Kirkland lands Apax US pharma acquisition

Kirkland & Ellis has scored a coup for key private equity client Apax Partners, closing a US acquisition despite prevailing credit market conditions.

London partner Raymond McKeeve and New York partner Kimberly Taylor represented the private equity house on its acquisition of Alabama-based Qualitest and Vintage Pharmaceuticals. The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but it is understood to be between $850m (£425.61m) and $900m (£450.65m).

Although the transaction was based entirely in the US, Kirkland’s UK office won the instruction on the back of McKeeve’s longstanding relationship with Apax.

“I’ve acted on a number of opportunities for Apax and also advised it while I was at Linklaters,” said McKeeve.

“This is really cementing that relationship. From our point of view it was an excellent deal to get. We’ve looked at a lot for Apax in the US that’s been sourced in London, and that’s a trend we’ll likely see more of.”

McKeeve admitted that the deal was difficult to get away due to the ongoing global credit crunch, which is making debt syndication near impossible.

“The debt did come through, not quite with the numbers we would have wanted, but it was acceptable,” he said. “There was a real appetite on Apax’s side to buy this business.

“The pharma group at Apax is second to none in terms of expertise and that helped, because the banks know that when they’re backing them they’ve got the A-team.”

Acquisition finance for the deal was provided by RBC Capital Markets. General Electric Capital Corporation is acting as the syndication agent for the transaction’s debt.

Qualitest and Vintage, which was founded in 1983, is a distributor and manufacturer of generic drugs. The company turned to Mike Feldman of US firm Seyfarth Shaw for advice on the transaction.