Slaughters beats A&O to Alliance-Boots as KKR makes overtures

Two mega-deals in the pharmaceuticals sector have cemented Allen & Overy (A&O), Clifford Chance, Lovells and Slaughter and May‘s relationships with key clients.

Slaughters won its first major instruction from Alliance-Boots since the 2005 merger, advising on US private equity house Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ (KKR) £9.7bn friendly approach.

The firm has been vying with Alliance-Unichem’s historic counsel A&O over which firm would become the company’s primary corporate counsel following the merger of Boots and Alliance-Unichem. Corporate partners Frances Murphy and Robert Stern are leading at Slaughters. KKR turned to Clifford Chance for the second time in as many months, underscoring its position as the private equity house’s firm of choice for major UK-based deals. KKR is backing Alliance-Boots deputy chairman Stefano Pessina in the bid for his company.

Macfarlanes is advising Pessina, together with French firm Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier.

A&O mitigated its loss to Slaughters on the Alliance-Boots deal by scoring an instruction as co-counsel, alongside longstanding adviser Lovells, to pharmaceuticals giant Schering-Plough in its £7.5bn purchase of Akzo Nobel’s drugs division.

It is A&O’s second major Netherlands-based deal since January. The firm represented Dutch utilities company Nuon on its £16bn takeover of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer client Essent.

Lovells is one of Schering-Plough’s core firms. The company instructed Manhattan M&A stalwart Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz on US aspects.

Akzo Nobel also turned to panel firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek and to New York corporate behemoth Sullivan & Cromwell.