Christopher S.W. Blake

Partner
cswblake@hahnlaw.com 216.274.2552

Summary

As co-chair of each of the firm’s Corporation Transaction Group and International Practice Area, Chris focuses his practice on both domestic and international corporate and transactional matters. He specializes in mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, recapitalizations and financings. 

Chris regularly helps his clients determine the right approach to enter into a new market, whether by  acquisition or joint venture or by distributorship or sales agreement, and whether that new market is another state, another nation-state or, in the case of in-bound foreign clients, the United States.   A former foreign language teacher, his heightened skills to identify and interpret cross-border issues are why his clients around the world regularly call on him to advise them on legal issues and counsel them on transactions that go beyond borders.

A seasoned deal lawyer, Chris effectively and efficiently negotiates M&A transactions on behalf of his clients  while counseling them on core issues to provide maximum protection from, and allocation of, risk.  His pragmatic approach to deal negotiations and general business advice has led several clients who have been sold to independent third parties to continue to call on him to be primary legal counsel for all of their corporate matters.

At Hahn Loeser

International Business M&A and Other Transactions

As an international business law attorney, Chris regularly represents numerous foreign and domestic public and private companies, private equity firms, family offices and even estate planning vehicles as buyers and sellers of divisions, “going concern” businesses, equity stakes and discrete assets and the financings of such purchases and sales.  He is also well versed in the negotiation and completion of domestic and cross-border joint ventures.  As a part of his international work, Chris is highly experienced in the documentation and negotiation of international sales, supplier and distribution agreements and has done extensive work in cross-border sale of goods transactions. He also has experience with  international corporate formation and dissolution issues in a variety of countries, and has counseled clients on a variety of export control laws issues.

Financing

On the financing side, Chris has extensive experience in negotiating senior, subordinated and mezzanine debt arrangements, and has represented governmental, institutional and private lenders and borrowers in sophisticated transactions involving traditional and nontraditional collateral.

Industry Expertise

Chris also has particular experience in the area of gaming law, in which has advised clients on regulatory compliance, ownership structures and operations of gaming establishments in seven states. He has assisted with the diligence, acquisition and financing of more than 25 gaming operations, and has helped the acquiring parties become licensed by the applicable gaming authorities. He has also interacted with charitable and for-profit gaming regulators in jurisdictions in the Midwest and Southern United States to coordinate ongoing licensing reviews and complete suitability investigations of key owners or employees of gaming operations. 

While Chris’ client roster includes companies and individuals involved in a variety of industries, Chris has a notable wealth of experience representing clients in the food and beverage and related packaging industries.

Real Estate

Related to his deal work, Chris has a wealth of experience in general real estate-related services, including the negotiation of purchases, sales and leases of commercial and residential real estate and mortgages, and other liens on such properties.

 

Community

A self-professed film fanatic, Chris has served on the board of the Cleveland International Film Festival since 2005 and is currently its vice president of Strategic Planning and  co-chair of its Strategic Planning Committee, a position he has held since 2008.   Related to his international efforts, Chris also has served on the board of directors of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs since 2009.  He is currently the Council’s vice chair of governance and is the immediate past vice chair of development.

Chris is a graduate of Cleveland Bridge Builders (“CBB”)’s Flagship Program’s Class of 2004 and has served on its selection committee and as a class representative of the CBB Alumni Association.  He is also a proud member of the Mizzou Alumni Association and is its Cleveland area contact.

Chris previously served as a  member of the board of trustees of the Adoption Network of Cleveland and as  co-chair of the network’s Special Events Committee Fund Development Committee, and as an officer-at-large of the Ohio Young Democrats, earning the organization’s 2003 Distinguished Service Award.

At home

Chris is married and has one daughter.  He lives in Bay Village, Ohio.

  • Lead counsel to one of the top juice processors, manufacturers and co-packers in the United States in:
    • the sale of 100% of its equity to a strategic acquirer, along with a tuck-in acquisition of portion juice and juice concentrate business of a competitor.
    • its strategic acquisition of two significant competitors and the related financing activities for those acquisitions. Completed the buyout of a 25% shareholder of closely held manufacturer of steel drums valued in excess of $25 million.
  • Spinoff of $20 million real estate leasing and development business of and completion of eight related third-party sales of associated assets and real property of on-going family business valued at more than $40 million.
  • Assisted with the formation and funding of a significant supplier of energy-related products in the Caribbean and Central America and subsequent investments in said company.
  • Architect of international corporate structure for publicly funded university. Continue to advise same university on multiple international projects and issues.
  • Divestiture through various third party sales of multimillion dollar sets of operating assets of auto supplier in “wind down” mode;
  • Counsel for 10 stand-alone multifamily apartment building operations majority owned by this client and its affiliates during a series of capital markets-related refinancing transactions. The refinancing transactions – for which the collective borrowings totaled approximately $55 million – were completed through Freddie Mac, with an Ohio real estate capital fund acting as servicer.
  • Completion of diligence and negotiation of the real estate portion of a complex refinancing of the publicly traded debt and private debt of privately held client. Debt totaled more than $300 million. Real estate comprised more than 25 operating properties.
  • Represented significant U.S. lender in the negotiation of its participation in the syndicated credit facility of a logistics provider for aftermarket products, and in the subsequent expansion of that credit facility. The overall facility consisted of a $125 million revolving credit facility and a $129 million term note. Also represented said lender in a significant construction loan facility that permitted the borrower to retrofit a building located on the west side of Cleveland to house a collection of companies
  • Representation of the economic development arms of various governmental entities in more than a dozen research and development–related loan transactions with start-up companies
  • Acted as general outside counsel to publicly traded aerospace company on:
    • balance sheet restructuring involving a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction for $20 million in common stock with a follow-on refinancing of $50 million in senior debt; disposition of four separate business lines valued at more than $300 million.
    • $50 million debt refinancing of public traded company that operates in the aerospace sector.
    • Disposition by publicly traded company of seven of its operating subsidiaries and/or divisions in a two-year time period.
  • Completed the sale of the Mexican division and related debt of a domestic auto supplier to a publicly traded Mexican company.

Credentials

Education

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, J.D., summa cum laude, 1999. Honors and activities: Law Fellows Scholarship; Dean's Scholar Award; executive editor, Cleveland State Law Review; treasurer, Student Bar Association; president, Hispanic Law Students Association

 

University of Missouri-Columbia, M.A., Spanish, 1994

 

University of Missouri-Columbia, B.A., Spanish, 1992; B.J. Journalism, 1992. Honors: Sigma Delta Pi 1994 Scholarship for study in Mexico and "Best Editorial," statewide student newspaper competition. Activities: Managing Editor, The Maneater Newspaper; President, Theta Xi fraternity, Beta Iota Chapter.

Memberships & Affiliations

International Bar Association: vice chair, International Sales Committee (2016- present), membership officer (2014-2016); former chair, Supply Chain and Logistics Subcommittee; member, Corporate and M&A and Banking committees and Latin American Regional Forum.

 

Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association: Member, International Law Section and Business, Banking & Corporate Counsel Section

 

Alliott Group: North American Advisory Committee and Member of the Worldwide Advisory Committee

Bar Admissions

Admitted to the Ohio Bar, 1999

Awards & Distinctions

“Ohio Rising Stars,” Ohio Super Lawyers, 2010