A trainee's role in GlaxoSmithKline's transaction with Novartis

Nikhil Shah on his role in one of our largest and most complex transactions of 2014: advising GlaxoSmithKline on a major three-part interconditional Vaccines, Oncology and Consumer Healthcare transaction with Novartis.

What kind of work were you doing?

"I was exposed to a wide variety of high – quality and challenging work, including:

  • assisting with the drafting of the key transaction documentation, including portions of the joint venture and implementation agreements
  • conducting the disclosure and due diligence exercise and producing a final disclosure letter
  • participating in numerous calls and meetings with the client and the other side, including negotiating the contents of the specific disclosures
  • assisting with drafting GSK's regulatory announcement, launched upon the execution of the deal."

Were any other departments involved?

"This deal was one of the biggest and most complex transactions of the year, and one of the reasons for that complexity was its multi-faceted nature. Aside from the usual corporate and finance elements in any M&A deal, there was a significant Intellectual Property element, as well as challenging tax and pensions aspects, which involved those departments (along with our real estate department)."

What sort of hours did you work?

"The hours really varied. Towards the beginning, they were relatively normal. As the deal went on, and as time became more pressured, the hours naturally increased, as did the workload. However, one of the key advantages of working on such a complex and intense deal was that the end was always in sight, and the days always flew by!"

What was it like working for such a well-known name?

"Many of our clients are household names. However, working for GSK on such an important deal for the company and the pharmaceuticals industry was an absolute privilege. There was an incredible amount of media coverage once the deal was announced."

Did the prominent nature of the deal make you feel particularly pressured into getting everything right?

"Of course we try to get everything right all the time! But working towards such a tight deadline and with such a wide range of colleagues – both here and at the firms representing the other side – added an extra layer of pressure, which I think we coped with really well."

How did you feel when the deal completed?

"My initial feeling was one of tiredness, with the deal having finally been signed at 6am. However, after a good sleep, it was replaced with two feelings: relief at not having to stay up until 6am again and pride at having helped to get such a complex deal over the line. This was further enhanced when, having dragged myself out of bed, I opened the FT and saw our deal inside the front page!"

Were there any particular personal highlights for you?

"My personal highlight, notwithstanding the extremely interesting and challenging nature of the work done, was going to the closing drinks. I stood on the roof terrace of a nice hotel, champagne in hand, and looked back on the previous few weeks reflecting on what we had achieved in such a short time and the sense of camaraderie we had developed really put the work done into perspective".