Linklaters nets AstraZeneca role as conflict rules out Freshfields

Linklaters has scooped the lead advisory role on UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca’s £702m offer for Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) after Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was conflicted out of the deal.

AstraZeneca instructed Linklaters instead of regular counsel Freshfields because the latter firm acted for Abbott Laboratories in its dispute last year with CAT over the royalties payable to CAT from the groundbreaking rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira.

Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw (MBR&M) has landed the instruction to advise longstanding client CAT for the takeover, even though it is a regular adviser to AstraZeneca.

MBR&M established its relationship with CAT in 2003 after nudging aside former corporate adviser CMS Cameron McKenna to act for the company on its ultimately unsuccessful £110m bid for Oxford GlycoSciences (OGS). That deal collapsed after Celtic Pharma moved in.

Linklaters corporate partner Mark Stamp is leading the team advising AstraZeneca alongside the company’s in-house lawyers Liam McIlveen and Shaun Grady, who managed the project.

London senior partner Paul Maher led the MBR&R team alongside dual-qualified securities partner Mark Uhrynuk.

Senior assistant Kate Ball-Dodd also advised on the transaction.

The boards of AstraZeneca and CAT announced last week that they had agreed the terms of the deal, with a recommended cash offer valued at 1,320p, subject to regulatory approval.

AstraZeneca, which is being advised by Goldman Sachs, already works closely with CAT after the two companies embarked on a strategic development alliance in November 2004.

All the firms involved in the deal were contacted by The Lawyer but declined to comment.