on everything from fund structuring and formation, platform acquisitions, tuck-in acquisitions, co-invest structures and joint ventures, to bank credit, direct lending and other debt financings, IPOs, follow-on offerings, SPACs, PIPEs and ultimate exits. Our platform includes an exceptionally strong team of regulatory practitioners with deep experience in a wide range of compliance issues, including Investment Company Act, Investment Advisers Act, insurance, FCPA, sanctions, antitrust and competition, FINRA, CFTC, energy/FERC, bank, CFIUS and telecom matters, as well as related compliance practices, investigations, examinations, litigation and other proceedings. Our private equity team is also closely integrated with complementary practices, including leveraged finance, capital markets, tax, employee benefits and executive compensation, intellectual property, cybersecurity and data privacy, real estate, restructuring, environmental, ESG and technology/IT, among other areas. A client reported to Chambers USA 2021, “They’re very strong and provide a full service. We use them as a one-stop shop.”

As a result of this comprehensive service approach and our laser focus on providing timely and integrated advice, clients regularly grow with us over time as their business goals and challenges evolve. Clients told Chambers Global 2022 that “[t]he client service is outstanding,” and “[t]he various offices of the law firm work together smoothly, and it is always clear who the contact person is.”

Our experience includes representing:

  • Aquiline Capital Partners in its majority investment in Distinguished Programs, a national insurance program manager
  • Centerbridge Partners in its acquisition of a controlling stake in Realogy’s title insurance underwriter, as part of a strategic agreement to form a title insurance underwriter joint venture with Realogy
  • FFL Partners and its portfolio company Accordion in the sale of a majority stake in Accordion to Charlesbank Capital Partners and Motive Partners
  • Genstar Capital in its investment in Cerity Partners, a leading independent wealth management firm
  • Insight Partners, as lead co-investor in an equity consortium, in the acquisition of Inovalon, a leading provider of cloud-based platforms empowering data-driven healthcare
  • PAI Partners in the acquisition of a majority stake in Euro Ethnic Foods (EEF), the company that owns and operates the grocery section of leading food retailer Grand Frais
  • Shamrock Capital Advisors in its strategic investment in Highwire PR, a premier communications partner for leading technology and healthcare companies
  • Warburg Pincus in its investment in Tiptree Inc.’s insurance subsidiary, The Fortegra Group, LLC

For a more extensive list of our clients and representative transactions, please see the Private Equity and Venture Capital and Growth Equity Experience sections below.

Our clients –including private equity and venture capital firms as well as other sources of debt and equity capital – operate across a broad range of industries, including technology (including fintech and insurtech); healthcare and life sciences; financial services; insurance; business services; consumer products and retail; entertainment; energy; and industrials, to name just a few. 

We represent many of the portfolio companies of our sponsor clients, from inbound investment/acquisition by the sponsor, through their lifecycle to exit. 

Willkie’s European private equity practice is a market leader in the UK and across the Continent. The team comprises dedicated partners and associates in five key European jurisdictions (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and the UK), as well as private equity-focused practitioners with deep experience in leveraged finance, tax, regulatory and restructuring, among other areas. The client base of our European practice includes European and North American sponsors that are actively investing across Europe and the rest of the world. A client highlighted to Chambers Europe 2022 the firm’s “knowledge of the private equity sector and its ability to mix legal technical skills with a business-oriented mindset.” Sources reported to The Legal 500 UK 2022 that Willkie has “provided a very complete private equity service which carefully integrates deal, fund and LP matters.” 

Our private equity buyouts practice and team members have been recognized by a number of leading third-party organizations in the United States and Europe, including Chambers, The Legal 500, The Deal, IFLR1000, Best Lawyers/Best Law Firms, Le Point and JUVE. Select accolades include:

  • Ranked on a global-wide basis by Chambers Global 2023 for Private Equity
  • Ranked #3 globally among all law firms involved in private equity-backed buyout deals for the period 2022 through the first half of 2023 by Preqin
  • Named “Firm of the Year” for Private Equity Law by The Best Lawyers in France™ 2024
  • Named “Leveraged Buyouts and Private Equity Law Firm of the Year” by U.S. News Best Law Firms 2021
  • Shortlisted for “Best Law Firm – Overall” and “Best Law Firm – Transactions” at the Private Equity Wire US Awards 2023
  • Shortlisted for “Private Equity Law Firm of the Year” at the Chambers USA Awards 2021
  • Shortlisted for “Law Firm of the Year for Private Equity and Venture Capital” at the JUVE Awards 2022
  • Practices and attorneys ranked for Private Equity by Chambers UK 2024 and Chambers Europe 2023 in each of the UK, France and Germany
  • Ranked by Chambers USA 2023 for Private Equity: Buyouts in both the Nationwide – High-end Capability and Nationwide – Mid-Market categories (one of only two firms ranked in both categories)
  • Ranked #7 among law firms advising the bidder on global private equity buyout deals, by number of deals, for deals announced in 2023 by Mergermarket

