Holland & Knight, Debevoise, Morgan Lewis: Business of Law

A group of 24 lawyers including 12 partners from Patton Boggs LLP are joining Holland & Knight LLP, which is opening its 18th U.S. office in Dallas.

James C. Chadwick, former co-chairman of Patton Boggs’s business department, will lead Holland & Knight’s Dallas office as executive partner.

“The outstanding group of lawyers joining our firm will enable us to expand our existing corporate finance and restructuring practices throughout the U.S.,” Steven Sonberg, Holland & Knight’s managing partner, said in a statement. “In addition, Holland & Knight’s entry into the Texas market will offer client expansion opportunities for our other practices.”

Michelle White Suarez, who was the managing partner of Patton Boggs’s Dallas office, and commercial finance partner Matthew Fontane will also assume leadership roles at Holland & Knight, the firm said.

Additional partners who practice in the areas of corporate and commercial finance, mergers and acquisitions and restructuring and bankruptcy joining the firm include Robert W. Jones, Scott C. Wallace, Kenneth M. Vesledahl, Fred S. Stovall, James L. Baker, Eric W. Kimball, Anthony J. Herrera, Brent R. McIlwain, and Eric M. Pfeifle.

The firm also hired 11 associate lawyers and a senior counsel and expects to make additional hires in the future.

Last week, after it was reported that a group was leaving Patton Boggs for Holland & Knight, Patton said in a statement, “These colleagues are our friends and we thank them for their service and wish them well in their new endeavors.” The firm had no further comment yesterday.

The lawyers joining Holland represent clients in the financial services and corporate sectors on leveraged acquisitions and leveraged recapitalizations, senior and subordinated debt, syndicated bank facilities, private placements, asset-based lending and restructurings, workouts and bankruptcy, among other matters, the firm said.

The group also advises institutions and funds on mergers, acquisitions and other business combinations, as well as securities and general corporate matters.

King & Spalding announced yesterday that former Patton Boggs partner David J. Farber, a life sciences and health-care regulatory litigator, joined the firm’s food and drug administration, life sciences and health-care practices in Washington.

Patton Boggs, with about 500 lawyers, has 10 offices in the U.S. and the Middle East. In Dallas, the firm has more than 75 lawyers, including more than 30 partners, according to its website.

Holland & Knight has more than 1,000 lawyers with offices in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Bogota and Mexico City as well as the U.S.

Deals

Debevoise, Covington Advise Tribune on $2.73 Billion Deal

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Covington & Burling LLP are advising Tribune Co. (TRBAA), which agreed to buy Local TV Holdings LLC’s 19 television stations for $2.73 billion in cash, the biggest U.S. broadcasting deal in six years. Dow Lohnes PLLC advised the sellers.

The Debevoise team is led by partners Paul S. Bird and Jonathan E. Levitsky and includes partners Jeffrey E. Ross, Peter A. Furci and Lawrence K. Cagney. Covington’s team was led by partners Mace Rosenstein and Matt DelNero.

Dow Lohnes’s team included partners Kevin Mills and Len Baxt, corporate, and Michael Basile, communications.

The acquisition of Local TV, principally owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, will almost double the number of Tribune’s stations to 42, according to a statement yesterday. Local TV assets include 16 markets, with top-rated stations in Denver, Cleveland and St. Louis, the companies said.

The deal, which reduces Tribune’s reliance on newspapers, offers a wider audience to advertisers and gives the company an edge in talks with cable and satellite carriers, who pay to distribute local channels on their networks. Including Gannett Co.’s agreement to buy Belo Corp. for $1.5 billion, the industry saw $3.2 billion in deals last quarter, the biggest for takeovers since 2007.

“Television is hot,” said Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York. “Right now these companies want to get bigger.”

Tribune’s acquisition is the largest takeover of a broadcast-TV company since a group led by Haim Saban acquired Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc. for $12.3 billion in 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Moves

Crowell & Moring Lures Six-Member Team from Dickstein

Crowell & Moring LLP added a six-member energy team from Dickstein Shapiro LLP in the environment, energy & resources group.

The new additions include partners Larry F. Eisenstat, who led Dickstein’s energy group, and corporate-transactional partners Patrick W. Lynch, and Jonathan C. Odell, the firm said in a statement. A policy adviser, counsel and associate also join the firm.

“They bring a wealth of experience, industry knowledge and relationships to our firm that will significantly enhance Crowell’s ability to assist its many energy industry clients,” Scott L. Winkelman, partner and co-chairman of Crowell & Moring’s environment, energy and resources group said of the hires. “Through their sophisticated understanding of energy markets, their project development and management skills, and their corporate transactional experience, the team will help Crowell & Moring clients navigate regulatory challenges, advise on emerging policy issues, structure and document corporate and transactional matters, as well as tackle bet-the-company disputes.”

The team has regulatory, project development, transactional, litigation, and compliance experience on behalf of companies that develop, finance, operate, acquire, sell, restructure, or manage energy and other infrastructure projects, the firm said.

Crowell & Moring’s environment, energy and resources group is comprised of almost 40 attorneys who work from the Washington, New York, California, Alaska and Wyoming offices. The firm has about 500 lawyers with 11 offices in the U.S., Europe, Cairo and Rydadh.

Chicago Office Chief Gillette Leaving SEC to Become Law Partner

Merri Jo Gillette will step down as director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Chicago office to join the the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP as a partner, the agency said yesterday in a statement.

Gillette will leave the SEC later this month after more than 25 years, the agency said.

At Morgan Lewis, Gillette will focus on representing financial institutions, corporations, boards of directors and individuals before financial services regulators and other regulatory authorities. She will also advise clients on internal investigations, developing effective compliance programs, risk and crisis management and corporate governance issues, the firm said in a statement.

