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Drinks With The Deal: Simpson’s Chao on Intellectual Appeal of M&A

Published: May 2nd, 2024
Simpson Thacher M&A partner Michael Chao says that exposure to new businesses and legal issues makes the practice appealing to him and helps him be a better lawyer.

“I like learning,” said Michael Chao, an M&A partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York, on the most recent Drinks With The Deal podcast. “In M&A, you learn about a lot of different types of businesses, and you learn about their relationships. Very few deals are the same in M&A. There’s a bit more repetition in other areas of corporate law, whereas in M&A you have very large structural and economic differences.”

Chao has done a number of deals for Blackstone Inc. (BX), worked with Vivint Smart Home Inc. on its $5.2 billion sale to NRG Energy Inc. (NRG) in 2023 and helped advise Avalara Inc. on its $8.4 billion sale to Vista Equity Partners LLC and Mubadala Investment Co. in 2022.

Working with both private equity and strategic clients “makes me a better M&A lawyer for both,” Chao said. “By doing private equity work, you’re about to better advise a public company board.” And, he added, “When working with strategic clients, particularly those that may go years without doing a deal, you have more of that counseling role.”

Chao’s curiosity extends to wine, one of his primary interests outside of work. “Wine is something you can never master.” As in M&A, he said, “You’re always learning new things.”

Check out the podcast with Michael Chao below:

More podcasts from The Deal are available on iTunesSpotify and on

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