Squire Sanders, Milbank, Shearman: Business of Law

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s antitrust head Mark Botti, decamped to Squire Sanders LLP with two colleagues, J. Brady Dugan and Anthony Swisher, also antitrust partners.

Botti, who headed Akin Gump’s antitrust and unfair competition practice, previously spent 13 years at the U.S. Justice Department, where he was the assistant chief of the Antitrust Division and oversaw hearings by the Federal Trade Commission on health care during 2004 and 2005.

“The expansion of our antitrust practice has been one of the key strategic goals of our Washington, D.C., office and our regulatory practice,” Jim Maiwurm, chairman and global chief executive officer of Squire Sanders, said in a statement. “As antitrust scrutiny and enforcement continue to rise around the world, the addition of this team to the firm’s existing global antitrust and regulatory capabilities will enhance our ability to support clients in this strategically critical area.”

Botti represents clients on antitrust matters that include government investigations, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures. His representative matters include defending Medtronic Inc. in Lenox MacLaren Surgical v. Medtronic and defending UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. in Franco v. Memorial Hermann Healthcare v. West Houston GP, according to his cached biography at Akin Gump.

Botti said in an interview that Squire Sanders’s global focus both generally and in its antitrust practice was what drew him to the firm. His new firm’s U.S. regulatory focus was key as well, he said.

“In the United States, what is developing is a stronger interaction between antitrust enforcement and other government regulatory bodies,” Botti said. “So, Squire Sanders’s focus will complement what I will be doing in the future.”

Dugan, a 15-year Justice Department veteran, focuses on criminal and civil antitrust, fraud and related matters. He also has experience with international cartel matters and white collar federal crimes. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Dugan spent three years in the Justice Department’s Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, where he appeared before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the firm said.

Swisher, who has represented clients before the FTC and the Antitrust Division, also has health-care experience, representing health plans, according to his cached Akin Gump biography.

“We thank Mark, Brady and Anthony for their contributions and wish them well in all future endeavors,” Akin Gump Chairman R. Bruce McLean said in an e-mail.

Squire Sanders has about 1,300 lawyers at 37 offices in 18 countries.

Milbank Hires Financial Services Regulatory Litigator

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP expanded its litigation practice with the addition of financial services regulatory litigator Charles Evans as a partner in London.

Evans joins from Norton Rose LLP, where he handled domestic and international banking and commercial disputes, and developed a specialization in contentious regulatory proceedings, the firm said.

“We are very pleased to add such a prominent and experienced financial services regulatory litigation partner to our practice,” Alan Stone, the practice group leader of Milbank’s litigation and arbitration group, said in a statement.

Evans is the fifth new partner to join Milbank’s London office in the past eight months. In May, the firm announced the arrival of corporate lawyer Mark Stamp from Linklaters LLP. In June, Nicholas Spearing joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP as the office’s first competition/antitrust partner. In August, Neil Caddy joined from Mayer Brown LLP to expand the firm’s leveraged finance practice and Clive Ransome joined the project finance practice from Linklaters, the firm said.

Milbank has 575 lawyers at 11 offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Public Finance Lawyer Rafael Perez Joins Edwards Wildman

Public finance lawyer Rafael Perez joined Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP as a partner in the public finance department at the firm’s Madison, New Jersey, office. Perez was a partner at Cozen O’Connor, where he was co-chairman of the public and project finance practice group, the firm said.

Perez has worked on public finance projects, acting as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, trustee’s counsel and borrower’s counsel. He has also represented corporations and financial institutions in transactional and general corporate matters.

Edwards Wildman’s office in Madison has expanded to 20 lawyers. The firm has 650 lawyers at 15 offices in the U.S., London and Asia.

Reed Smith Adds Global Regulatory Enforcement Partner

Reed Smith LLP announced that Tracy K. Genesen joined the firm as a San Francisco-based partner in the global regulatory enforcement group. Genesen joins from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she was a partner focused on regulatory litigation.

During her 23 years in practice, Genesen has developed an expertise in the area of constitutional law relating to the interstate sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages, particularly with respect to wineries, the firm said. She also provides regulatory advice to producers, retailers and social media entities in the alcoholic beverage industry. Genesen also joins the firm’s global energy and natural resources group.

Reed Smith has more than 1,700 lawyers in 23 offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Deals

Skadden IP Partner Leads Cleveland Browns Stadium Naming Deal

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is advising FirstEnergy Corp., which announced a naming rights deal with the Cleveland Browns for an undisclosed amount.

The Browns home field, which has been known as Cleveland Browns Stadium since it was completed in 1999, will now be called FirstEnergy Stadium.

Skadden intellectual property and technology partner Stuart Levi led the team along with associate Gregory Palumbo.

The energy company, based in Akron, Ohio, has been a corporate partner with the Browns since 1999, the company said in a statement.

The deal must be approved by the Cleveland City Council.