Morgan Lewis has more than 1,600 legal professionals at 24 offices in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Gibson Dunn Expands, Adding Two Brussels Competition Lawyers

Competition lawyer Jens-Olrik Murach joins Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s Brussels office along with another lawyer. Murach, who joins the firm as a partner, previously practiced at Flick Gocke Schaumburg in Bonn, Germany, where he headed the EU and competition practice.

“We have expanded our competition practice in the U.K., U.S. and now Brussels to meet client demand,” Ken Doran, chairman and managing partner of Gibson Dunn, said in a statement.

Murach is a German-qualified lawyer with more than 10 years’ experience in antitrust law in Brussels and Germany. He will practice from both the Brussels and Munich offices, focusing on the German market, the firm said.

His antitrust practice includes merger control, restrictive practices, market dominance and cartel investigations. His representative work has included matters including Bayer/Aventis CropScience, Siemens/VA Tech and Areva/Alstom.

Gibson Dunn has more than 1,100 lawyers at 18 offices in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Shearman Arbitration Specialist to Join Cleary in Frankfurt

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP announced that Richard Kreindler, a partner at Shearman & Sterling LLP, will join the firm as a partner based in Frankfurt.

Kreindler will be part of the Cleary Gottlieb’s international arbitration and litigation practice.

Kreindler “will further strengthen our global disputes practice, which has represented corporate and sovereign clients in many of the largest and most complex commercial and investment treaty arbitrations, and has grown over the past decade to include more than 80 senior lawyers based in New York, Washington, Brussels, Frankfurt, Cologne, Rome, Milan, Paris, London and Hong Kong,” Cleary Gottlieb Managing Partner Mark Leddy said in a statement.

Kreindler has experience in Europe, the U.S., Asia and the Middle East, representing clients in disputes under all of the institutional and ad hoc arbitration regimes, and serves regularly as presiding arbitrator, party arbitrator, and expert witness, the firm said. He has experience in commercial arbitration as well as disputes in the public international law arena, including multilateral and bilateral investment treaty based arbitrations.

Cleary Gottlieb has more than 1,200 lawyers worldwide.

Rockefeller Group CEO Joins Proskauer Rose in New York

Proskauer Rose LLP announced that Kevin R. Hackett, who was president and chief executive officer of the Rockefeller Group, joined the firm as a member of the private-equity real estate practice in the New York office.

Hackett joined the Rockefeller Group in 2004 as chief operating officer of the subsidiary Rockefeller Group Development Corp., becoming chief executive officer of that company in 2007 and assuming his most recent position in 2009, the firm said.

“His real estate expertise on both the business and investment side is at the highest level and will be a tremendous asset to our clients,” Proskauer Chairman Joseph M. Leccese said in a statement.

Proskauer has lawyers at 13 offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

News

M&A Slows as Stock Market Rally Fails to Spark 2013 Comeback

A healthy stock market and cheap debt have traditionally been two ingredients that helped fueled booms in mergers and acquisitions. The recipe isn’t quite working this year.

Instead, the ingredients may paradoxically be prolonging a lull in transactions, say investment bankers and lawyers, many of whom had predicted a deal-making comeback in 2013. Higher stock prices, coupled with a shaky recovery, have made some executives wary of overpaying for acquisitions, or selling too cheaply. And some potential targets have tapped cheap credit to win a lifeline and stay independent.

“If I go through my checklist of what needs to be in place to enable M&A to happen, I can put a tick in many of the key boxes,” said Mark Warham, head of mergers and acquisitions for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Barclays Plc. “Yet so far we haven’t seen a real intensity of deals this year.”

While transactions worldwide reached about $490 billion in the second quarter, up 3 percent from the previous three months, they were down about 10 percent compared with the same period in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The sustained runup in stock market prices has made it more challenging in many situations for cash buyers like private-equity firms to put together deals that make financial sense,” said Lee Meyerson, head of the M&A group at law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

At the same time, the buoyant market also pushed some private-equity firms to take their portfolio companies public to get a better valuation than in a sale, said John Eydenberg, co-head of America’s investment banking and head of financial sponsors for Deutsche Bank AG.

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Texas Filibuster Star Rose From Teen Mom to Harvard Law Graduate

Texas lawmakers returned to Austin yesterday for another attempt to put the state at the forefront of a Republican-led push to legislate away abortion, resuming a fight that made state Senator Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, into an overnight sensation last week.

Davis, who went from teenage single mother to Harvard Law graduate, shot to fame as she tried to block new abortion limits with a filibuster. Barred from restroom breaks, drinking water, sitting or even leaning on her desk, she held the floor more than 11 hours as word of her marathon monologue spread over the Internet.

Davis, 50, and party colleagues joined by raucous spectators in the galleries, prevented a vote on a bill that would have shut almost all the state’s abortion clinics and banned the procedure after 20 weeks. The same measure tops the agenda in a new special session, prompting a pledge from thousands to rally against it at the Capitol.

Support from Republicans who control the Legislature means the Democrats’ victory probably will be short-lived. More important to abortion-rights advocates is what Davis may represent: a newly awakened voter bloc rebelling over what they see as government overreach into health-care decisions made by women in consultation with their families and doctors.

Born poor with three siblings, Davis began working at 14 to help her single mother make ends meet. By 19 she had become a single mother herself, according to her website. Starting at a junior college to become a paralegal, she graduated first in her class at Texas Christian University and went on to Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

After nine years on the Fort Worth City Council, she won in an upset to take a Senate seat from a Republican incumbent in 2008. As a lawyer, she works for Cantey Hanger LP in Fort Worth on matters including litigation, real estate and regulation, according to the firm’s website. She spent more than five years as an executive in a real-estate title business in the city.

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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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