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‘The pharma sector is very busy’: Slaughters, Davis Polk and Skadden win roles on Shire’s $5.2bn acquisition

Slaughter and May was called upon by longstanding pharmaceutical client Shire on its biggest acquisition to date as it purchased biotech NPS Pharma, represented by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, for $5.2bn.

Slaughter and May corporate partner Martin Hattrell, who handled Shire’s collapsed $55bn sale to US pharma giant AbbVie late last year, led on deal to buy the New Jersey-based rare disease drug maker. Shire will acquire all the outstanding shares of NPS Pharma, which manufactures drugs to treat short bowel syndrome and is seeking to register Natapara to treat hypoparathyroidism, for $46 per share in cash.

Hattrell, who is relationship partner for the Dublin-based pharma company, worked alongside finance partner Mark Dwyer on the deal. US legal advice was provided by Davis Polk & Wardell corporate partners Bill Chudd and George Bason, with the New York-based duo also instructed on the collapsed sale to Abbvie.

Shire’s chief executive, Flemming Ornskov, said: ‘The acquisition of NPS Pharma is a significant step in advancing Shire’s strategy to become a leading biotechnology company. We look forward to accelerating the growth of the NPS Pharma portfolio based on our proven track record of maximizing value from acquired assets and commercial execution.’

Skadden M&A partners Eileen Nugent, based in New York, and Boston-based Graham Robinson represented NPS Pharma.

Shire secured a $850m short-term bank facility, which, in addition to Shire’s cash and cash equivalents, and its existing $2.1bn five-year revolving credit facility, will finance the transaction plus fees and expenses. In due course, the company plans to refinance the short-term bank facility through new debt issuances. Commenting on the deal, Hattrell said: ‘Much of the work was financing work, and it was primarily a US deal.’

He added: ‘Shire has been a very active client in the last 12 months. The pharma sector is very busy at the moment and I expect that to continue.’