Robert Jenrick and Michal Berkner

The Tories’ by-election candidate could stand to benefit from the hostile takeover of AstraZeneca — with his hot shot lawyer wife a mergers and acquisitions specialist working for the firm retained by Pfizer to advise on the deal.

Lawyer-turned-antiques-dealer Robert Jenrick met his wife while they both worked for Skadden, described by Forbes as “Wall Street’s most powerful law firm”.

With claims that the British pharmaceutical company is set to be broken up if the deal goes ahead, his wife Michal Berkner told Legalweek that she was inspired to her career after reading a book about a takeover viewed as the exemplar of greed in 1980s corporate America:

“I read Barbarians At The Gate – charting the takeover of RJR Nabisco – in 1988 while at law school, and the biography Skadden: Power, Money and the Rise of a Legal Empire and became convinced I wanted to be an M&A lawyer at Skadden in New York.”

Berkner is ideally placed to work on the prospective sale — worth tens of billions of pounds — having previously handled the acquisition of AstraZeneca’s dental device line by a US company.

Her role with Skadden is by no means the only political connection to the controversial takeover, with former Gordon Brown aide and Labour donor Shriti Vadera sitting on AstraZenca’s board.

Even if she isn’t on the deal team, Berkner would likely get a bump from the biggest takeover in UK corporate history when Skadden’s equity partner profits are calculated at the end of the year.


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