University of Michigan Law School
Ann Arbor, Michigan
J.D., magna cum laude, 1999
Order of the Coif
Grand Rapids, Michigan
B.A., Political Science, 1996
All Michigan state courts
Pete’s experience is in business and transactional work, with a heavy focus on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), private equity, venture capital, family office and joint venture transactions. He also provides counseling with respect to day-to-day business issues of all types, including commercial transactions, contract negotiation, corporate structuring and succession planning.
Additionally, Pete has significant experience in laws unique to automotive suppliers, automotive dealerships, cooperatives including the Capper-Volstead Act, and 1031 exchange transactions.
Chambers USA, which ranks lawyers and law firms, notes that Pete “is adept at handling private equity and venture capital transactions. One client depicts him as an ‘expert in acquisitions, divestitures and contracts. His involvement in all aspects was invaluable, and he secured us an excellent result.’”
Mergers and Acquisitions
Pete has represented and advised clients (buy-side and sell-side) in negotiating, structuring and documenting hundreds of M&A transactions. These deals have been of all types and sizes, involving billions of dollars both nationally and internationally. Representative transactions include:
Represented privately-owned Zeigler Automotive Group in acquisition of three Chicago-area luxury car dealerships, estimated to add 5,000 new units and $350 million in annual sales.
Represented privately-held elevator services provider based in West Michigan in its sale to Connecticut-based private equity fund. Varnum provided M&A, corporate, tax, real estate and employee benefits services.
Represented TransNav, a privately-held plastic injection molding company in its sale to Groupe Plastivaloire, a family-controlled and publicly-traded auto components molder headquartered in France. Negotiated the purchase and sale agreement and all other legal documents and represented TransNav in connection with antitrust filings.
Represented Contractors Steel Company, a leading carbon steel service center, in its sale to a private equity fund. Negotiated the purchase agreement and provided counsel regarding the transaction structure, employee benefits, tax matters and antitrust filings under the Hart Scott Rodino Act.
Represented Fabco Holdings, Inc. in sale of product portfolio and related technologies to Meritor. Negotiated transaction documents and advised on employee benefit, union, intellectual property and financing-related matters.
Represented Granger Energy Services division’s sale of 16 landfill gas-to-energy sites across six states to an Australian company. Negotiated sale agreement, coordinated antitrust filings, and advised on tax, employee benefits and energy regulatory matters.
Represented private equity firm Blackford Capital in acquisition of Kingsport Book. Negotiated purchase agreement, advised on structure of transaction and facilitated closing.
Represented a Michigan entrepreneur in the purchase of Schuil Coffee Company. Negotiated purchase agreement, facilitated due diligence, environmental counseling, and patent and trademark filings associated with purchase.
Represented Entente Spirits (Round Barn Winery, Free Run Cellars and Round Barn Public House) in acquisition of Tabor Hill Winery, including 25 acres of vineyards, a restaurant and three retail locations. Drafted purchase agreement and coordinated filings with Liquor Control Commission.
Private Equity, Venture Capital and Family Offices
Regular representation of private equity funds, venture capital funds and family offices, handling all aspects of numerous transactions for clients. Services include structuring, negotiating and implementing the M&A and financing components of transactions, fund formation and capital raise issues, post-transaction governance and ultimate exit from investments.
Extensive work with automotive suppliers, including both Tier 1 suppliers and suppliers further down the supply chain. This representation has involved all types of matters, including disputes with OEMs as well as other suppliers; M&A and joint venture transactions; contract negotiation; terms and conditions analysis; price increase ‘hostage’ situations; and securing supply in bankruptcy and distressed situations.
Other Areas of Focus
Significant experience with complex joint ventures, representation of automotive dealerships, cooperative law and 1031 exchange transactions.
Honors and Recognitions
ACG Detroit, M&A All Star Advisor of the Year, 2023
Best Lawyers in America® since 2015
Chambers USA©: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business
Grand Rapids Magazine’s Top Lawyers: Corporate Law; Mergers & Acquisitions Law; since 2019
Michigan Super Lawyers® since 2021
Michigan Super Lawyers®, Rising Star, 2011 – 2014
Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Western Michigan, board
Grand Rapids Bar Association
Mid America Cooperative Council, Inc.
State Bar of Michigan: Business Law Section; Taxation Section
Panelist, M&A Roundtable Discussion: Due Diligence Goes Deeper, Draws Out Deals as Cost of Capital Increases, MiBiz, February 26, 2023
Panelist, M&A Roundtable Discussion: Inflation, Interest Rates, Global Conflict Complicate M&A Outlook, MiBiz, March 28, 2022
Panelist, Strategic Discussion with M&A and Private Equity Advisors, MiBiz, Jan. 7, 2019
Presenter, Legal Issues for Agricultural Cooperatives, Michigan Executive Cooperative Conference, January 27, 2014
Panelist, M&A Roundtable, Birmingham, MI, October 2, 2013
Panelist, Real Estate and Family Owned Businesses, West Michigan Family Business Alliance, August 7, 2013
Panelist, M&A Roundtable, Grand Rapids, MI, May 16, 2013
Panelist, Transitions in Family Owned Business, West Michigan Family Business Alliance, May 14, 2013
Presenter, Michigan Executive Cooperative Conference, West Michigan Family Business Alliance, January 29-30, 2013
Panelist, M&A Roundtable, Birmingham, MI, November 29, 2012