Chris LaFollette Profiled as Top Texas M&A Dealmaker for 2015 by The Texas Lawbook
(Houston) – Akin Gump Houston office partner in charge Chris LaFollette led more mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures or divestitures than any other lawyer in Texas last year, according to The Texas Lawbook.
LaFollette led or co-led 14 deals for buyers or sellers in 2015. She also advised the conflicts committee of Regency Energy Partners in its $18 billion merger with Energy Transfer Partners (ETP). In addition, the publication notes, she was active with capital markets transactions as well, helping Laredo Petroleum Corporation, Bill Barrett Corporation and Cimarex Energy raise nearly $2 billion in cash.
LaFollette told The Texas Lawbook that each of her deals was a team effort. She co-led many of them with fellow partner John Goodgame, who took the publication’s top spot for M&A dealmaking in the first half of 2015. “It’s not something that is a one-man show,” she said.
Among LaFollette’s other deals last year, were two dropdown transactions for ETP involving selling its remaining interests in Sunoco, LLC and interests in the Sunoco retail business to Sunoco, LP. Both of those transactions totaled approximately $4 billion. She told The Texas Lawbook the transactions she handled last year for midstream MLPs were increasingly more strategic to help their cash flow, which she says will be more challenged in 2016 if oil prices remain low.
LaFollette said the people behind the transactions are what motivates her, regardless of how much a deal might be worth. “I’m not sure the zeroes really make a difference,” she said. “When using the ‘B’ word, it will probably expand into a lot more disciplines. But you start with the basics of understanding the objective of the transaction. [You must] be creative, thoughtful and extremely careful.”
Looking ahead to the coming year, LaFollette said she anticipates being more involved in helping clients think a few steps ahead. “Companies are having to cut budgets, announce layoffs – it’s just so hard,” she said. “The people your kids go to school with and are on charity events with are losing their jobs. It’s a tough situation to see.”
LaFollette said she doesn’t spend time wondering when oil prices will go back up, but rather, how to work through the current conditions. “Focus on the building blocks and go back to the basics,” she said. “I tell young attorneys all the time it’s why we call it the practice of law – it’s always evolving. We will continue to be in interesting times.”
To read the full profile of LaFollette, please click here.
Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 950 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
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