Linklaters, Davis Polk and Kirkland lead on RB $16bn Mead purchase

Davis Polk & Wardwell has teamed up with Linklaters on Reckitt Benckiser’s (RB) $16.6bn bid for Kirkland & Ellis client Mead Johnson.

Kirkland & Ellis represented target Mead Johnson on both sides of the Atlantic, with a team led by New York partners Jonathan Davis, Daniel Wolf and Willard Boothby. Partner David Holdsworth led the team from London.

They were supported by US corporate David Fox, as well as executive compensation partner Scott Price, tax partner Dean Shulman and capital markets partner Tim Cruickshank.

Debt financing was handled by Daniel Borg and Neel Sachdev, with antitrust advice handled by partners Ian John and Paula Reidel.

Davis Polk & Wardwell meanwhile led for RB in the US, turning to Linklaters for UK-based advice.

Davis Polk partners John Amorosi and Harold Birnbaum are understood to have led in New York, with Linklaters City partner William Buckley taking the lead on UK corporate matters.

Under the terms of the agreement, baby food maker Mead Johnson will become a new division of FTSE 100 giant RB. The deal will close in the third quarter of this year.

Background to the deal 

Many believed Slaughter and May would win the mandate for longstanding client RB, having acted for the company on the demerger of its pharmaceuticals business in 2014 with Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison.

However, it is in fact Slaughters’ former US ally that has taken the mandate in the US, with Davis Polk seeking out Linklaters for UK advice. Linklaters’ role does not come as a complete shock, as corporate partner Sarah Wiggins filled in as RB’s interim legal head last year. Her appointment followed the departure of Claire Debney, who has now been replaced formally by BP general counsel Rupert Bondy.

Kirkland is a longstanding adviser to Mead Johnson in the US, but this is the first time the firm’s London office has acted for the company.

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