Freshfields scoops key role on £7.5bn Gallaher bid

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has scored the lead role advising Japan Tobacco on its £7.5bn bid for British tobacco company Gallaher.

Japan Tobacco today (15 December) agreed to pay £11.40 in cash per share for rival Gallaher, making it the biggest overseas acquisition by a Japanese company.

Gallaher, the producers of Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges, intend to recommend the bid to its shareholders. The deal values the company at £9.75bn including debt.

Slaughter and May is advising Gallaher on UK matters, with corporate finance partner Martin Whelton leading. Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson are advising on US law, with partners Tim Peterson and Robert Mollen leading.

Freshfields has undertaken work for Japan Tobacco before, including competition and commercial litigation cases.

On the Gallaher bid, corporate partner Martin Nelson-Jones is leading the firm’s team which is advising on UK, US and Japanese law. Partners Onno Brouwer and Thomas Janssens assisted on competition issues.

Japan Tobacco, which is half-owned by the Japanese government, is using Merrill Lynch as financial adviser, providing cash reserves and loans from Merrill Lynch to fund the deal.

Dresdner Kleinwort, Greenhill and Goldman Sachs are advising Gallaher on the bid.