Weil Gotshal Tax Partner Sontag Joins Paul Weiss in N.Y.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP said Scott M. Sontag, formerly of Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, joined the firm as a partner in the tax department in the New York office.

Sontag will focus his practice on domestic and international transactions. He has previously structured and negotiated merger and acquisition transactions for private equity funds and their portfolio companies, as well as publicly held clients. He also advised clients on transactions involving the formation and acquisition of REITs and on real estate acquisitions, dispositions, and restructurings, according to his Weil biography.

His representative clients included Lehman Brothers Inc., Berkshire Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Co., the firm biography said. Sontag was among the Weil team advising commercial real-estate company Brookfield Property Partners LP, on its agreement to purchase U.S. industrial-property assets from Japan’s Kajima Corp. for $1.1 billion.

“Scott’s work in mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, private equity and real estate position him to make a significant contribution to our practice,” Jeffrey Samuels, co-chairman of the tax department, said in a statement.

Paul, Weiss has more than 800 lawyers at eight offices in North America, London and Asia.

Greenberg Traurig’s Global Gaming Group Adds Former GPI GC

Greenberg Traurig LLP has expanded its global gaming practice group with the addition of Laura McAllister Cox as a shareholder in Philadelphia. She joins the firm from Gaming Partners International Corp., where she was executive vice president and general counsel.

McAllister Cox will focus her practice on gaming-related corporate, regulatory, licensing and product compliance matters, as well as other legal matters, the firm said in a statement.

“Gaming in the northeastern sector of the country has a huge amount of momentum and having Laura geographically positioned easily to serve our clients will be highly beneficial,” Michael Lehr, managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Philadelphia office, said in the statement.

Greenberg Traurig’s global gaming practice group focuses on casino operations, as well as address lotteries, pari-mutuel wagering, charitable gaming and Internet gaming. The firm has about 1,750 attorneys at 36 offices in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Litigation

SAC’s Cohen Focus of Insider Trial as Martoma Rebuffs U.S.

Jury selection in the prosecution of Mathew Martoma, an ex-SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager, is set for Jan. 7. He is accused of benefiting the hedge fund by $276 million in trades of Wyeth and Elan Corp., using secret tips from a doctor supervising trials of an Alzheimer’s drug.

The U.S. said SAC reversed a bullish stance on the drugmakers, liquidating a $700 million position and selling the stocks short a few days after a 20-minute phone call between Martoma and SAC founder Steven Cohen in July 2008.

“Mathew continues to fight the charges and is preparing for trial,” his lawyer, Richard Strassberg, a partner at Goodwin Proctor LLP, said in an e-mail.

If convicted, Martoma, who has pleaded not guilty, faces as long as 20 years in prison on each of two securities-fraud counts and five years for a single conspiracy charge.

Pressure on Martoma, 39, to cooperate with the probe included an approach by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that made him faint in his own front yard, and an indictment unsealed in 2012 on the Friday before Christmas. A steady drumbeat of convictions of insider traders in the probe, including SAC portfolio manager Michael Steinberg last month, may have further ratcheted up the pressure ahead of the trial next week in Manhattan federal court.

Prosecutors in Martoma’s case plan to call two physicians who allegedly gave him inside information about drug tests and their disappointing results.

Martoma made a $9.3 million bonus from trades on the doctors’ information, the government claims.

The trial is expected to take three weeks, lawyers told U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, who is overseeing the case. Gardephe, a former prosecutor and civil litigator, was appointed to the bench in 2008 by President George W. Bush, a Republican.

While Martoma’s team has been quiet about trial strategy, pretrial motions filed in the case provide a glimpse of his planned defenses.

His lawyers asked Gardephe to allow the introduction of parts of Cohen’s testimony from a daylong deposition taken in 2012 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Martoma claimed Cohen’s testimony shows that SAC sold its Wyeth stock on the advice of Wayne Holman, a former SAC employee who left and started Ridgeback Capital Management LLC, and not because of anything Martoma said.

Martoma also asked Gardephe to order the U.S. to turn over communications between the government and the two cooperating doctors. Martoma claims that Sid Gilman and Joel Ross both initially told investigators they weren’t involved in passing inside information to him.

