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Covington and CMS lead on AstraZeneca’s £1.2bn Spanish transaction

A London team at Covington & Burling led by corporate partner Lucinda Osborne advised AstraZeneca on a potential $2.1bn deal to purchase Spanish healthcare group Almirall’s respiratory unit in a move that sees the company add to its pipeline of asthma products. 

Osborne, who last year advised AstraZeneca on its acquisition of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s diabetes assets in a $2.7bn deal that could rise by a further $1.4bn, worked alongside London corporate partner Gregor Frizzell, the firm’s chair of international employment Christopher Walter and Brussels-based competition partner Miranda Cole. London-based special counsel James Ryan played a support role.

CMS Cameron McKenna London-based life sciences partner Sarah Hanson acted for Almirall, along with Hamburg-based CMS Hasche Sigle corporate partner Jacob Siebert.

AstraZeneca, which earlier this year rejected a takeover attempt by US pharma giant Pfizer that valued the company at £69bn, will pay an initial $875m, which could rise by $1.22bn in development, launch and sales-related milestones.

The deal sees Almirall’s subsidiary for devices in development for diseases linked to smoking and air pollution transferred to the UK firm, which will also have the right to market its newly launched inhaler for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease sufferers, Eklira.

Almirall’s pipeline of novel respiratory assets and its device capabilities further strengthen AstraZeneca’s respiratory portfolio, which includes asthma attack preventers Symbicort and Pulmicort.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said: ‘Our agreement with Almirall brings strategic and long-term value to AstraZeneca’s strong respiratory franchise, one of our key growth platforms. We will benefit from immediate and growing product revenues which we anticipate will be rapidly accretive to earnings.’

Jorge Gallardo, president of Almirall, added: ‘This important agreement allows us to better develop our assets and expertise in respiratory with AstraZeneca, an experienced player in this therapeutic area. It also allows us to better balance the costs, risks and returns of the respiratory business while retaining an important economic interest in its future success.’

The transaction is subject to competition law clearances and is expected to complete by the end of 2014.