AstraZeneca chooses Freshfields for $15bn deal

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has reinstated itself as AstraZeneca’s main UK firm for big M&A deals, scooping a key role on the company’s $15.6bn (£7.8bn) purchase of MedImmune.

Freshfields held off a chasing pack of City heavyweights, including Herbert Smith and Linklaters, which all have links to AstraZeneca.

Last year Freshfields missed out on AstraZeneca’s £702m purchase of Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) due to client conflicts. Linklaters corporate partner Mark Stamp picked up that mandate in Freshfields’ absence.

There is intense competition for AstraZeneca’s corporate work as the company embarks on an acquisitive strategy to beef up its drug pipeline.

The Lawyer reported in February that AstraZeneca was in the process of hiring more M&A and licensing lawyers to cope with a rising level of corporate transactions.

As part of the deal AstraZeneca will pick up MedImmune’s leading drugs FluMist, a nasal spray flu vaccine, and Synagis, a medicine treating lung disease.

Davis Polk & Wardwell was US counsel to AstraZeneca, with Dewey Ballantine acting on the other side for biotechnology company MedImmune.

MedImmune opted for Dewey after IP partner Harvey Kurzweil won a key patent case for the company in the Supreme Court against Genentech.

Dewey corporate partners Frederick Kanner and Chang-Do Gong advised MedImmune on the deal with AstraZeneca.

Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw is advising AstraZeneca on the antitrust aspects of the deal, led by EU and competition partner Frances Murphy.

Latham & Watkins represented Merrill Lynch, which is acting as financial adviser to AstraZeneca