Venture Capital and Growth Equity

We are a leading advisor to the most active venture and growth-stage investors in the world, as well as to high-growth companies. Our clients range from financial sponsors to family offices and strategic businesses. We have provided counsel on significant investments in emerging companies across a range of industries and sectors, including software, fintech, insurtech, financial services, healthcare, biotech, entertainment, media, gaming and sports. Our work includes domestic and cross-border capital markets and M&A transactions from inception to realization across North America, Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. This diverse, life cycle experience allows us to bring extensive market knowledge to each transaction and efficiency in execution.

Willkie was ranked by Preqin as one of the most prominent law firms involved in venture capital deals, by deal size, for the period 2022 through the first half of 2023 in the less than $50 million, $50-99 million, $100-499 million and $500-999 million categories.

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Experience

Our experience includes representing: 

  • 3i Group in its sale of CHRIST Group, a leading German jewellery and watch retailer, to Morellato Group
  • Aquiline Capital Partners in its majority investment in Distinguished Programs, a national insurance program manager
  • ASG, a portfolio company of Alpine Investors that buys and builds vertical SaaS companies, in its acquisition of Hotel Effectiveness, a software industry leader for hotel labour optimization
  • Atlas Holdings in its acquisition of Permasteelisa, a global contractor in the engineering, manufacturing and installation of advanced building facades, architectural envelopes and interiors, from LIXIL Group
  • Blackstone and its portfolio company Clarion Events on Clarion’s joint venture with gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH to host leading consumer electronics and home appliances trade show IFA  
  • Blue Wolf Capital Partners LLC in its acquisition of Colson Group, a global leader in caster and wheel product solutions, from affiliates of Sentinel Capital Partners
  • Capstreet in the sale of Onpoint Industrial Services, a provider of safety, logistics and planning services, to MML Capital
  • CapVest in its acquisition of leading European chocolate maker, Natra 
  • Carrix in a growth-oriented investment by, and subsequent sale of a controlling interest to, funds affiliated with Blackstone Infrastructure Partners
  • Centerbridge Partners in its acquisition of a controlling stake in Realogy’s title insurance underwriter, as part of a strategic agreement to form a title insurance underwriter joint venture with Realogy
  • CVC in its acquisition of a majority stake in The Quality Group, and on its acquisition of a majority stake in Cooper Consumer Health (Cooper) from Charterhouse Capital Partners 
  • Dubin Clark in the sale of its portfolio company Sila Heating & Air, a leading provider of HVAC replacement, service, maintenance, plumbing solutions, and water treatment, to funds affiliated with Morgan Stanley Capital Partners  
  • FFL Partners and its portfolio company Accordion in the sale of a majority stake in Accordion to Charlesbank Capital Partners and Motive Partners
  • FTV Capital on the sale of its majority stake in Centaur, a global provider of fund administration services, to Waystone
  • Genstar Capital in its investment in Cerity Partners, a leading independent wealth management firm, and in its acquisition of Numerix, the leader in capital markets risk management technology
  • IK Partners on the sale of its stake in LINXIS Group, a leading global supplier of industrial processing equipment and automation solutions for the food, pharma and cosmetic industries, to Hillenbrand, Inc.
  • Insight Partners, as lead co-investor in an equity consortium, in the acquisition of Inovalon, a leading provider of cloud-based platforms empowering data-driven healthcare
  • Intermediate Capital Group in its acquisition of a controlling stake in Circet, the leading telecommunications network service provider in Europe 
  • Levine Leichtman Capital Partners in its acquisition of the Creditinfo Group, in partnership with its founder and management team
  • LS Power in the formation of clean energy platform REV Renewables, and the subsequent investment by SK E&S Co, a global clean energy solutions provider
  • MSD Private Capital in its acquisition of West Monroe Partners Inc.
  • Numerix, a portfolio company of Genstar Capital, in its acquisition of PolyPaths, a provider of analytics and risk management solutions for financial institutions.

