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Antitrust and competition

The world's preeminent antitrust lawyers.

Antitrust laws around the world are evolving rapidly. Authorities are increasingly using a wide range of powers to investigate mergers, markets, cartels, and other anticompetitive behavior.

As more regimes become established, and as investigative powers and penalties become more severe, the risk of falling foul of these complex laws has never been more acute. Our antitrust practice offers unrivaled knowledge and experience in national and international competition law matters all over the world. 

With more than 50 partners and 300 lawyers in Asia, Europe, The Middle East and the United States, we are leaders in all aspects of competition law, including mergers, cartel investigations, abuse of dominance, state aid, follow-on claims and stand-alone litigation. Freshfields has worked on the leading cases in all these areas.

Client successes

We advised Cargill on the antitrust aspects of the $4.53 billion take-private transaction of Sanderson Farms and the concurrent combination of Sanderson Farms with Wayne Farms under a joint venture owned by Cargill and Continental Grain Company.

We advised Evonik on its landmark win (2020) against the US Federal Trade Commission, which had sued to block Evonik’s acquisition of PeroxyChem, a competing hydrogen peroxide producer. This was the first time the FTC had been defeated in a merger challenge since 2015. Read our press release and listen to our podcast summarizing the case

We advised AstraZeneca on the global antitrust and foreign investment strategy for its $39bn acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, one of the first transactions to be reviewed in parallel by each of the US, EU and UK authorities following Brexit.

Through this transformational acquisition AstraZeneca has acquired Alexion’s innovative complement pathway technology platform and new product pipeline, enhancing its ability to treat patients with rare diseases worldwide. This significant, cross-border transaction was scrutinised by competition authorities around the world as well as foreign investment screening in a number of European countries. Our global strategy achieved swift unconditional clearance across jurisdictions.

We advised the London Stock Exchange Group on the global coordination, regulatory engagement and substantive strategy for its $27bn transformational acquisition of Refinitiv, one of the leading global providers of financial markets data and trading venues.

The complex and high-profile cross-border transaction involved reviews by 21 merger control authorities as well as foreign investment screening in the United States, Australia and a number of European countries. The deal was subject to a Second Request in the United States, but the Department of Justice ultimately closed its investigation and issued a rare public statement explaining why it had concluded the merger did not raise any competitive concerns.

The deal also prompted an in-depth Phase II review by the European Commission and the negotiation of a €4.3bn structural remedy and innovative behavioral remedies to secure clearance.

We advised Maersk Line on the global coordination of merger control issues relating to its acquisition of Hamburg Süd. Combining the largest and the seventh largest container liner shipping companies in the world, the deal triggered merger filings in jurisdictions around the globe, including the EU (Phase I remedies), the United States, China, Brazil, and Australia. In April 2018, the deal was named “Merger Control Matter of the Year (Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa)” by Global Competition Review in its annual legal awards.

We advised a major financial institution on its successful defense of two European Commission investigations and a US Department of Justice investigation into alleged infringements in the credit default swaps market.

We advised United Airlines on its international airline alliances and joint ventures, including ongoing advice related to enhancing alliance relationships.

We advised Cengage, a leading publisher of higher education course materials, on numerous class actions challenging Inclusive Access programs.

We advised Johnson & Johnson on its $6.5bn acquisition of Momenta Pharmaceuticals in one of the largest pharmaceutical-industry mergers of 2020.

We advised BioNTech, a next generation immunotherapy company focused on the development of precise immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases, on various research and development collaboration agreements, including a 2020 collaboration with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.