Skadden, S&C, Minter Ellison, MoFo, Crowell: Business of Law

Prudential Plc, the U.K.’s biggest insurer, agreed to buy a life insurance unit from Swiss Re AG for 398 million pounds ($621 million) in cash to expand in the U.S.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP represented Prudential subsidiary Jackson National Life Insurance Co., while Sullivan & Cromwell LLP represented Swiss Re.

Skadden partners on the deal included Robert Sullivan, in the financial institutions group in New York; Todd Freed, in mergers and acquisitions in New York; and Chris Ulery, in the mergers and acquisitions practice in Washington.

Sullivan & Cromwell’s New York-based team includes corporate partners Stephen Kotran and Andrew Rowen as well as partner David Spitzer on tax matters.

Prudential will finance the acquisition of SRLC America Holding Corp., which manages closed life insurance funds, from existing cash holdings, the London-based company said in a statement yesterday. The purchase is expected to be completed in the third quarter, pending regulatory approval, it said.

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Downing Said to Resign From Justice Department Tax Post

Kevin Downing, the Justice Department prosecutor who directed the U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion, resigned effective June 4, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Downing, 46, was the lead prosecutor in the U.S. probe of UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank. In February 2009, UBS avoided prosecution by paying $780 million, admitting it helped thousands of Americans evade taxes and turning over the names of 250 American clients to U.S. authorities. UBS later revealed another 4,450 accounts.

The U.S. has since charged about 50 U.S. taxpayers with tax crimes and about two dozen offshore bankers, lawyers and advisers. Those indicted include seven current and former bankers from Credit Suisse Group AG, the second-largest Swiss bank. More than 33,000 Americans avoided prosecution by voluntarily disclosing offshore accounts to the Internal Revenue Service.

“Kevin did quite a good job,” said tax attorney William M. Sharp of Sharp Kemm PA of Zurich and Tampa, Florida. “He certainly led the charge in the offshore crackdown.”

Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department, declined to comment on the resignation. The person familiar with the matter declined to be identified and wasn’t authorized to talk about the resignation.

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Dewey Collapse Pits Lawyers Versus Lawyers in Years-Long Battle

Creditors waiting to know if and when they will get paid by Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP may want to consult the case of Coudert Brothers LLP, the law firm that filed for bankruptcy in 2006.

Almost six years later, lawsuits related to Coudert Brothers collapse are still wending their way through the courts, with a federal judge ruling on May 24 that former partners may be on the hook for revenue from cases they took with them to their new jobs.

Unwinding Dewey, which filed for protection from creditors on May 28, marking the biggest bankruptcy in the legal business, probably will be even more complex, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its June 4 issue.

The product of a 2007 merger between Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, the mega-practice at one point had more than 1,300 attorneys spanning 12 countries. The firm, based in New York, fell apart in a matter of weeks this year after ousting its chairman and watching at least 250 of its 304 partners decamp to competing firms.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the wind-down took a minimum of six to seven years,” said Edwin Reeser, a former managing partner for the Los Angeles office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. “It could take 10.”

With few assets except their bills and partners, law firms’ liquidations tend to be drawn out and contentious. “They don’t have much of anything -- other than perhaps some lawsuits --once their moneymakers leave,” said Stephen Lubben, a bankruptcy law professor at Seton Hall University School of Law.

Lawsuits filed by the bankrupt estate can delay the process, especially when the defendants are lawyers. Heller Ehrman LLP, which collapsed in 2008, and Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP, which dissolved in 2003, are still in the process of being unwound.

“Their profession is fighting this stuff, and they’re like professional boxers,” said Chip Bowles, a bankruptcy lawyer with the firm Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP in Louisville, Kentucky.

Dewey owes bank lenders and bondholders $225 million, according to its May 28 filings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Outstanding bills to clients in the U.S., carried on the books at $255 million, may be collected at the rate of about $3 million to $7 million a week and may never be paid in full, Dewey said.

The case is In re Dewey & LeBoeuf, 12-12321, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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Firm News

Minter Ellison SA/NT Names Bannister Managing Partner

Adam Bannister was appointed managing partner of law firm Minter Ellison SA/NT in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

He will replace Nigel McBride, who is stepping down from the position after 12 years.

Bannister, who joined the firm in 2003, heads the dispute resolution team in Adelaide and is a member of the Minter Ellison board.

“In a very competitive market, Adam has led and grown our dispute resolution practice into one of the most successful practice areas for the firm,” Minter Ellison Chairman Wayne Jackson said. Bannister takes over amid expected growth in South Australia’s energy and resources, infrastructure and government procurement sectors, according to the firm.


