Davis Polk, Latham take lead as Roche sets sights on Genentech

Davis Polk, Latham take lead as Roche sets sights on GenentechTwo US firms have snared lead roles on Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche’s $43.7bn (£21.88bn) bid for US drug giant Genentech.

Davis Polk & Wardwell New York partners Arthur Golden, Chris Mayer and Peter Douglas are advising Roche, which acquired a 55.9 per cent stake in Genentech in 1990.

While Latham & Watkins is yet to formalise its role on the deal, it is thought that global head of corporate Peter Kerman will lead the firm on advice to existing Latham client Genentech.

If accepted, the deal would represent the biggest acquisition in the pharmaceutical industry since ­Pfizer’s $64bn (£32.04bn) acquisition of Pharmacia Corp in 2003.

Roche’s bid for Genentech comes after an acquisitive streak for the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant. Earlier this year (12 May) The Lawyer reported on Roche acquiring cancer treatment company Piramed from Merlin Biosciences and JP Morgan Partners.

Piramed instructed Morrison & Foerster partner Paul Claydon, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer corporate partner Julian Long led the firm advising Roche.

Latham has a longstanding ;relationship ;with Genentech. Last year San Francisco partner Daniel Wall advised the pharmaceuticals giant on a ­dispute with MedImmune over a patented ­component in the respiratory medication Synagis.

Dewey & LeBoeuf partner Harvey Kurzweil advised MedImmune.

Davis Polk also has links to MedImmune, having acted as US counsel for AstraZeneca when it bought MedImmune for $15.6bn (£7.81bn) ;last ;year (TheLawyer.com, 24 April 2007).

Freshfields provided UK counsel to AstraZeneca, while Dewey & LeBoeuf legacy firm Dewey Ballantine advised MedImmune.
Roche, which has just announced a two per cent drop in first-half net profit, said that if approved the Genentech acquisition will result in an annual pre-tax saving of between $750m (£375.46m) and $850m (£425.52m).

Last week (21 July) Genentech announced that a board of independent directors will be established to discuss and determine the bid from Roche.

Davis Polk and Latham declined to comment.