Norton Rose advises Domtar on its acquisition of Attends Healthcare in Europe

As John Coleman, now managing partner of Norton Rose Canada, told the Globe and Mail when the merger between Ogilvy Renault and Norton Rose was announced: “We’re the last business, even probably the last profession, to go global.”

Fast forward one year. An international acquisition by Domtar, a long-standing client of Ogilvy Renault’s Montreal office, serves as an example of how Norton Rose Canada lawyers are working within the larger global group.

The Domtar deal, a €180 million purchase of Attends Healthcare’s European business, was led by a team in London, England, with Chris Hunter, a partner in the Toronto office, providing IP advice.

“Within Norton Rose worldwide, one of the strongest centres of intellectual property is in Canada,” says Hunter, “So in looking at the resources available to Norton Rose globally, they looked at the strong resources here, and decided to bring in the expertise we have in the Toronto office.”

Because the deal involved a target that sells diaper products in Europe, Hunter — along with lawyer and patent agent Eric Lavers and patent agent Christine Wong — was charged with understanding any risks there might be of patent infringement or other IP infringement.

He characterizes the experience as having a certain comfort level. “In other deals I’ve been on, we’d be Canadian counsel, and the client would pick New York counsel, or London counsel, and we’re both on the same side, but you then have to work your way around the personalities, the practices, the territory of the other firm, even though you’re both on the same side.” he explains. “Whereas in this case, we’re on the same side, nobody’s concerned about hogging billings. If there’s a toss-up as to whether something should be done in London or Toronto, you just do whatever is appropriate.”

In the early 1990s, Hunter worked on global deals at Andersen Consulting/Accenture and sees a similar outlook now at Norton Rose – but with much better access to technology tools. “Whether the person is two floors up or two continents away, communicating is pretty seamless,” he says.

The deal, which is subject to German regulatory approval, is expected to close at the end of February.

Taylor Wessing advised the seller, Rutland Partners, and Dickinson Dees advised the management of Attends Heathcare on the transaction.

– Gena Smith

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