Morrison & Foerster Hires New Partners to Lead Departments

Morrison & Foerster LLP hired two new partners in the past week who will hold leadership roles at the law firm. Bradley D. Wine will be co-chairman of the firm’s government contracts group and Jonathan M.A. Melmed will head the private-equity practice in New York.

Wine, formerly a Dickstein Shapiro LLP government contracts partner, will be in the Washington office, Morrison & Foerster said in a statement. He has experience representing government contractors and other businesses with a focus on civil litigation, compliance and client counseling. He has special expertise in investigations and alleged violations of the False Claims Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and defective pricing and export licensing matters.

Melmed, previously a partner with Chadbourne & Park LLP and head of its Canada practice, represents private equity funds and portfolio companies, along with hedge funds, public companies and investment banks, in merger and acquisition deals and other transactions, Morrison & Foerster said. He has experience in the alternative energy, infrastructure, media, telecommunications and life sciences sectors.

Morrison & Foerster has more than 1,000 lawyers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Quinn Emanuel Hires Sixth International Arbitration Specialist

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP hired Tai-Heng Cheng, who will join the firm’s New York office as a partner in its international arbitration practice.

Cheng, a former law professor at New York Law School and co-director of its Institute for Global Law, Justice, and Policy, is the sixth international arbitration specialist to join Quinn Emanuel in the past nine months, the firm said in a statement.

Cheng has served as counsel, tribunal chairman, arbitrator and expert in investor-state disputes and international commercial arbitrations.

Quinn Emanuel announced three new arbitration hires earlier this month. Two Allen & Overy LLP arbitration partners, including Stephen Jagusch, head of that firm’s international arbitration practice, were hired to join Quinn Emanuel’s London office. David Orta joined from Arnold & Porter LLP as head of the Washington office’s international arbitration practice.

Ivan Marisin, former head of dispute resolution practice at Dechert LLP, and partner Vasily Kuznetsov were hired by Quinn Emanuel in October.

Quinn Emanuel has more than 600 lawyers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Crowell & Moring Adds FDA Lawyer in Washington Office

Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration lawyer John H. Fuson joined Crowell & Moring LLP’s Washington office as a partner in the health-care, product risk management, white collar and regulatory enforcement and intellectual property groups.

Fuson, who joined the FDA in 2007, was an associate chief counsel, working with the U.S. Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch. He brought enforcement actions on behalf of the FDA, Crowell & Moring said in a statement.

Fuson handled FDA enforcement actions, including seizure and injunction actions, pursuit of civil money penalties, and contempt cases. He also counseled the agency on its enforcement strategy for device, drug and food manufacturers, the firm said.

“Crowell & Moring has a premier regulatory and litigation practice,” Fuson said in a statement. “The FDA regulates over $1 trillion of the U.S. economy -- about 25 percent of consumer spending -- and our ability to provide comprehensive risk management counsel and knowledgeable representation in investigations and litigation is essential to our clients.”

Crowell & Moring has about 500 lawyers representing clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and transactional matters in the U.S. and Europe.


Goldman CEO Blankfein to Testify at Gupta Trial, U.S. Says

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein will testify at the insider-trading trial of the bank’s former director Rajat Gupta, Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky said.

With jurors briefly out of the courtroom yesterday, Brodsky told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan that prosecutors would call Blankfein as their next-to-last witness in a prosecution case that may wrap up on June 6. Brodsky didn’t say what Blankfein would testify about.

Blankfein testified at last year’s trial of Galleon Group LLC co-founder Raj Rajaratnam, to whom Gupta is accused of leaking inside information. Rajaratnam was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Gupta denies wrongdoing.

At Rajaratnam’s trial, Blankfein said Gupta violated Goldman Sachs’s confidentiality policies by allegedly telling Rajaratnam about the firm’s earnings and strategic plans.

Defense attorney Gary Naftalis identified likely defense witnesses as well, listing Gupta family members and Gupta’s personal assistant and saying he planned on reading deposition testimony from Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s reinsurance chief, Ajit Jain, a close friend of Gupta’s. Naftalis said he didn’t know yet whether Gupta would testify on his own behalf.

Gupta, who ran McKinsey & Co. from 1994 to 2003, is on trial for leaking tips about Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble Co., where he was also a director. One of the alleged tips involved a Berkshire Hathaway investment in Goldman Sachs. Gupta has pleaded not guilty.

In listing defense witnesses, Naftalis named individuals including Rick Schutte, Galleon’s former U.S. president; Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria; and Gregory Orman. Naftalis didn’t say what the witnesses would testify about.

The case is U.S. v. Gupta, 11-cr-00907, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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