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Dealwatch: HSF and Slaughters UK advisers on AbbVie’s $51bn bid for Shire

Herbert Smith Freehills‘ corporate partners James Palmer and Gillian Fairfield have taken the UK lead on US drugmaker AbbVie’s proposed $51bn takeover of Ireland’s Shire Pharmaceuticals, which has selected Magic Circle firm Slaughter and May.

AbbVie upped its bid for Shire, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, from $46bn to $51bn earlier this week after Shire felt the previous offer significantly undervalued its business, which has built up a more diverse rare diseases division in recent years.

HSF has been instructed alongside Sullivan & Cromwell by AbbVie, which was yesterday (9 July) forced to retract comments made by its chief executive Richard Gonzalez on shareholder support for its bid after breaching UK Takeover Panel rules.

Stephen Cooke, who has headed Slaughter and May’s M&A group since 2001 and is well known for lead roles on high-profile M&A, including Cadbury’s takeover by Kraft in 2010, is leading the team advising Shire, alongside corporate partners Martin Hattrell and Adam Eastell.

Slaughter and May has been selected by Shire to work with US advisors Davis Polk & Wardwell, which also advised AstraZeneca along with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer on the £69bn hostile takeover approach made by Pfizer earlier this year.

Davis Polk’s global co-head of M&A George ‘GAR’ Bason, who was instructed on multiple mandates by Citigroup following the fallout from the financial crisis and last year advised China National Offshore Oil Corp on its $15.1bn takeover of Canadian energy producer Nexen in what became the largest foreign takeover by a Chinese entity, leads the US end of Shire’s deal, alongside corporate partners William Chudd and John Meade.