Ropes & Gray, King & Spalding, Hogan: Business of Law

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP acted as legal adviser to Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, which agreed to buy a majority stake in Party City Corp. from its private-equity owners in a transaction valued at $2.69 billion.

Ropes & Gray LLP acted as legal adviser to the current owners, Advent International Corp., Berkshire Partners LLC, Weston Presidio and management, which will hold “significant” minority stakes, Thomas H. Lee said yesterday in a statement. Thomas H. Lee will own about 65 to 66 percent of the company, said a person familiar with the matter who declined to be identified because the details haven’t been made public.

The Weil partners were led by corporate department chairman Michael Aiello. Additional partners include Martin Pollack, tax; Andrew Gaines, benefits; and Kelly Dybala and Heather Emmel, finance.

The Ropes & Gray team included the following partners: Jane Goldstein, mergers and acquisitions; Chris Leich, tax; Sunil Savkar, debt finance; and Jonathan Zorn, benefits.

The purchase, Thomas H. Lee’s fourth this year, gives the Boston-based private-equity firm a chain with 1,200 owned and franchised stores in the U.S. and Canada and about 400 temporary Halloween stores, along with a wholesale business. Party City posted net income of $76.3 million last year on $1.87 billion in revenue, according to a prospectus filed on May 10.

In April, Party City filed to raise as much as $350 million in an IPO that hasn’t been completed. Party City was founded in 1947 as a wholesale party supplier. The retailer had $982.3 million of debt as of Dec 31, according to regulatory filings.

Thomas H. Lee manages $14 billion in assets and also has stakes in companies including Dunkin Brands Inc., Clear Channel Communications Inc. and Nielsen Holdings NV.

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Diana Weiss Joins PwC as General Counsel from King & Spalding

PwC US said Diana Weiss joined as general counsel from King & Spalding LLP, where she focused on professional liability and securities-related litigation and regulatory proceedings.

At King & Spalding, Weiss was a partner in the Washington office and a member of the litigation practice, focused on representing clients in investigations and enforcement proceedings before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and other regulatory agencies, as well as in litigation.

Weiss serves as co-chairman of the ABA’s Section on Litigation Subcommittee on Accountants’ Liability.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP is a Delaware limited liability partnership. PwC refers to the U.S. member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network.

Hogan Lovells Expands Health Practice with Bloomquist

Hogan Lovells LLP announced that Christine E. Bloomquist joined its Health practice in Washington as a partner. She was previously the chief health-care lobbyist for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, the firm said.

Bloomquist will focus her practice on advising pharmaceutical and medical device companies on fraud and abuse compliance and pricing issues, as well as on other regulatory and policy matters, including aspects of the Affordable Care Act, the firm said.

As a senior director for federal government affairs at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Bloomquist represented the company’s interests during the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act and during deficit reduction negotiations last year.

“Christie’s significant experience, skill set, and reputation within the industry will further enhance our ability to offer health regulatory compliance and fraud and abuse counseling to our pharmaceutical and medical device clients,” said Liz Dunst, partner with Hogan Lovells’s health practice.

Hogan Lovells has more than 2,300 lawyers at more than 40 offices in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

K&L Gates Expands Milan Office with DLA Piper Lawyers

K&L Gates LLP hired former DLA Piper LLP lawyers Francesco Sanna and Andrea Pinto as partners in its Milan office, where they will lead the firm’s Italian real estate and finance/banking efforts, the firm said. Two associates also joined the firm.

Sanna focuses his practice in real-estate investment and development, as well as in projects and infrastructure, while Pinto concentrates in the areas of acquisition finance, real estate and project financing, and debt restructuring.

“Their capabilities are an ideal complement to the office’s current sectors of activity,” Giampaolo Salsi, administrative partner of the Milan office, said in a statement.

K&L Gates established its Milan office in February through a combination with Marini Salsi Picciau Studio Legale. With the additions, the office includes 15 lawyers, five of whom are partners.

K&L Gates has almost 2,000 lawyers in 41 offices in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East.


SEC Names Two Deputies to Help Lead Hedge Fund Enforcement Unit

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s asset management unit named deputies Julie Riewe and Marshall Sprung to help manage investigations into possible misconduct at hedge funds and private equity firms.

Riewe and Sprung, who have both worked in the 75-person group since it was formed in 2010, will jointly fill a vacancy left by the departure of Robert Kaplan, according to Bruce Karpati, chief of the asset management enforcement group.

Kaplan, who had been co-chief of the unit with Karpati, joined law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

Riewe, 41, joined the SEC in 2005 from law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP. Since then, she has worked on cases involving hedge funds, conflicts of interest, and asset valuation, as well as an insider trading case against Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. The case has been contested for about three years.

Sprung, 40, came to the SEC from law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in 2003 and has handled investigations involving conflicts of interest and valuation that affect retail investors. Sprung, who is based in the SEC’s regional office in Los Angeles, was part of the agency’s investigation into the concealment of a coding error in an Axa Rosenberg Group LLC investment model that led to the repayment of $217 million in losses to investors and a $25 million fine.

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Gupta’s Judge Trades Quips With Lawyer as Blankfein Calls Board

The Jed-and-Gary show was on hiatus yesterday, Bloomberg News’ David Glovin, Patricia Hurtado and Sara Forden report.

With Rajat Gupta’s insider-trading trial on hold for a day as U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff gave a speech in Washington, the 12 jurors and two alternatives had to look elsewhere for humor. Rakoff and his longtime friend, defense attorney Gary Naftalis, dished out a lot of it June 4 in their current venue, Manhattan’s federal Courtroom 14B.

As lunch hour neared and Naftalis, of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, pushed ahead with his cross-examination of a government witness, Rakoff interrupted.

“I don’t meant to cut you off, Mr. Naftalis, and the fact that the jury is getting hungry for their lunch shouldn’t deter you in any respects,” he said. Jurors laughed.

When the same witness was confused by Naftalis’s reference to a list that had been placed into evidence as Exhibit 1786, Rakoff clarified that it was a document number, not a birthdate.

“Even I wasn’t born in 1786,” