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Melissa Sawyer


Melissa Sawyer

New York +1-212-558-4243+1-212-558-4243 +1-212-558-3588+1-212-558-3588
Melissa Sawyer is a partner in Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s Mergers & Acquisitions Group and is co-head of the Firm’s Consumer & Retail Group. In addition to advising clients on public and private M&A transactions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, she also regularly advises clients on corporate governance, activism and takeover defense matters. Ms. Sawyer’s experience spans multiple industries, including consumer and retail, industrials, medtech, insurance and cybersecurity.

Ms. Sawyer has been recognized repeatedly as a leading M&A advisor. In 2017, Ms. Sawyer was ranked by Chambers USA in Band 5 for Corporate/M&A. She also received a Burton Award for Legal Achievement for her co-authored article “M&A Implications for Corporate Governance and Succession Planning for Family-Controlled Businesses,” which was published in the May 2016 issue of The M&A Lawyer. In 2017, Ms. Sawyer was also recognized by Legal 500 USA and named a Rising Star by IFLR1000 for the fourth consecutive year. In 2016, Ms. Sawyer was recognized by Chambers USA for the third time as a Corporate M&A “Up and Coming” lawyer and selected by Super Lawyers as a “Top Woman Attorney in New York.” In 2015, she was also named as a “Dealmaker of the Week” by The American Lawyer, and was recognized for Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Governance and Compliance, and Business/Corporate by New York Super Lawyers, in addition to being chosen as an Empire State Counsel Honoree by the New York State Bar Association.

In the past three years alone, Ms. Sawyer has advised CSM Bakery in its sale of BakeMark to Pamplona Capital; CPPIB in its $1.2 billion pending acquisition of Parkway; DS Smith in its $920 million pending acquisition of 80% of the total issued share capital of Interstate Resources; Diageo in its $1 billion acquisition of Casamigos and its sale of Bushmills to, and acquisition of Tequila Don Julio from, Casa Cuervo; AT&T in its $108.7 billion pending acquisition of Time Warner Inc.; Nike in its strategic partnership to establish a new apparel supply chain company with Apollo Global Management; Apollo Education Group in its $1.1 billion going private transaction and on corporate governance matters related to its ongoing business transformation; Sotheby’s in its repurchase of 2.05 million shares of its common stock from funds managed by Marcato Capital Management, its acquisition of Art Agency, Partners, its support agreement with Taikang Insurance Group and on other ongoing governance matters; Cablevision in its sale to Altice; Cytec in its sale to Solvay; UnitedHealth Group in its acquisition of Catamaran; Tokio Marine in its acquisition of HCC; BBA Aviation in its acquisition of Landmark Aviation and sale of FBOs to KSL; CONMED in its acquisition of SurgiQuest; and Bessemer in the Hubbell reclassification transaction, among other matters.

Ms. Sawyer is currently a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and Secretary of the Mergers, Acquisitions & Corporate Control Contests Committee of the New York City Bar Association.

Ms. Sawyer also speaks and writes on corporate governance and M&A matters. She has participated in numerous panels for the Practising Law Institute and regularly writes for The M&A Lawyer, The Deal Pipeline and LexisNexis.

Recent Publications:
  • “Steps to Succession: Planning Techniques for Latin American Family Businesses,” STEP Journal (co-author) (April 2017)
  • “Getting to the Head of the Table,” Directors & Boards (February 2017)
  • “Rogue One: M&A in 2016, and What to Expect in 2017,” The M&A Lawyer (co-author) (January 2017)
  • “Top Ten Regulatory Considerations for Executing Consumer and Retail Deals,” Bloomberg BNA (co-author) (October 2016)
  • “M&A Implications of Corporate Governance and Succession Planning for Family-Controlled Businesses,” The M&A Lawyer (co-author) (May 2016)
  • “Five Issues Directors of Consumer and Retail Companies Should Consider Immediately Following a Cybersecurity Breach,” Bloomberg BNA (co-author) (July 2015)
  • “Changing Management in the Face of Shareholder Activism: Issues to Consider,” Harvard Business Law Review (March 2015)
Ms. Sawyer is a Hiring Partner, an Associate Development Partner and the Chair of the Knowledge Management Committee at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.