Allen & Overy (A&O) has clawed back its relationship with high street giant and takeover target Alliance-Boots, advising it on the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) investigation into medicine distribution, which was announced on 4 April.
A&O and Slaughter and May have been battling it out to be primary counsel to Alliance-Boots since last September after the £8.1bn merger between A&O client Alliance-Unichem and Slaughters client Boots.
The instruction is a boon to A&O, as Slaughters got the nod from Alliance-Boots in March on a potential £10bn management buyout backed by private equity house Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR). Alliance-Boots has recently opened its books to its deputy chairman Stefano Pessina and KKR (The Lawyer, 30 March).
It is unclear whether the OFT’s inquiry will impact on the deal.
The OFT launched its inquiry after it received 500 complaints about a first of a kind deal between Alliance-Boots and pharmaceutical group Pfizer, which allowed the latter to sell directly to pharmacists using Alliance-Boots’ distribution system.
As reported by The Lawyer (16 October 2006), Latham & Watkins advised Alliance-Boots on the original deal, with Pfizer handling it in-house.