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Agios Adds Former Celgene Legal Chief After BMS Deal

Nov. 25, 2019, 10:53 PM

Former Celgene Corp. general counsel Jonathan Biller has found a new home as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. wraps up its acquisition of his ex-employer.

Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced Nov. 25 its hire of Biller as chief legal officer.

Biller’s hire comes a little more than a week after the Federal Trade Commission approved Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $74 billion acquisition of Celgene. The blockbuster deal, announced on Jan. 3 of this year, kicked off a frenzy of pharmaceutical industry mega-mergers and makes Bristol-Myers one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cancer drugs and treatments.

Summit, N.J.-based Celgene promoted Biller to its general counsel role in June 2018 after the departure of predecessor Gerald Masoudi, who left to become chief legal officer at San Francisco-based electronic cigarette maker JUUL Labs Inc.

Biller was hired by Celgene in December 2011 to serve as a senior vice president of the company’s tax and treasury department, where he advised on capital allocations and corporate tax reforms.

Biller had spent the previous three-and-a-half years as general counsel, chief tax officer, and corporate secretary at White Plains, New York-based agricultural giant Bunge Ltd. Prior to that, the Yale Law School graduate was chief tax officer for Alcon Inc., a medical device company, and a partner at Foley & Lardner, which he joined through its merger in late 2000 with Chicago-based law firm Hopkins & Sutter.

Biller, who began his career at Hopkins & Sutter and made partner at the now-defunct firm, did not return a request for comment about his decision to join Agios. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company, which raised $106 million through an initial public offering in June 2013, specializes in metabolic treatments for certain forms of cancer and rare genetic diseases.

In a statement announcing his hire, Biller praised Agios for its “pursuit of great science that will benefit patients.”

The company’s last full-time general counsel, Min Wang, left in November 2018 to become chief operating officer at Cambridge-based BlueRock Therapeutics LP, a privately held biotechnology company acquired for $600 million in August by drug giant Bayer AG. She was replaced on an interim basis at Agios by chief compliance officer James Burns, a former Goodwin Procter associate.

At Agios, Biller will oversee a law department that has close ties to Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, which securities filings show made $1.3 million in legal fees and expenses from Agios’ IPO six years ago. Former Wilmer associates William Cook and Sam Wakefield are in-house corporate counsel at the company, which has also turned to the law firm for litigation work, according to Bloomberg Law data.

In October, Agios hired a new vice president and international head of legal and compliance in Marc Bauer, who will be based in Zug, Switzerland. Bauer most recently served in the same role at Tesaro Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based cancer drug developer that also has operations in Switzerland.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at