Freshfields cultivates Roche relationship with funding deal

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has scooped its first capital markets deal for Roche as the Swiss drugs company overhauls its funding strategy. The win builds on what was historically an antitrust relationship between Roche and Freshfields' first German merger partner Deringer.

The Roche instruction is a major coup for Freshfields. Allen & Overy is understood to have been among Roche's advisers in the past and has a strong relationship through Belgium.

London-based capital markets partner Jeremy Pitkin is leading the cross-border team acting on Roche's debut European medium-term note (EMTN) programme. Roche, Switzerland's second largest drugs company, wants to cut the 6.2 per cent interest rate it pays on its debt by launching an intermediate dated, benchmark-sized international bond.

Freshfields' appointment came via Berlin managing partner Helmut Bergmann, the firm's principal contact with Roche. The company's legal department in Basel is understood to have approached Bergmann in connection with the deal. He then made the introduction to London.

Bergmann is currently advising Roche on antitrust matters relating to its SFr1.6bn (£745.4m) acquisition of medical device supplier Disetronic, while partner Jochim Sedemund is advising on Roche's sale of its vitamins and fine chemicals division to DSM for $2.09bn (£1.3bn).

Roche's corporate transactions tend to be structured under Swiss law. It is understood to handle most of that work in-house and also instructs Swiss firm Homberger & Partner, which, in this case, will advise on Swiss law in relation to the bond issue.

The Freshfields team also includes Dutch partner Steven Perrick.

Clifford Chance is acting for the banks, ABN-Amro, Credit Suisse First Boston and Schroder Salomon Smith Barney.