Skadden also represented MetLife Inc. in 2011 in connection with its 25-year deal to name the Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, where the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants play, MetLife Stadium, the firm said.

Shearman Advises on Saint-Gobain Sale to Ardagh for $1.7 Billion

Four law firms were involved in Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA’s agreement to sell the U.S. business of its Verallia glass bottle-and-jar unit to Ardagh Group SA for $1.7 billion in a deal that tops the valuation placed on it in an earlier spinoff attempt.

Shearman & Sterling LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP advised Ardagh. Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP and Bredin Prat are advising Saint-Gobain.

Shearman & Sterling is representing Ardagh on both the antitrust and financing side of the deal. London corporate partner Apostolos Gkoutzinis is leading the financing work, while New York antitrust partner Dale Collins is leading the antitrust work.

Antitrust partner Christine Varney, corporate partner George Stephanakis and tax partner Stephen Gordon from Cravath worked on the deal.

The Freshfields team was led by partner Alan Mason in Paris, with New York-based corporate partner Julian Pritchard. Paris-based partner Cyril Valentin and Washington-based partner Claude Stansbury advised on tax issues.

“It puts a high value on our North American containers business, above the multiples contemplated at the time of the planned IPO,” said Saint-Gobain Chief Executive Officer Pierre- Andre de Chalendar. In 2011, the French company sought to raise as much as 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) by selling 40 percent of Verallia in an initial public offering, only to be prevented by a market slump amid the sovereign debt crisis.

Saint-Gobain is exiting packaging to focus on homebuilding and renovation products, glass used in cars and construction, and high-performance materials such as refractories. Closely held Ardagh, a Luxembourg-based glass and metal packaging company with clients such as brewer Heineken NV (HEIA) and cosmetics maker L’Oreal SA (OR), said the deal will increase its glass business globally by almost 60 percent and help it win new clients in the U.S. wine industry.

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Litigation

Exxon Lawyer Tells Jury MTBE Caused No Illness in New Hampshire

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) told a jury that a gasoline additive to reduce air pollution never caused illness to any resident of New Hampshire, which sued oil companies claiming the chemical polluted its groundwater.

Exxon Mobil and Citgo Petroleum Corp. made opening statements yesterday in a jury trial of an $816 million lawsuit in which the state alleges the oil companies knew the chemical would contaminate groundwater. The state court trial, which began Jan. 14 in Concord, pits the environmental claims against assertions by companies that they were simply complying with federal pollution standards.

“This is not a personal-injury case,” David Lender, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP representing Exxon Mobil, told the jury. “There’s not any evidence that anyone ever got sick or got cancer from MTBE.” He said there has been no gasoline sold in the state containing MTBE for more than six years.

The state claimed that the oil companies knew that if they added MTBE to gasoline it would increase the risk and costs associated with contamination.

“Exxon decided to disregard the recommendation of its own employees and put MTBE in gasoline,” Jessica Grant, a lawyer for the state, told jurors Jan. 14. “In 1984, Exxon anticipated that if it added MTBE to its gasoline, the number of contamination incidents would triple. These incidents would take longer to clean up and cost five times as much.”

Each cleanup at that time would have cost as much as $7 million, she said.

The companies said the federal Clean Air Act overrides the state claims, and that by adding MTBE to gasoline, they were complying with a U.S. mandate to supply cleaner-burning fuel.

Oil refiners began adding MTBE to gasoline in the 1970s to replace lead. From 1995 to 2006, they increased the use of MTBE, which boosts the fuel’s oxygen level, making it burn more cleanly.

“We had no choice but to put oxygenates in our gasoline,” Nate Eimer, a lawyer for Citgo, said yesterday in his opening statement. “Nothing worked better in cleaning the air than MTBE.”

James Quinn, also a partner at Weil and a lawyer for Exxon Mobil, told the jury Jan. 14 that there were “great benefits to using MTBE but there were downsides. All of these downsides were known to all the folks involved.”

New Hampshire sued Exxon Mobil and Citgo in 2003 along with Shell Oil Co., Sunoco Inc., ConocoPhillips, Irving Oil Ltd., Vitol SA and Hess Corp. (HES) All settled but Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil and Citgo, the Houston-based unit of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA. Shell and Sunoco agreed to pay $35 million in an accord announced in November.

New Hampshire said it has identified 228 sites that will require cleanup from contamination by MTBE, which according to court filings can cause cancer in animals. Tests in 2005 and 2006 found MTBE in 9.1 percent of private wells throughout the state, it said.

New Hampshire is seeking $816 million to cover cleanup and monitoring costs, Grant said, and it will ask for damages from Exxon Mobil and Citgo based on their market shares of gasoline sold in the state during the time the suit covers.

The case is State of New Hampshire v. Hess Corp., 03- C-0550, New Hampshire Superior Court, Merrimack County (Concord). The federal cases are consolidated as In re MTBE Products Liability Litigation, 00-11898, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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

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

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