Christopher S.W. Blake is chair of Hahn Loeser’s International Practice Group. In his personal practice, he counsels public and private companies on general corporate matters and domestic and international mergers and acquisitions and financing transactions. Chris also regularly acts as outside general counsel to middle market, privately held companies, with particular experience advising such companies in the manufacturing, food and beverage and gaming sectors.
Mergers, Acquisitions, Divestitures and Financing
In the mergers and acquisitions context, Chris has in-depth experience representing both buyers and sellers of corporate divisions, going concern businesses and discreet assets. He has counseled numerous clients in investments and purchase and sale transactions, which clients include several portfolio companies owned by private equity funds. On the financing side, Chris has represented both borrowers and lenders (governmental, institutional and private) in drafting and negotiating complex, multifaceted commercial financing and related loan documentation involving traditional and non-traditional collateral. He has also documented public and private offerings of debt securities. Recent and representative corporate transactions include:
- Spin-off 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 over $40 million.
- Purchase by private company with $100 million in sales of strategic business line of competitor.
- Divestiture through various third party sales of multi-million dollar sets of operating assets of auto supplier in wind down mode.
- Disposition by publicly traded company of seven of its operating subsidiaries and/or divisions in a two-year time period.
- 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.
On the financing side, Chris focuses on commercial lending, including senior and subordinated debt arrangements, and has represented governmental, institutional and private lenders and borrowers in sophisticated transactions involving traditional and non-traditional collateral. Recent representative transactions include:
- Completion of $50 million debt refinancing of public traded company that operates in the aerospace sector.
- Restructuring of one of the top independent juice processors in the United States.
- Representation of the economic development arms of various governmental entities in more than a dozen research and developmentrelated loan transactions with start-up companies.
Private Equity and Securities
Chris is also experienced in public and private offerings of securities. Recent transactions include acting as General Outside Counsel to Breeze-Eastern (formerly TransTechnology Corporation) on a 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 over $300 million.
He has experience with federal and state securities law matters, including periodic reporting, SEC and blue sky law compliance issue and special transactions.
Chris is known as an authority on international transactions, and is regularly consulted on matters involving cross-border matters in North America, Latin America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. Separate and apart from cross-border mergers and acquisitions and financing transactions, Chris is also well-versed in documenting and negotiating international sales, supplier and distribution agreements and counseling clients on export control laws and related foreign asset control regulations.
Chris’s practice also includes a concentration in the gaming industry, with a focus on regulatory compliance, licensing, ownership structures and operations of gaming establishments in eight states. He has assisted with the acquisition, divestiture and financing over more than 25 gaming operations, and has helped the acquiring parties become licensed by the appropriate gaming authorities in each instance. He has also negotiated licenses and compliance matters and worked with suitability investigations with charitable and for-profit gaming regulators in a number of jurisdictions.
Chris also has counseled investors in the motion picture industry and drafted documentation for film arrangements and negotiated screenplay agreements and various other production agreements for domestic motion picture productions. Real Estate Law
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. Recent representative transactions include the negotiation of the lease of more than 40,000 square feet of street-level Class A real estate in downtown Cleveland, including the naming rights of the associated five-story office building, and completion of the documentation involved in the build-out and retrofitting of the leased space. He has extensive experience with surveys, environmental audits and other due diligence related to such properties.
Chris is the vice president of strategic planning for the Cleveland International Film Festival, and has served on the festival’s board of directors since 2005. In addition, Chris is vice chair-development for the Cleveland Council on World Affairs and has served on the council’s board of directors since 2009. Previously, Chris served on the boards of Adoption Network Cleveland and the Ohio Young Democrats and the Cuyahoga County Young Democrats.
Chris is serving his second year as chairman of the Supply Chain and Logistics Subcommittee of the International Bar Association's International Sales Committee.
Chris is listed in the 2010 edition of "Ohio Rising Stars" by Ohio Super Lawyers.