Joseph Flom, `Architect' of Modern Takeover Law, Dies at 87

Joseph Flom, the last surviving original partner of law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and an architect of the laws and practices guiding U.S. corporate takeovers, has died. He was 87.

He died today, the firm said in a news release. The cause was heart failure.

Flom was “a giant in the takeover field, perhaps the single most important force in the game during the 1970s and 1980s,” Robert Slater wrote in his 1999 book, “The Titans of Takeover.”

So feared was he “that arbitragers were eager to know which side Joe Flom was on whenever a takeover was announced,” Slater wrote. Some firms even paid Flom a retainer to make sure he wouldn’t end up challenging them, a practice that became known as the “Joe Flom protection policy.”

Flom, who joined Skadden as the firm’s first associate in 1948, was “the architect of the modern-day M&A law practice,” Robert C. Sheehan, the firm’s executive partner from 1994 to 2009, said in a statement.

Flom orchestrated Ron Perelman’s 1985 takeover of Revlon and ABC’s sale to Capital Cities. In 2008 he advised Anheuser- Busch Cos. when it was bought for $52 billion by the Belgian brewer InBev NV.

Joseph Harold Flom was born on Dec. 21, 1923, in Baltimore and raised in Brooklyn. After graduating from City College of New York and serving in the U.S. Army, he attended Harvard Law School on the G.I. Bill, graduating in 1948, the year he joined Skadden.

Survivors include his wife, Judi, sons Jason and Peter, and daughter Nancy Laing. His first wife, Claire, died in 2007.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurence Arnold in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at

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