Law firm trio pilots Sitel Group’s buy of IT services peer Sykes

Ballard Spahr their legal offices in Philadelphia. 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

  • Deal closing set for 2021’s second half
  • Shumaker advises Sykes, with Ballard Spahr guiding board’s special transaction committee
  • Freshfields represents Sitel

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(Reuters) – Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick; Ballard Spahr; and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer are steering IT services company Sitel Group’s roughly $2.2 billion purchase of publicly-traded customer service outsourcing firm Sykes Enterprises Inc.

As a result of the deal, announced on Friday, Sykes will delist from Nasdaq, according to the press release. Tampa, Florida-based Sykes, which provides outsourcing services to businesses, has customers in sectors including financial services, technology, communications and health care.

Sykes has tapped a Shumaker team led by corporate partners Greg Yadley and Will Blair for advice on the deal.

Ballard Spahr is also guiding a special transaction committee formed by the company’s board.

Freshfields is advising new client Miami-based Sitel Group on the deal with a corporate and mergers and acquisitions team led by partners Joseph Halloum and Ethan Klingsberg.

Among the firm’s newest additions, Halloum moved to Freshfields from Kirkland & Ellis in March. He hails from the firm’s Silicon Valley office, which opened in July 2020.

The firm added Klingsberg and his team in 2019 from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton to its New York office.

Halloum told Reuters that the firm’s latest M&A deal was an example of technology companies completing acquisitions to reach the market as quickly as possible amid intense competition.

“It’s less of a debate about doing it on your own and more about ‘How do we get the right team, and how do we take this technology further and integrate it within our own technology so that we can stay competitive in the marketplace?’” Halloum said.

Klingsberg said that Sitel Group’s all-cash purchase comes as technology companies, which generally thrived amid the COVID-19 pandemic, are looking for ways to spend down cash they’ve accumulated.

“Nobody in the market is getting credit anymore for having excess liquidity cushion,” Klingsberg said. “So right now, we’re seeing an explosion of M&A strategy by our strategic clients in the tech sector.”

The firm is benefiting from that activity. It just advised London-based private equity firm Charterhouse Capital Partners on the $2.6 billion merger of its portfolio company Mirion Technologies with a Goldman Sachs Group Inc-backed special purpose acquisition earlier this week.

Freshfields has advised on 119 announced M&A deals worth nearly $175.8 billion so far this year, according to data firm Refinitiv. The firm ranks 10th among the top 25 law firms advising on M&A deals.

Sitel Group’s purchase of Sykes is expected to wrap up in the second half of the year.

Sykes financial adviser is Goldman Sachs & Co, and Sitel Group’s is Lazard Freres SAS.

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Sierra Jackson

Sierra Jackson reports on legal matters in major mergers and acquisitions, including deal work, litigation and regulatory changes. Reach her at sierra.jackson@thomsonreuters.com

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Sierra Jackson