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Simpson Thacher's Klein Balances Big Deals and Great Films

SImpson Thacher M&A co-head Alan Klein

Alan Klein is the chairman of the board of trustees at the Film Forum in New York, but he didn't have as much time as he might have liked to catch art house movies last year. Instead, Klein, the co-head of M&A at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, was the lead lawyer for companies in four of 2016's largest deals, the largest and most complicated of which is still pending.

Klein is advising China National Chemical on its $43 billion agreement to buy Syngenta (SYT) . ChemChina came in as a white knight as the Basel, Switzerland-based agribusiness giant was fending off an unwanted approach from St. Louis-based rival Monsanto (MON) and signed up with Syngenta on Feb. 3. Not only was there "a lot of delicacy about ChemChina's coming on the scene," Klein said; the deal is the largest outbound Chinese acquisition ever and involves significant legal complexity. Klein credited a number of his partners for playing key roles on the deal, especially Shaolin Luo in Beijing, who has a strong relationship with the client.

Syngenta is incorporated in Switzerland, but its shares are listed in Zurich and on the NYSE, so the companies had to match up Swiss takeover law and the U.S. tender offer rules, which Klein and his partner Chris May focused on. Simpson's Peter Thomas helped ChemChina win CFIUS approval for the deal in August, and the companies are still in the process of obtaining antitrust and competition approval in more than 20 countries, a process led by Simpson's David Vann and Peter...