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Baker Botts Partner Joins Covid-19 Testing Client as Legal Chief

Feb. 10, 2021, 10:30 AM

Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. has hired Jordan Herman as its first general counsel, a company spokeswoman confirmed, after he spent more than 22 years at Baker Botts.

The hire of Herman, most recently a corporate partner at the law firm, marks the latest in-house legal appointment by a company seeing an uptick in business while grappling with challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oxford Nanopore has developed a rapid test for the novel coronavirus and received a $51 million investment in October from Abu Dhabi’s International Holdings Co. The company is currently supporting customers sequencing the Covid-19 virus to understand its variants in more than 50 countries.

The Baker Botts website shows that Herman’s former firm handled patent and non-patent life sciences and technology work for the Oxford, England-based company, which specializes in nanopore DNA sequencing technology.

Baker Botts also worked with other firms in representing Oxford Nanopore last year in defeating a patent challenge to the company’s virus detection and DNA sequencing technology by Pacific Biosciences of California Inc.

Herman, who is based in Austin, Texas, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

He’ll work with U.K.-based legal director and company secretary Hannah Coote, who was hired by Oxford Nanopore in December. Coote previously served as legal counsel for London-based IP Group PLC and company secretary for its portfolio company Mirriad Advertising PLC.

The hire of both lawyers comes as Oxford Nanopore reportedly pursues a potential initial public offering—it has said a public listing is only one of its development options—on the heels of broader commercial and corporate growth.

Oxford Nanopore, founded in 2005, claims its sequencing technology is used by scientists in more than 100 countries to understand biological issues ranging from human genomics to plants and pathogens. Biopharmaceutical giant Amgen Inc. paid $66 million in 2018 for a stake in Oxford Nanopore.

The DNA sequencing market could be worth $11.2 billion by 2027, according to a recent research report.

An AMRI Addition

Albany Molecular Research Inc., a contract research organization working with AstraZeneca PLC on the delivery of the drug developer’s Covid-19 vaccine, announced Monday its hire of veteran pharmaceutical industry lawyer Scott Waldman as head of corporate development.

Waldman, who didn’t respond to a request for comment about his new job at AMRI, most recently ran his own Chatham, N.J.-based life sciences industry consulting firm. He started it last year after leaving Swiss biotechnology company Lonza Group AG, where Waldman was chief strategy officer and head of mergers and acquisitions.

“It is an exciting time to join the AMRI organization,” Waldman said in a statement. “This industry has underscored its impact on global health during the pandemic, demonstrating high-quality delivery and operational flexibility as it pivoted to support customers with responses to Covid-19.”

At AMRI, Waldman joins an executive team that includes general counsel Stacie Phillips, who was hired by the Albany, N.Y.-based company in 2018 from Baxter International Inc. following the departure of former legal chief Paul Feuerman.

Feuerman, now in-house at newly formed drug giant Viatris Inc., was brought on by AMRI in 2017 ahead of the departure of its former general counsel and head of business development Lori Henderson, who subsequently became legal chief for Covid-19 vaccine developer Moderna Inc.

AMRI spokeswoman Susan Zaranek said that while Waldman won’t serve in a legal capacity, he will work closely with the company’s lawyers, led by Phillips. “His focus will be on building the pipeline of acquisition candidates and closing deals that best fit AMRI’s strategy and financial profile,” Zaranek said.

AMRI announced last month that a facility it operates in Albuquerque, N.M., will be used by the U.S. government to further production of Covid-19 vaccines.

PPD’s Shift Change

PPD Inc., a Wilmington, N.C.-based pharmaceutical research company that has a partnership with Moderna in battling Covid-19, promoted deputy general counsel Julia James to its top legal role Feb. 1.

The move, disclosed in a Dec. 7 securities filing, saw James take over from general counsel B. Judd Hartman, who remains with PPD as its chief administrative officer. Hartman now oversees human resources, corporate communications, and quality and enterprise learning at the company, where he’s worked since 2001.

James, who is based in Cambridge, England, joined PPD in 2005 after spending more than eight years as an associate at Clifford Chance in London and Dubai. She and Hartman both worked on an IPO by PPD that raised more than $1.6 billion a year ago this month and yielded $3.5 million in legal fees and expenses for the company’s securities lawyers at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Latham & Watkins advised underwriters on the listing. Hartman received nearly $1.3 million in total compensation from PPD in 2019. He currently owns almost $2.3 million in PPD stock, according to Bloomberg data.

Other New Recruits

  • Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc., an RNAi therapeutics company working on potential treatments for Covid-19, announced Dec. 21 its addition of Agnieszka “Aggie” Gallagher as chief ethics and compliance officer. Gallagher spent the past three years as general counsel and compliance chief for ViiV Healthcare Ltd., a pharmaceutical company owned by GlaxoSmithKline PLC.
  • Sarepta Therapeutics Inc., a drug development and medical research company focused on Covid-19 and other diseases, disclosed Dec. 14 the retirement of general counsel David “Ty” Howton Jr., who will continue to serve as a consultant through the first quarter of this year. Howton has been replaced on an interim basis by former Sarepta chief compliance counsel and officer Ryan Brown.
  • Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute, a nonprofit biotechnology enterprise involved in the fight against Covid-19, announced Dec. 4 its promotion of newly hired director of legal affairs Candice Decaire to general counsel. Decaire, a former partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, joined the IDRI last summer from her own legal consulting firm. She succeeds the IDRI’s former legal chief, Mary Thomson, who tax filings show earned $181,500 in 2018. The IDRI also paid $233,770 to pharma-focused IP boutique McNeill Baur that same year.
  • West Pharmaceutical Services Inc., an injectable drug packaging and delivery systems manufacturer that’s investing $35 million in facilities to help battle Covid-19, said Nov. 9 it hired general counsel Kimberly Banks MacKay. She succeeds West legal chief George Miller, who will retire at month’s end after five years of service. MacKay joined West from human resources company Segal Group Inc., which replaced her by promoting deputy general counsel Steven Greenspan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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