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Before he became a lawyer, Latham & Watkins partner Charles Hoyng was a scientist at Genentech working to develop Activase — an important drug in the treatment of heart attacks and stroke. Through that research, Hoyng got to know the Japanese pharmaceutical funders of his company’s work. And he strengthened those ties while working for the biotech company’s legal group as a law student at University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. The understanding he gained then of how Japanese cross-border deals are structured served the Latham & Watkins partner well last week when he signed off on a deal representing Japanese client Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Takeda, one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies, acquired Syrrx Inc. for $270 million in cash in a deal expected to close by the end of March. Takeda, which already has a distribution operation near Chicago, was primarily interested in opening an American research facility, according to Hoyng and partner Ora Fisher. And the Japanese company was looking to expand its drug lineups as older patents expired. Syrrx fit the bill. The San Diego-based startup uses protein crystallography technology to obtain protein structure information used in the development of new drugs. Syrrx also has two products in early-stage clinical studies for diabetes treatment — an area of focus for Takeda. Hoyng has worked on other Japanese deals for Latham. And the firm had worked for Takeda in the past, as well as for Takeda Research Investment Inc., a U.S. investment arm providing funding to early-stage life science companies. Hoyng, who was in Japan last week attending a life science meeting of U.S. biotech companies and Japanese pharma, says the outright acquisition by the Japanese giant is different from the usual collaborations. Big pharma in Japan, as in Europe and the United States, is in a state of flux, Hoyng said, with a shortage of new products creating intense competition among multinational firms. Also representing Takeda from Latham were partners Karen Silverman, David Boatwright and Joseph Yaffe and associates Scott Milsten, John Wehrli, Amanda Weare, Mona Wang and Joshua Holian. Representing Syrrx were Cooley Godward partners Thomas Coll and Barbara Borden and associates Brandee Fernandez and Ethan Christensen.

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