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JetBlue’s Spirit Deal Is a Win for Shearman & Sterling Firm (2)

July 28, 2022, 4:15 PMUpdated: July 28, 2022, 9:25 PM

JetBlue Airways Corp.’s deal to purchase Spirit Airlines is a win for Shearman & Sterling, the Big Law firm that has been advising the company in its bid to wrestle Spirit away from competitor Frontier Airlines.

JetBlue and Spirit on Thursday announced the $3.8 billion acquisition deal, which came less than a day after Frontier and Spirit called of their planned tie up. JetBlue muddied the waters for the latter deal in May by launching a hostile takeover bid.

The dueling campaigns have fueled months of work for a half dozen major law firms during a slump in deal activity.

Founded in 1873 and known for representing clients including the Rockefellers, Henry Ford and Jay Gould, Shearman & Sterling’s work for JetBlue publicly began early in the year and included a large team of M&A, antitrust, capital markets, tax, and other lawyers. The team was led by partners Daniel Litowitz, Derrick Lott, Jessica Delbaum, and Doreen Lilienfeld.

Latham & Watkins represented Frontier in the original deal to buy Spirit, unveiled in February at a price of $2.9 billion. Latham’s team was led by Bay Area partners Mark Bekheit and Tony Richmond, according to a firm announcement.

Debevoise & Plimpton advised Spirit throughout the lengthy process, which started with Spirit rebuffing JetBlue’s initial offer over antitrust scrutiny concerns. Corporate partners Gregory Gooding and William Regner led Debevoise’s team on the original transaction with Frontier.

Paul Weiss Wharton Rifkind & Garrison is also advising Spirit in the deal announced on Thursday. The firm has been advising on antitrust aspects of both transactions, led by Andrew Finch, who previously served as a high-ranking official in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is representing Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC as financial advisor to Spirit. Its team includes partners Alexandra McCormack, Allison Schneirov, Brett Fleisher and associate Gurjot Kaur.

JetBlue turned during the antitrust fight to Muger Tolles & Olson partner Glenn Pomerantz, who said a Spirit-JetBlue deal would pass Justice Department and court scrutiny. That garnered a rebuke from Frontier, which called Pomerantz’s video testimony “choreographed” and told Spirit that JetBlue “was not telling you the truth.”

(Adds info on Paul Weiss partner leading antitrust work in seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com