CORRS CHAMBERS WESTGARTH advised on the speedy sale of family-owned Australian workwear company Yakka to Pacific Brands in February — the company’s biggest purchase since floating on the ASX in 2004.
The final purchase price hasn’t been finalised as yet, but is expected to be in the range $250 million to $280 million.
Gilbert + Tobin lead partner John Williamson-Noble and Adam Laura advised Pacific Brands.
Corrs said a key part of its work was to negotiate the agreement for the sale of the shares for the various members of the Laidlaw family and the corporate entity that owned the Yakka business.
Corrs’ lead partner on the deal Jeremy McCarthy said the deal was “done and dusted” in just a fortnight.
“Consistent with the Laidlaw family’s well known no-nonsense style, key legal negotiations were concluded in effectively two weeks,” he said.
The parties took a collaborative approach to the sale, he said, with the Pacific Brands general counsel taking a greater direct role than usual.
“It was quite common for John Grover, the general counsel of Pacific Brands, to have a hands on role in the transaction. Sometimes he’d deal directly, and at other times he’d defer to Gilbert + Tobin,” McCarthy said.
“Normally you’d probably be dealing with the lawyers the whole time, and the clients would be attending meetings, but in this case the timeframe was so tight they wanted to cut through the lines that normally exist to bring things to a head.”
The brevity of the deal extended to the documentation.
“One thing that was unusual probably was how brief and succinct all the transaction documents were. They were very short documents and both the Laidlaw family and Pacific Brands were very much into just cutting to the chase on agreeing the key points of the deal.
“So everything was done extremely efficiently and very collaboratively.”
He said one reason the details could be kept to a minimum was that both parties had had extensive contact before involving their lawyers.
“There was certainly a lot of commercial discussions between them so that they had a pretty clear understanding between themselves as to what the deal was, and I think that did help.”
CEO of Pacific Brands Paul Moore said the acquisition “will give us a much stronger apparel business in general with stronger representation in the independent channel, fitting extremely well alongside our existing workwear, sporting and lifestyle apparel businesses”.
McCarthy’s team included senior associate, Mary Manos, Simon Morris and Vanessa Smith.
Yakka was founded by the Laidlaw family in the 1930s. The company distributes industrial and corporate workwear, casual wear, jeans and footwear in Australia and New Zealand, with brands including Yakka, Hard Yakka, Wrangler Jeans and Lee Jeans.
Pacific Brands owns many other iconic Australian brands including Bonds, King Gee, Hush Puppies, Sleepmaker and Grosby.