'The Deal' Names Ken Siegel '86 a Mover and Shaker in Japan

From The Deal magazine:

Morrison & Foerster LLP Tokyo managing partner Ken Siegel has seen sweeping changes in Japanese dealmaking since he arrived in the city almost two decades ago. "In 1994 it was all about strategic alliances and investments in entities based on long, historical relationships, with some late-round VC," he says. "Companies moved too slowly to be a material factor in competitive M&A, but they've since become much more sophisticated and can participate much more effectively in a far broader range of transaction," including, notably, hostile bids. (Though they have long been possible under Japanese shareholder law and regulations, hostile bids were widely seen as forbidden.)

Siegel's team advised on Japan's first successful hostile takeover -- Astellas Pharma Inc.'s $4 billion acquisition of OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Melville, N.Y., in 2010. "I expect more hostile deals and more deals where companies expect to take on more risk after the transaction," Siegel says.

On the auction front, Siegel advised Toshiba Corp. on its $2.3 billion acquisition of Swiss smart-meter maker Landis+Gyr AG last May. "Toshiba was able to prevail over a six-week period even though they were the last people qualified for a bid because of the earthquake," he says.

Siegel, a technology specialist, has just advised on Hitachi Ltd.'s $4.3 billion hard-disk-drive sale to Western Digital Corp., which earlier this month gained conditional Federal Trade Commission clearance. He sees high tech as one of the sweet spots for inbound -- as well as outbound -- Japanese M&A.

Within Japan "publicly traded technology companies are very undervalued, so we are seeing a lot of interest -- particularly in the semiconductor sector," he says. "Many tech companies are looking at freeing up assets and selling themselves to outside investors."

Siegel, 53, also advised on Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.'s investment banking venture with Morgan Stanley.

With a B.A. from Amherst College, a graduate degree in international affairs from Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, Siegel speaks Japanese, Greek and Italian. He recommends "immersion" as the best method of learning the Asian language. But he says: "If you are an attorney, first establish yourself as a strong adviser -- your language skills are secondary."