Martoma is also seeking to bar jurors from hearing that he fainted when confronted by two FBI agents outside his Boca Raton, Florida, home on Nov. 8, 2011. The government claims the reaction shows he was aware of his guilt. Martoma’s lawyers counter that the evidence would unfairly prejudice jurors against their client and that FBI questioning would naturally make someone anxious.

Gardephe hasn’t yet ruled on the requests.

Cohen, who hasn’t been charged, has said he did nothing wrong.

The case is U.S. v. Steinberg, 12-cr-00121, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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Deals

S&C Advises Fiat on $4.35 Billion Chrysler Control Deal

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP represented Fiat SpA (F), which secured full ownership of Chrysler Group LLC in a $4.35 billion agreement that will conserve the Italian company’s cash while creating a global carmaker with better scale to take on General Motors Co. (GM)

The S&C team was led by corporate partner Scott Miller, along with tax partners Andy Solomon and Davis Wang.

Fiat rose the most in almost five years in Milan trading after Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and its Italian parent, struck an accord to buy a 41.5 percent stake from a United Auto Workers retiree health-care trust. The No. 3 U.S. carmaker will put up most of the funding for the transaction, underscoring the CEO’s reputation as a dealmaker.

The agreement limits the amount of money that Turin-based Fiat must spend to take over and merge with Chrysler, which it helped rescue from bankruptcy almost five years ago. That puts the Italian company in a position to gain financial resources from the U.S. unit to help turn around unprofitable European operations.

In addition, Chrysler agreed to pay the trust $700 million in four annual installments, with the first to be made when the deal closes, which Fiat expects by Jan. 20. The Italian company said the money would come from cash on hand and that a share sale probably won’t be needed.

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News

Roberts Seeks to Restore Judiciary Funds Cut by Sequestration

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts said Congress should restore some of the money cut from the federal judiciary budget in 2013, which he said forced staff reductions and delayed trials.

“The future would be bleak” if federal court spending were frozen at the level required by the 5 percent spending cut, known as sequestration, that took effect in March, the chief justice said in his annual year-end report.

“The first consequence would be greater delays in resolving civil and criminal cases,” Roberts wrote. In criminal cases, “those consequences pose a genuine threat to public safety,” he wrote.

The judiciary takes up only 0.2 percent of all federal spending and started reducing costs on its own in 2004, the chief justice said. Since July 2011, federal courts cut staffing by 14 percent, to the lowest level since 1997, although caseloads have risen significantly during the last 16 years, Roberts wrote.

Congress added some money for the judiciary as part of an agreement reached in October to fund government operations. The courts are seeking a $7 billion budget for fiscal 2014 that would restore some staff and funding for programs including probation and pretrial services, as well as drug and mental-health testing and treatment, the chief justice said.

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Apple E-Books Monitor Should Be Free to Query Cook, U.S. Argues

Apple Inc. (AAPL) faces opposition from the U.S. in its bid to block an antitrust monitor appointed in a electronic books price-fixing case from interviewing top executives and directors, including chief executive officer Tim Cook and board member Al Gore.

The government said the monitor, former Justice Department inspector general and Goodwin Procter LLP partner Michael Bromwich, should be allowed to interview the company’s leaders, as such activities are “standard procedure in monitorships,” according to a filing Dec. 30 in Manhattan federal court. Bromwich was appointed in October by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote to evaluate Apple’s antitrust compliance policies.

The Cupertino, California-based technology company said in court papers filed in November that the monitor was operating in an “unfettered an inappropriate manner,” and was overstepping his authority by pressing for immediate interviews with senior management.

“Stripped of its blustery rhetoric and personal attacks, Apple’s motion is about its desire to shield its highest-level executives and board members from the perceived inconvenience of having to sit for these interviews,” Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed Dec. 30.

In a separate filing Dec. 30, Bromwich said that the company has provided him only with limited access to personnel during his investigation. When he made initial inquiries about interviewing senior leaders, one board member told him that the executives and directors were “very busy, and that we would see a ’lot of anger,’ about the case still existed within the company,” Bromwich said in his filing.

During the two months since his appointment, Bromwich said he has been permitted to interview only 11 people at the company, seven of whom were lawyers rather than business people. The monitor said he was given access to only one member of the board of directors and one executive.

The case is U.S. v. Apple Inc., 12-cv-02826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more, click here.

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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