Graham Defries


Graham Defries


London | 160 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4QQ
+44 20 7184 7661 | +44 20 7184 7001

| vCard | PDF

Graham Defries advises clients from a range of industry sectors on private equity investments/exits, M&A, corporate finance and collaboration/licensing transactions. He has a particular interest in transactions in healthcare and life sciences, the telecoms, media and technology and insurance sectors.

Mr. Defries is ranked for life sciences in the 2018 edition of Chambers UK, where clients say he is "outstanding" and "helps keep the focus on the relevant details." He is described as "very pragmatic, business savvy and detail oriented" in Chambers UK, 2017. Mr. Defries is recommended for M&A and noted for pharmaceuticals and biotechnology and private equity work in The Legal 500 UK, 2016 and is acknowledged as a "consummate legal adviser" who "protects your interests with panache." He is recommended for life sciences in Chambers UK, 2016 and 2015, with a client describing him as "practical, decisive and not one to flap." He is also praised for "his co-ordination of a deal" and that he and his team "did an excellent job in aligning all the parties." In The Legal 500 UK, 2015, he is cited as "brilliant", a "strong negotiator" and "gets the deal done" with respect to M&A and private equity work and is mentioned for his work in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. He is also recognised in Chambers UK, 2014 and The Legal 500 UK, 2014 and 2013. In Chambers UK, 2013, Mr. Defries is described as “an M&A lawyer first and foremost” who has “a great deal of experience within the life sciences industry and a strong focus on licensing agreements and collaborations.” Chambers UK, 2012 praised him as “a highly skilled cross-border M&A lawyer with an increasingly active profile in the life sciences sector. Clients say he is smart, business-savvy and a top negotiator.” He has also been mentioned in The Legal 500 EMEA for telecommunications work and in The Legal 500 UK, 2011.

Mr. Defries is on the London Advisory Board of Maggie’s Centres, a UK charity which builds and runs centres which offers psychological and emotional support, as well as practical advice, to cancer sufferers.


Significant Representations

  • Prexton Therapeutics B.V. and its selling shareholders, including M Ventures, in its sale to global pharmaceutical company H. Lundbeck A/S for up to €905 million.
  • Biocon Limited, Asia’s premier biopharmaceutical company, in the negotiation of an exclusive global collaboration agreement with Sandoz, a Novartis division, to develop, manufacture and commercialize multiple biosimilars in immunology and oncology for patients worldwide.
  • The shareholders on the sale of Stat-Dx, a privately owned Spanish diagnostics company, to QIAGEN N.V., for US$191 million (including milestones).
  • Centaur Media plc, a listed company which owns The Lawyer magazine, on the sale of Home Interest and the acquisition of MarketMakers Incorporated Limited.
  • Bicycle Therapeutics Limited on its £40 million Series B equity financing round, led by Vertex Global Fund I alongside Cambridge Innovation Capital and Longwood Fund, with existing investors including Novartis Venture Fund, SR One and SVLS also participating in the round.
  • The selling shareholders in Ziarco Group Limited in connection with the sale of the company to Novartis.
  • Cellnovo, an innovative biotechnology company, on its IPO in compartment C of the Euronext regulated market in Paris, raising €31.56 million through capital increase, with a market capitalization of €113.6 million.
  • Egalet, a fully integrated specialty pharmaceutical company, on its IPO on NASDAQ, which raised US$54.8 million.
  • Highland Capital Partners, Index Ventures, HarbourVest Partners and Insight Venture Partners, as the principal investors in Photobox Group, on its announced £400m acquisition (subject to conditions) by Exponent Private Equity and Electra Partners.
  • The shareholders of AM-Pharma B.V. on the sale of a minority interest in the company to Pfizer Inc. and the grant of an exclusive option to Pfizer to acquire the remaining equity in the company, exercisable upon completion of a Phase II trial of recAP in the treatment of Acute Kidney Injury related to sepsis, for an upfront payment of US$87.5 million and additional potential payments of up to US$512.5 million upon option exercise and potential launch of any product by Pfizer.XO1 Limited on its sale to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (an affiliate of Johnson & Johnson).
  • XO1 is a UK-based company developing Ichorcumab, a novel anticoagulant to treat Thrombosis.
  • Momondo Group Limited, the operator of the websites “Cheapflights” and “Momondo”, and its shareholders on the sale of a majority interest in Momondo Group to Great Hill Partners, a private equity firm based in Boston, USA.
  • The shareholders of biopharmaceutical company Covagen AG in relation to the sale of Covagen to the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.
  • Index Ventures, Greylock Partners, Redpoint Ventures, SM Trust and Vitruvian Partners (the majority shareholders of leading online takeaway service in relation to the IPO of on the London Stock Exchange’s High Growth segment.
  • The Mohamed Al Fayed family trust in connection with the sale of Fulham Football Club to Shahid Khan, the CEO of Flex-N-Gate Group and owner of the NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • The investors (Bessemer Venture Partners, Index Ventures, Idivest Partners and Elaia Partners) of leading global technology company Criteo in connection with its IPO on NASDAQ.
  • Index Ventures on the US$5 billion flotation on NASDAQ of, the UK-based mobile gaming company best known for its hit puzzle game “Candy Crush Saga”.
  • ProFibrix B.V. in connection with its sale (by way of an option agreement) to Nasdaq-listed The Medicines Company. 
  • CBS Corporation on its joint venture to create CBS-branded channels from Chello Zone’s existing entertainment channels across 83 territories worldwide, including Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
  • UK-based life sciences company Funxional Therapeutics Ltd. on the sale to Boehringer Ingelheim, the German pharmaceuticals company, of the global rights to its FX125L compound and somatotaxin programme, used to treat a broad range of inflammatory diseases.
  • Cellzome, Inc. the leading proteomics technologies R&D company with laboratories in the UK and Germany, in connection with its US$99 million sale to GlaxoSmithKline plc.
  • PhotoBox, Europe’s largest online photo processing service, on its £120 million acquisition of Limited, the market leader in online personalised greeting cards.
  • Altima Partners, as sponsor, and Campos Verdes Ltd. on its US$613.2 million business combination with El Tejar SAACEI to form El Tejar Limited, one of the leading agribusinesses in Latin America.
  • The selling shareholders in Last.FM (including Index Ventures), the leading London-based music and social networking website, in connection with the sale of the company to CBS Corporation for US$280 million.
  • PanGenetics BV and its selling shareholders in connection with the sale for US$190 million of a chronic pain compound (PG110) to Abbott Laboratories pursuant to a Dutch/UK demerger process.
  • Biocon, India’s leading biotechnology company, in its strategic global agreement with Pfizer, Inc. for the worldwide commercialization of Biocon’s biosimilar versions of insulin and insulin analog products, for an up front fee of US$200 million and milestone payments of US$150 million.
  • A consortium led by Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners in a £30 million Series B financing round for Cellnovo Limited, the developer of the first mobile diabetes management system.
  • Candover on its €220 million buy-out of the high technology optics division of Thales SA.
  • Capital Z Partners on its US$200 million sale of British Marine Holdings.
  • The €4.4 billion buy-out by Access Industries and The Chatterjee Group of Basell NV.
  • College of Law, Guildford, 1991
  • Oxford Brookes University, B.A., 1990
  • England and Wales