Cold Remedy: Am Law 100 Firms Load Up on Pharma M&A

, The Am Law Daily

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Bristol-Myers has increasingly turned to Kirkland for high-end corporate work, tapping the firm earlier this year for counsel on the company's $482 million pact with Reckitt Benckiser Group for the rights to a portfolio of Latin American medicines, as well as its $7 billion acquisition last year of San Diego–based Amylin Pharmaceuticals. Kirkland also advised Bristol-Myers on its $2.5 billion buy of Inhibitex in 2011, according to our previous reports.

Former Covington of counsel Togo West Jr. is a member of Bristol-Myers’ board of directors, which until earlier this year included former FBI director Louis Freeh, now chairman of Pepper Hamilton. Sandra Leung is Bristol-Myers’ general counsel.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson corporate partner Philip Richter is serving as counsel to Goldman Sachs, financial adviser to Bristol-Myers on the AstraZeneca deal. The transaction's terms call for AstraZeneca to pay $2.7 billion upfront to Bristol-Myers, with the ultimate value of the deal postential rising to $4.1 billion once certain regulatory and royalty benchmarks are met.

Kirkland's high-flying transactional practice has been busy in recent weeks snagging lead roles on a handful of other pharmaceutical and medical industry deals.

Fox and Wolf, who joined Kirkland in a high-profile lateral move from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in May 2009, advised Israeli medical technology company Given Imaging this month on its $860 million sale to Irish medical devices manufacturer Covidien. The deal will bolster Covidien's gastrointestinal diagnostics business.

Other Kirkland lawyers advising Given Imaging include M&A partner Yi Claire Sheng, tax partner Scott Price, antitrust partner Mark Kovner and associate Daniel Tavakoli. Ido Warshavski serves as Given Imaging’s general counsel. Covidien, whose general counsel is John Masterson, turned to leading Israeli firm Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal for outside counsel on the deal, which is expected to close by March.

Kirkland M&A partners Srinivas Kaushik in New York and Pierre-Luc Arsenault in Hong Kong took the lead earlier this month for private equity firm Bain Capital on its acquisition of a stake in India’s Emcure Pharmaceuticals being sold by private equity rival The Blackstone Group. (Berjis Desai, managing partner of leading Indian firm J. Sagar Associates, is a member of Emcure’s board.)

Crealta Pharmaceuticals, a portfolio company of longtime Chicago-based Kirkland private equity client GTCR, also turned to the firm for counsel on its $120.4 million acquisition of assets from Savient Pharmaceuticals, which filed for bankruptcy in October. (Crealta’s general counsel is former Kirkland partner Edward Donovan.)

Skadden, which has been advising Savient in Chapter 11 proceedings, advised the Lake Forest, Ill.–based company on its sale of assets to Crealta through M&A partner Graham Robinson and corporate restructuring cohead Kenneth Ziman. (Robinson joined Skadden last year from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.)

Other Skadden lawyers advising Savient include restructuring partner David Turetsky and Anthony Clark, employee benefits partner Erica Schohn, banking partner Steven Messina, tax partner Katherine Bristor and associates Ebba Gebisa, Laura Knoll, Jennifer Kamocsay and Raquelle Kaye.

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