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Cravath and Kirkland ride pharma wave to win places on $5.8bn Abbott-Alere deal

Already two of the big winners from the merger bonanza in the pharmaceuticals sector, Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Kirkland & Ellis have won mandates advising on the $5.8bn purchase of diagnostic testing company Alere by Abbott Laboratories.

Illinois-based Abbott, which made $20.4bn in sales in 2015, agreed a deal to pay $56 per common share for Alere as it bulks up its diagnostics business. This is a 51% premium on Alere’s share price on Friday.

Cravath fielded New York M&A partners Scott Barshay and Keith Hallam for Alere, whose disease and flu testing equipment is used in doctors’ offices, clinics and at home. Barshay is one of the Wall Street stalwart’s biggest deal doers, having also billed his time on drinks giant Anheuser Busch InBev’s $107bn proposed acquisition of Peroni-making rival SABMiller, and Heinz’s $60bn merger with chocolate conglomerate Kraft to form Kraft Heinz.

Kirkland’s New York-based corporate partners Daniel Wolf and David Feirstein were selected by Abbott to advise on the deal. The instruction is the latest in a string of pharma deals executed by Wolf, who was picked by Baxalta, a maker of haemophilia and leukemia drugs, to handle its $32bn sale to Ireland’s Shire. He also counts Bristol-Myers Squibb and Teva Pharmaceutical as clients.

The total value of global pharma M&A in the first three quarters of 2015 rose 46% to $251.5bn according to a recent report from analysts at MergerMarket. This was largely driven by US companies investing in European rivals or companies targeting rare diseases.