January 22, 2018
Weil was recently profiled by Law360 as a 2017 nationwide Competition “Practice Group of the Year” for obtaining merger clearance for more than 20 transactions with a total value of around $70 billion last year—while also advising on high-stakes antitrust litigation for a number of clients.
The profile highlights Weil’s role advising clients on several multi-billion dollar merger transactions in 2017, including Walgreens Boots Alliance in its acquisition of almost 2,000 Rite Aid stores; Sanofi on the $25 billion exchange of its animal health business Merial with the consumer healthcare business of Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH; The Sherwin-Williams Company in its $11.3 billion acquisition of Valspar; and G&K Services in its $2.2 billion merger with Cintas. Weil also advised Allergan in 10 transactions in 2017 alone.
As noted in the profile, Weil obtained FTC approval for Walgreens Boots Alliance’s acquisition of almost 2,000 Rite Aid stores following a two-year review. The original deal was to acquire all of Rite Aid for slightly more than $17 billion. After some creative deal-making and an incredible amount of advocacy, the FTC approved a deal that permitted Walgreens to acquire 1932 stores (about 43%) for $4.377 billion. “It became very clear at the very beginning that the FTC was generally opposed to any transaction between Walgreens and Rite Aid,” said Steven Newborn, Co-Head of Weil’s global Antitrust/Competition practice. “I think the client considered it an incredible coup that we got essentially 1,900 stores from Rite Aid when no one ever thought that was going to be the case.”
Mr. Newborn also emphasized that Weil’s merger clearance success is especially impressive given the group often works on deals that have already hit a hitch. “We’re often hired when other law firms have run into trouble with a merger that’s already at the FTC or the DOJ,” he told Law360. “The client then brings us in, either with the other firm, or instead of the other firm. The fact that we’re getting these deals through, even when they have already run into regulatory roadblocks, is pretty amazing.”
“There really isn’t a situation we haven’t seen before, or an issue that we have not anticipated, and that just comes from the volume of work we handle,” echoed Jeff Perry, a partner in Weil’s Washington D.C. office who focuses on antitrust investigations and litigation. “We do mergers of every shape and size.”
The profile also highlights Weil’s role advising on significant antitrust litigation in 2017, including defending Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Michael Foods Inc. in sprawling multidistrict antitrust litigation over chicken and egg prices, respectively. Weil is also representing Sanofi in an antitrust suit alleging EpiPen maker Mylan improperly preserved its monopoly on epinephrine auto-injectors.
Mr. Perry noted Weil’s past merger work for Sanofi and said that other transactional clients, including Allergan and Walgreens, have also turned to the Firm for antitrust litigation. “Merger reviews are marathons, but one upside is the ability to develop really deep relationships at the highest levels of the companies,” he said. “And when a bet-the-company merger client faces a bet-the-company litigation, we’re happy, and proud, to help them there as well.”