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Kirkland, Latham, Davis, Freshfields: Business of Law

Michael C. Keats, a former managing director in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)’s legal department, joined law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP as a litigation partner this week.

Keats, 43, was associate general counsel in the litigation and regulatory proceedings group at Goldman Sachs, which he joined in 2007, according to a statement on the law firm’s website. He was previously a securities and global enforcement partner in O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s New York office.

“His experience at Goldman Sachs during a period of extraordinary change and enforcement activity on Wall Street will be a tremendous asset to our clients,” Jeffrey C. Hammes, chairman of Kirkland’s global management executive committee, said in the statement.

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history before converting to a bank in 2008, paid $550 million last year to settle a fraud accusation from the Securities and Exchange Commission and was accused by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of misleading clients. The Justice Department said last month that it wouldn’t pursue criminal charges against New York-based Goldman Sachs related to information uncovered by the Senate subcommittee.

Latham Former M&A Veteran Joins Communications Firm

Charles Nathan, former Latham & Watkins LLP corporate governance task force and global mergers and acquisition practice co-chairman, has joined the strategic communications firm RLM Finsbury, as a partner and senior adviser.

At Latham, Nathan worked on large domestic and global mergers and acquisitions transactions including, Roche’s $45 billion acquisition of the public’s minority stake in Genentech, InBev’s $52 billion acquisition of Anheuser-Busch and LiveNation’s $2.5 billion merger of equals with Ticketmaster Entertainment.

“Chuck offers strong judgment, shrewd tactical insights, and a distinctive ability to develop communications strategies that resonate with shareholders and other key audiences, while taking into account the relevant legal and regulatory considerations which can impact outcomes,” Walter Montgomery, CEO of RLM Finsbury, said in a statement.

American Stock Exchange CEO Joins Richardson & Patel

Richardson & Patel LLP announced that the former Chairman and CEO of the American Stock Exchange, Neal Wolkoff, will join the firm as of counsel.

Wolkoff, prior to his tenure at Amex, was chief operating officer at the Nymex.

“It is a remarkable honor to have someone of his stature join our firm and we look forward to his substantive contributions to our clients as the capital markets continue facing constant regulatory change through Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act,” managing partner Nimish Patel said in a statement.

Richardson & Patel focuses on corporate & securities law, mergers & acquisitions, and business, securities & employment litigation. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York and Princeton, New Jersey.

White & Case Hires Stockholm Mergers and Acquisitions Partner

White & Case LLP has hired global mergers and acquisitions partner Darragh Byrne in the firm’s Stockholm office.

Byrne is dual-qualified in English and Swedish law and joins the firm from Linklaters LLP, the firm said. His experience includes working on a variety of mergers and acquisitions and capital markets transactions for clients both in the Nordic region and internationally. A senior associate also joins White & Case’s mergers and acquisitions practice in Stockholm from Linklaters.

White & Case hired 13 mergers and acquisitions partners across the firm in 2011. Byrne is the 10th partner to join the practice area in 2012.

The firm has 38 offices in 26 countries.

News

Ambassador Stevens, Witness Turned Casualty in Libya, Dies at 52

John Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya killed trying to evacuate the U.S. consulate in Benghazi during an attack by Islamist protesters, was a firsthand witness to Libya’s painful transition to democracy who became one of its casualties. He was 52.

Known to friends and colleagues as Chris, the California native was an Arabic-speaking, 21-year veteran of the State Department who had postings in Damascus, Cairo and other Middle Eastern locales before his first stint in Libya from 2007 to 2009.

Stevens received a law degree from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1989 and worked as an international trade lawyer before joining the Foreign Service in 1991.

Stevens, the No. 2 diplomat in Tripoli when Muammar Qaddafi was still in power, went to Benghazi in 2011 as the eyes and ears for policy makers trying to gauge how to respond to the rebellion and avert a massacre in that city by Qaddafi forces. He was promoted to ambassador after the dictator was killed by rebels, and led the U.S. post there at the height of the revolution.

“With characteristic skill, courage and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya,” President Barack Obama said yesterday in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Stevens’ death comes four months after he was sworn in and dispatched to the most challenging assignment of his career: navigating the aftermath of Qaddafi in a divided country with no constitution or rule of law. Tribal rivalries have pitted regional militias against one another, and weapons made their way across borders, falling into the hands of insurgents.

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Deals

Morgan Stanley Prevails as MSSB Value Set at $13.5 Billion

Morgan Stanley (MS) agreed to buy the rest of its brokerage joint venture from Citigroup Inc. (C) at a fixed price that values the entire unit at $13.5 billion -- or about 40 percent less than Citigroup’s estimate two months ago. Davis Polk Wardwell LLP is advising Citigroup, while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is providing counsel to Morgan Stanley.

The Davis Polk corporate team includes New York partner John A. Bick. New York partners Neil Barr and Avishai Shachar are providing tax advice.

Wachtell Lipton’s team is led by corporate partners Steven A. Rosenblum and Karessa L. Cain. Additional partners included Richard K. Kim on corporate matters and T. Eiko Stange on tax.

Morgan Stanley will pay $1.89 billion for a 14 percent stake this year and $4.73 billion for the remaining 35 percent by 2015, New York-based Citigroup said yesterday in a filing. The lender said it expects to take a $2.9 billion third-quarter charge, a sum that exceeds the average profit estimate by analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

The valuation -- closer to Morgan Stanley’s $9 billion estimate than Citigroup’s $22 billion -- reflects the venture’s struggle to boost earnings amid a trading slump and global economic weakness.

