When you think tax inversions, think charming bed and breakfasts, vineyard picnics, freshly churned butter, photo ops in front of sheep pastures, and exchanges of e-mail addresses and promises to stay in touch among fast friends.
In 2010, a group of lawyers from New York and London took a bike trip through the rolling countryside of Southern France, and helped set the wheels in motion on the hottest new trend in mergers and acquisitions. Part holiday, part corporate offsite, the peloton brought together top tax and M&A lawyers from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Deal making was in the doldrums, but, in tandem, some of the lawyers figured out a plan that could persuade clients to take the brakes off M&A. Four years later, so-called "tax inversions" have been a major driver in cross-border deal making, accounting for 66% of announced deals this year, according to Thomson Reuters. That is up from just 1% in 2011. Skadden is at the front of the pack, involved in a whopping 78% of inversions by deal value since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.