Akin Gump, Proskauer, Debevoise, Skadden: Business of Law

A seven-partner team of corporate and litigation partners from Haynes & Boone LLP jumped to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s Dallas office.

Corporate partners Tom Yang, Garrett DeVries and Matt Zmigrosky, will continue their focus on mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and securities, including private- equity transactions, the firm said.

Litigators Marty Brimmage Jr., Mike Warnecke, Arnold Spencer and Sarah Teachout will focus on white-collar, government investigations, antitrust, false-claims matters, bankruptcy litigation and commercial litigation.

“This is an extraordinary group of lawyers entering the prime of their careers,” firm Chairman Bruce McLean said in a statement. “Their arrival will be a tremendous step forward for Akin Gump in Dallas and will greatly enhance our core strengths in corporate and litigation work.”

Hanes and Boone said in a statement, “We are saddened to see these colleagues, many of whom started their careers here at Haynes and Boone, leave. We wish them well and much success in their new firm.”

Akin Gump has more than 850 attorneys in 17 offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Rothschild Said to Hire Lazard’s Walker, Former Cleary MP

Rothschild, a family-run bank, hired Lazard Ltd. (LAZ)’s former senior adviser Mark Walker, who worked with Greece on debt restructuring, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Walker joined Rothschild in London last month to work on sovereign debt for government clients, said the people, who declined to be named because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Richard Creswell, a London-based spokesman for Lazard, and a Rothschild spokesman in Paris declined to comment.

Lazard hired Walker to its government advisory unit in Paris last year. He was previously managing partner at New York- based law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, working on debt negotiations for five decades, including in Mexico during the Latin American crisis of the early 1980s.

Before moving to Lazard, Walker worked with the New York Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury on how to deal with the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Lazard said in a statement in June last year.

Steptoe, Hunton & Williams, Baker Donelson’s U.S. Hires

Steptoe & Johnson LLP hired Harvey Geller for its intellectual property group, the Washington-based firm said in a statement.

He joins the firm from Universal Music Group Inc., where he was deputy general counsel and senior vice president of business and legal affairs until May. His area of expertise is copyright, and he has litigated cases involving user-generated content and inducement of copyright infringement.

John R.R. Tormey has joined Hunton & Williams LLP’s global energy and infrastructure team as counsel in Washington. John was previously senior counsel at Constellation Energy Group Inc.

At Constellation Energy, Tormey was primary legal advisor for development and acquisition of conventional fuel projects, alternative energy projects, as well as all finance, commercial, corporate and regulatory compliance matters for Constellation’s non-nuclear generation fleet. He also was primary counsel for UniStar Nuclear’s project and financing agreements in the development of new nuclear power plants, the firm said.

Martha L. Boyd and John M. Scannapieco have joined the Nashville office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC. Both shareholders were both previously with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, the firm said.

Scannapieco, who was the leader of Bradley Arant’s China practice team, will co-leader the firm’s Global practice team with Doreen Edelman of in Washington office. His focus on international law includes working with a variety of U.S.-based companies in connection with their business activities in China, Japan, Europe, the Americas and Africa, the firm said.

Boyd concentrates her practice in labor and employment law and employee benefits litigation. She has represented employers in litigation in state and federal courts and assists employers in assessing and reducing risk associated with personnel decisions and policy implementation.

News

“Suicide Prices” & the Coming Crisis at Big Law Firms: Video

An increasing number of major law firms are quoting “suicide prices” just to get business that will keep their lawyers occupied, even though the firms can’t make money on the work, according to law firm consultant Bruce MacEwen.

Those firms may be training clients, like department stores have done with their customers, only to buy when prices are discounted, which could lead to more major firms going out of business, says MacEwen, who writes at Adam Smith Esq.

“Some firms get it completely; other firms just are hoping they can hold their breath and it will be 2006 again.”

MacEwen talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

For the video, click here.

Deals

Proskauer, Morgan Lewis on Ares Purchase of Smart & Final

Proskauer Rose LLP advised Ares Management in its agreement to acquire a majority stake in Smart & Final Holdings Corp, for $975 million, with senior management retaining a minority stake. Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP advised Smart & Final, majority-owned and controlled by investment funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management LLC.

The Proskauer lawyers advising on the deal are partners Michael Woronoff and Daniel Ganitsky, mergers and acquisitions; Michael Fernhoff, tax; Philippa Bond and Andrew Bettwy, finance; and Daryn Grossman, intellectual property.

The Morgan Lewis deal team was led by business and finance partners Robert Robison and R. Alec Dawson.