The two banks in 2009 formed the venture, with the most financial advisers of any brokerage, and Morgan Stanley paid $2.75 billion for a 51 percent stake and the right to buy the rest over time. Morgan Stanley agreed to buy the next 15 percent piece of the brokerage by June and complete the purchase by June 2015.

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Firm News

Freshfields Reopens in Singapore as Southeast Asia Deals Climb

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, the number two legal adviser on mergers and acquisitions, reopened in Singapore after withdrawing in 2007 as deals climb in the Southeast Asia city state’s region.

“The time is right to open in Singapore,” Stephen Revell, who heads the firm’s global capital markets practice, said in a phone interview. “We’ve got a lot of demand from clients to be here and centering deals in Singapore,” he said.

Revell is jointly heading the new office with Gavin MacLaren, in charge of the energy practice in Asia, and they plan to have 15 to 20 lawyers by the end of next month.

The return of Freshfields comes as 23 foreign law firms last month bid for licenses to practice local corporate law in Singapore as the legal market further opens. Mergers and acquisitions in the city state rose 26 percent to $36.3 billion this year while uncertainty over the euro has hampered deal activity in the 17-nation group.

Revell declined to comment on whether Freshfields has applied for a local law license. It was licensed to advise on non-Singapore law from its office in the city as of Sept. 1.

The London-based firm advised Vallar Plc on its $3 billion investment in Indonesia’s PT Bumi Resources (BUMI) and PT Berau Coal Energy and the $2 billion initial public offering of Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare Bhd. (IHH) this year. It also advised on the $5.45 billion share sale of Hutchison Port Holdings Trust (HPHT) in Singapore.

Freshfields was the first international law firm in Singapore in 1980 and later established an alliance with local firm Drew & Napier LLC before ending that and withdrawing in 2007.

Revell said the 2007 decision was due to the global economic environment, and the reopening reflects the strong position of Singapore currently.

Singapore opened its legal industry in 2000 by allowing foreign firms to set up joint ventures. There are 110 foreign law firms registered in Singapore as of Sept. 1, a 53 percent increase from July 2007.

This week Maples and Calder also announced that it has opened a Singapore office, the firm’s second Asian office after Hong Kong. The Singapore office will be managed by funds partner, Nick Harrold who is joined by corporate finance partner, James Burch, and private equity and corporate lawyer, Tom Katsaros. Harrold and Burch will relocate from the firm’s Hong Kong office. Katsaros rejoins Maples and Calder, having previously worked in its Cayman Islands office.

Law Firms Expand in the Middle East and South Africa

In addition to a flurry of activity in Singapore (see Freshfields and Maples and Calder’s new offices above), two more law firms announced expansions this week with a new office in Dubai for Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP and an association in South Africa for SNR Denton LLP.

Berwin Leighton’s Dubai office is its second in the United Arab Emirates, after Abu Dhabi. Real estate partner, Mohammed Kamal, will head the Dubai office, which will provide legal services in the areas of real estate, planning and regulatory, construction, corporate, finance, projects and dispute resolution.

SNR Denton formed an association with energy law firm KapdiTwala, based in Cape Town. KapdiTwala specializes in providing corporate and business advice, as well as representation in litigation, to clients in the energy sector, the firm said.

“KapdiTwala is the most highly regarded specialist energy law practice in South Africa with more than 20 years’ experience in the energy sector and we are extremely pleased to be entering into an association with them. This association will provide a platform of opportunities for black South African lawyers to specialize and develop careers in the energy industry,” Stephen Shergold, partner and co-head of SNR Denton’s market leading Energy Department, said in a statement.

Litigation

Sands Lawyer Says He Didn’t Tell Judge About Macau E-Mails

A lawyer for Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) testified that he didn’t tell the judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by the fired head of the casino operator’s Chinese unit about e-mails from Macau that had been reviewed in Las Vegas.

Justin Jones testified on the third day of hearings to determine whether attorneys for Sheldon Adelson’s gaming company made misrepresentations or weren’t forthright last year with a Nevada state court judge about the presence of evidence from Macau that had been shipped to Las Vegas.

Jones was asked by a lawyer for the fired chief executive officer of Sands China Ltd. (1928), Steven Jacobs, what action he took when the parent company’s attorneys told the judge computer files sought by Jacobs as evidence in his breach-of-contract case couldn’t be transferred from Macau to Las Vegas.

“I did nothing,” said Jones, who’s no longer involved in the case.

The casino operators face possible court sanctions for failing to disclose to the judge they shipped computer files from Macau to Las Vegas as early as 2010, shortly after Jacobs was fired and had sued the companies. The company had argued that a privacy law in Macau prevented them from bringing data to the U.S.

Jones said he and other lawyers for Las Vegas Sands last year reviewed some of Jacobs’s e-mails before the company represented to the judge that documents in Macau had to be reviewed there by Sands China lawyers and cleared with local authorities prior to being produced as evidence for the lawsuit in Nevada.

“I don’t believe there were very many,” Jones said, referring to the Jacobs e-mails he reviewed.

Stephen Peek, another lawyer for Las Vegas Sands, testified Sept. 11 that he had disclosed to Jacobs’s previous lawyers last year that data from Macau was in Las Vegas. He said, under questioning from Todd Bice, one of Jacobs’s current lawyers, that he didn’t tell them what exactly the data was or that they included e-mails from Jacobs.

“I didn’t think it was my obligation to tell him what my work product was,” Peek said.

Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez said yesterday “there are certain inconsistencies in the spin that was made to the court.”

She said her focus now was on possible misrepresentations made to her and that Jacobs’s lawyers may separately pursue claims that they were deceived.

The case is Jacobs v. Las Vegas Sands, A627691-B, District Court, Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas).

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To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Amon in Brooklyn, New York, at eamon2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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