London – Global law firm Mayer Brown has been recognized at this year's IFLR Europe Award for its innovative work advising Novartis on its ground-breaking sustainability-linked bond offering in 2020. The deal was named "Debt and Equity-linked Deal of the Year" at the premier financial law awards in Europe, announced on April 29, 2021. The Novartis legal team was also named “Corporate In-house Team of the Year” at the awards.

The ground-breaking transaction is the first-ever offering of a sustainability-linked bond in the healthcare sector and the first-ever offering of a sustainability-linked bond incorporating "social" targets, with bondholders entitled to receive a higher amount of interest if Novartis fails to meet its targets for expanding access to its innovative medicines and addressing key global health challenges — two areas where Novartis can drive the greatest value for society.

The winning Mayer Brown team comprised lawyers from the firm’s offices in London and New York and was led by Banking & Finance partner Bernd Bohr (London). The team included Banking & Finance partner James Taylor and associate Whitney Joseph (both London), as well as Tax Transactions & Consulting partner Jared Goldberger (New York).

Commenting on the win James Wilson, IFLR Commercial Editor, said: “In recognition of the innovative legal work underpinning the structure, the deal was named the 2021 Debt and equity-linked deal of the year. The team created a structure that could bring together the requirements of two external opinion providers – Sustainalytics and the Access to Medicines Foundation – with the recently published ICMA Sustainability-Linked Bond Principles (SLBP) and Novartis’s strategies to address global health challenges and expand access to medicines. These factors require a unique and detailed approach to the bond. It was the first such offering aligned with the SLBP by a European issuer.

"The novel application of sustainability principles in this field and the rigor applied to the certification process sets a gold standard. It is especially innovative given than sustainability-linked instruments are a new tool for issuers.”

Mayer Brown deal partners Bernd Bohr and James Taylor commented: “It has been a privilege to be able to advise Novartis on yet another ground-breaking transaction and to be able to showcase how innovative financing solutions can be used to promote goals that benefit society as a whole. We are particularly pleased to also see the highly experienced and truly dedicated Novartis legal team recognized as Corporate In-house Team of the Year.”

The IFLR Europe Awards 2021 celebrate the most innovative transactions of 2020 and the teams and lawyers behind them. The awards showcase transactions that break new legal ground, set precedents and develop the legal environment for cross-border corporate finance during the research period.

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