Line-up of elite US law firms advise on Amazon's $13.7bn Whole Foods purchase

Sullivan & Cromwell and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz are among a clutch of firms advising on Amazon’s $13.7bn (£10.7bn) purchase of Whole Foods Market, as the online retail giant moves into the grocery business and physical stores.

Sullivan M&A partners Krishna Veeraraghavan and Eric Krautheimer are leading a team from the firm advising Amazon, while Wachtell executive committee co-chair Daniel Neff and M&A partners Trevor Norwitz and Sabastian Niles are heading up the US team acting for organic grocery company Whole Foods.

Latham & Watkins corporate partners Adel Aslani-Far and Mark Gerstein are representing Evercore Partners in its role as financial adviser to Whole Foods on its proposed sale to Amazon, while Weil Gotshal & Manges banking partners Morgan Bale and Heather Viets, capital markets partner Faiza Rahman, M&A partner Raymond Gietz and tax partner William Horton are acting for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs, both of which are providing bridge financing for the acquisition of the grocery store chain.

Meanwhile, Paul Hastings partner Steve Camahort is advising Goldman Sachs in its role as financial adviser to Amazon.

The transaction itself is a first for Wachtell and Sullivan on behalf of Whole Foods and Amazon respectively. Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Dechert represented Whole Foods in the grocery store chain’s failed merger attempt with Wild Oats Marketplace in 2009.

For its part, Amazon has turned to a number of Am Law 100 firms for its countless acquisitions. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher advised the e-commerce giant on its $847m acquisition of shoe and apparel retailer Zappos and its subsequent $775m purchase in 2012 of Kiva Systems, an inventory robotic system.

Debevoise & Plimpton also picked up work for Amazon on its $500m acquisition of e-commerce company Quidsi, while most recently, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on his $250m all-cash purchase of The Washington Post in 2013.

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Jamie Gorelick serves as an independent member of Amazon’s board of directors, along with former Perkins Coie partner and executive committee member Tom Alberg. David Zapolsky, a former partner at Dorsey & Whitney and now-defunct Bogle & Gates, has served as Amazon’s general counsel since 2012.

In April, Whole Foods hired former Office Depot executive Heather Stern to serve as its new general counsel and global vice-president of legal affairs. Stern replaced Roberta Lang, a long-serving in-house legal chief at Whole Foods.