Hogan Lovells and Gibson Dunn among legal line-up on Walmart's $16bn India e-commerce purchase

Lawyers from half a dozen large firms are advising on a $16bn deal that will see Walmart acquire a majority stake in Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart.

The transaction will see Walmart take a 77% stake in the Bengaluru-based company. The remainder of the online shopping company will be owned by its existing investors, including Microsoft, Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings, and hedge fund Tiger Global Management.

Hogan Lovells M&A partners Richard Climan and Christopher Moore in Silicon Valley are advising Walmart on the largest e-commerce deal in its history, along with Singapore managing partner Stephanie Keen.

Hogan Lovells won a bidding war nearly a year ago for Climan and his technology transactions team, which previously worked at Weil Gotshal & Manges. Moore left Weil in June to join Hogan Lovells.

Since then, Climan and Moore have worked closely on a number of large deals, including advising Marvell Technology Group on its pending $6bn buy of Cavium, and Synopsys on its $565m acquisition of Black Duck Software. By getting the work on Walmart’s proposed purchase of Flipkart, Hogan Lovells hopes to cement its role as a power player in the market for high-end technology sector transactions in Silicon Valley.

When Walmart paid $3.3bn in 2016 to buy Jet.com, the US retail giant turned to an outside legal team led by Fenwick & West and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. The latter has been a longstanding legal adviser to Walmart on a variety of matters, from high-stakes litigation to bribery allegations involving a subsidiary in Mexico.

Gibson Dunn Hong Kong head Kelly Austin is leading a team representing Walmart on the deal that includes white-collar partners Michael Farhang and Joseph Warin, while leading Indian firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co is also advising Walmart on the deal.

US west coast firm Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, which has served as outside counsel to Flipkart since 2011, is serving as lead M&A and international counsel to the company on the deal, fielding a team led by partners Andrew Luh, Mark Foster, Steven Baglio, David Sharrow, Jonathan Pentzien and Ferish Patel. Pentzien and Patel are based out of a Singapore office that Gunderson Dettmer opened a little over a year ago.

Singapore’s Allen & Gledhill, Dentons Rodyk & Davidson (an affiliate of Dentons in Singapore) and India’s Khaitan & Co and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas are also advising Flipkart, an online retail platform that was founded in 2007 by two former Amazon.com employees. Executive chairman Sachin Bansal confirmed that he will leave the company after selling his entire 5.5% stake and becoming an instant billionaire.

Trilegal, another top Indian firm, is advising Cape Town-based Naspers on the sale of its 11% stake in Flipkart, a move that Bloomberg reports will earn Africa’s largest company a cool $1.6bn.

The acquisition of Flipkart is the latest in a series of deals by Walmart in recent years to help the company compete for customers with e-commerce industry leader Amazon. The deal also calls for Walmart to invest $2bn in equity funding into Flipkart. Walmart is keen on gaining market share in India, where Flipkart claims to have 100 million users signed up to its platform.

Walmart is also currently being advised by Slaughter and May on the proposed merger of UK supermarket giants Asda and Sainsbury’s. Gibson Dunn is advising Walmart and Asda on competition issues, while Linklaters has taken the lead role for Sainsbury’s.