Retailer Smart & Final operates 235 stores under three formats in six western U.S. states, with an additional 13 joint- venture stores in northwest Mexico.

Ares Management LLC is a global alternative asset manager and SEC registered investment adviser headquartered in Los Angeles. It has about $54 billion of committed capital under management and over 540 employees, the firm said in a statement.

For more, click here.

AIA Group Agrees to Buy ING’s Malaysia Unit for $1.7 Billion

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is advising AIA Group Ltd. (1299), the third-largest Asia-based insurer, in its agreement to buy ING Groep NV (INGA)’s insurance business in Malaysia for about 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in its largest acquisition as a listed company. Allen & Overy LLP is advising ING.

The Debevoise team was led by partner E. Drew Dutton in Hong Kong and included partners Jeremy G. Hill and Richard Ward in London. Charles Honée and Richard Evans were lead partners on this deal at A&O.

The purchase will boost the percentage of profit AIA gets from Malaysia to 13 percent from 8 percent, it said in a statement. Separately, AIA said its value of new business rose 22 percent in the third quarter to a record $300 million.

The acquisition will combine ING’s operations, the third- largest in Malaysia, and AIA’s existing business, the fourth biggest, to create the No. 1 life insurer in the country, according to the statement.

For more, click here.

Firm News

Baker & McKenzie Announce New Leaders in Australia and Toronto

Baker & McKenzie LLP’s Chris Saxon has been appointed national chairman of the firm’s Australian offices, and Kevin B. Coon has been named managing partner of its Toronto office. Both take over their new leadership roles after their predecessors were appointed to the firm’s executive committee.

Saxon succeeds Bruce Hambrett who has been appointed to the firm’s primary management team, the executive committee.

Saxon is a projects lawyer, focusing on infrastructure and energy and resources. He led the Baker & McKenzie team advising the NSW Government on the state’s electricity privatization and is an adviser on the next round of NSW Electricity Privatizations, the firm said in a statement.

Coon is a member of Baker & McKenzie’s labor and employment practice. He previously was head of the Toronto labor and employment practice and the North American representative on firm’s global talent management committee. He succeeds Jim Holloway.

Baker & McKenzie has more than 4,000 lawyers in 72 offices in 45 countries.

Jones Day Launches Intellectual-Property Agency in China

Jones Day established a licensed domestic intellectual- property agency in China. The agency was formed to meet growing demand for intellectual-property consulting services, the firm said.

The Jones Day Intellectual Property Agency (Beijing) Co., Ltd. works with clients on anti-counterfeiting strategies, administrative raid and market sweep actions, trademark matters before the China Trademark Office, the Trademark Review and Adjudication Board and the People’s Courts in China, and deals with Chinese customs seizures, the firm said.

Jones Day has more than 2,400 lawyers in 35 offices worldwide.

Litigation

Berezovsky to Pay $56 Million of Abramovich U.K. Lawsuit Costs

Boris Berezovsky agreed to pay 35 million pounds ($56 million) of Roman Abramovich’s legal fees for a U.K. lawsuit in which Berezovsky sought compensation for stakes in two companies he said he was intimidated into selling.

The fee goes to pay a bill by Abramovich’s counsel, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, which asked for 40 million pounds, Legal Week reported. Skadden’s bill included an 8 million pound payment to Brick Court’s Jonathan Sumption QC, the publication said.

Berezovsky has been represented by Addleshaw Goddard LLP, Legal Week reported.

The fee deal is a “very efficient settlement,” Judge Elizabeth Gloster said Oct. 12 at a London hearing.

The self-exiled adviser to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin sued claiming he lost about $6.8 billion, because he was intimidated by Abramovich into selling stakes in two Russian companies. A large portion of the legal fees were racked up during a three-month trial which culminated in August with Gloster rejecting Berezovsky’s claims against Abramovich, who owns Chelsea Football Club and has a fortune of about $14.5 billion.

Both sides accused each other of dishonesty and greed during the trial and exposed the business practices of a small group of extremely wealthy Russians who profited from the fall of communism and the privatization of many of the country’s largest energy companies.

Berezovsky was “an unimpressive, and inherently unreliable witness, who regarded truth as a transitory flexible concept,” Gloster said in her judgment after the trial.

Berezovsky also paid 3.75 million pounds of a 5 million pound bill by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP for client Vasily Anisimov, LegalWeek said. Berezovsky settled a case against Anisimov involving a breach of fiduciary duty over interest in an ire ore producer, the publication said.

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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