Fournier and Solvay pick Freshfields and Skadden

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s Paris offices are sharing the spoils as the French pharmaceutical sector continues its consolidation.

Skadden’s Paris co-head Pierre Servan-Schreiber is advising new client Fournier Pharma, one of France’s largest pharmaceutical companies, on its €1.3bn (£900m) acquisition by Belgian pharmaceuticals company Solvay. Servan-Schreiber won the work after a beauty parade.

Solvay instructed long-standing adviser Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer on the deal. Despite a 30-year relationship between the company and firm, it is the first transaction that Freshfields’ Paris office has handled for Solvay.

Before Easter (24 March), the Belgian company announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Fournier’s shareholders, agreeing to acquire the whole company.

Solvay is currently carrying out a detailed review of Fournier and the deal is expected to complete later this year.

The deal was led for Solvay by Freshfields corporate partner Antoine Vignial, with support from other departments in the firm. Antitrust partner Jacques Gunther is also playing a significant role.

Fournier is one of France’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, and the deal marks further consolidation in the sector after last year’s colossal €57bn (£39.31bn) acquisition of Aventis by Sanofi-Synthélabo. Both Freshfields and Skadden had roles on that deal as well, acting for banks involved in the transaction.