  • PAI Partners in the acquisition of a majority stake in Euro Ethnic Foods (EEF), the company that owns and operates the grocery section of leading food retailer Grand Frais, and in its pending acquisition of Tropicana, Naked and other select juice brands across North America from PepsiCo, Inc.

  • Platinum Equity in its acquisition of Pro-Mark, the parent company of Orbit Irrigation and Hydro-Rain
  • Recognize Partners in connection with a strategic investment in AST Corporation, a leading cloud and digital transformation solutions provider
  • Searchlight Capital Partners in its acquisition and subsequent sale of Global Risk Partners, a leading UK-based insurance brokerage business
  • Shamrock Capital Advisors in its strategic investment in Highwire PR, a premier communications partner for leading technology and healthcare companies
  • Stone Point Capital in its acquisition of SambaSafety, the market-leading provider of mobility risk management technology for auto insurance carriers, brokers and employers
  • Tenex Capital Management in its sale of AquaCentral, a leading distributor of pool equipment and supplies, to Heritage Pool Supply Group, a platform within SRS Distribution, a portfolio company of Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. and Berkshire Partners
  • Warburg Pincus in its investment in Tiptree Inc.’s insurance subsidiary, The Fortegra Group, LLC
 

Our experience includes representing: 

  • AIRNA Corporation in its formation and financing with ARCH Ventures, NanoDimension and Fast Track Initiative
  • Aquiline Technology Growth in its investment in FinDox, which provides software and data analytics to CLO managers in the leveraged loan market, and in a funding round for Treasury Intelligence Solutions, a leading cloud platform for managing corporate payments and cash flows
  • Cosmo Media Labs, Inc., a multi-functional production studio for content, gaming and brand partnerships, in its formation and investment from The Sandbox
  • Cowen Inc. in several seed and growth equity investments, including in Kyber Data Science, a next-gen healthcare data platform for institutional investors, and in PolySign, a developer of secure and scalable infrastructure for financial institutions to fully leverage their digital assets
  • Enlightened Hospitality Investments in its growth equity investment in ConverseNow, the leading voice AI technology platform for restaurants
  • EvHead in multiple financing rounds with A Medium Corporation, including a recapitalization, and in multiple investments in early stage technology companies and venture capital funds, including Obvious Ventures, Obsidian Investment Partners, Kid Distro Management, Pumpkin Pie, Level Man, and Branch Out Productions
  • FMZ Venture Fund in multiple investments in early stage companies, including XBP, Endel Sound, HeyJobs, Brightline, Better Place Forests, Sesame, Trusted, Fever Labs, MerxU, and Farmer’s Business Network 
  • Henry Crown & Co. in a number of venture capital investments
  • Insellerate, Inc. in connection with a financing round led by Argentum Capital Partners
  • Insight Partners as lead investor in several hundred seed, venture and growth equity-stage investments, including:
    • its investments in Calm, which helps users cope with some of the most important mental health issues of the modern age
    • its investments in Divvy, a fintech startup helping businesses manage expenses, and in the company’s sale to Bill.com
    • its investments in Monday.com, an Israeli startup in the project management and to-do app space, and in the company’s subsequent initial public offering
    • its investments in MURAL, a leading digital workspace for visual collaboration in the enterprise
    • multiple rounds of financing for nCino, a leader in secure, cloud-based operating solutions to the financial services industry
    • its investments in, and the subsequent IPO of, SentinelOne, an autonomous endpoint protection company
  • Joopiter, a global digital-first auction house and content platform founded by Pharrell Williams, in connection with seed financing from Lightspeed Venture Partners
  • Magnetar Capital as lead investor in a funding round for Enable Injections, a company specializing in wearable drug delivery systems
  • Mint House, a leading tech-enabled residential hospitality company, in connection with a round of funding
  • Shamrock Capital in its investment in Religion of Sports, a leading sports media production company
  • Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. in a number of venture capital investments
  • The Chernin Group (TCG) as lead investor in a funding round for the Premier Lacrosse League, and in its growth equity investment in CarsandBids.com, an online auction house for the modern car enthusiast
  • WeatherPromise Inc. in its formation and seed financing led by Lerer Hippeau and 1Sharpe Ventures
 

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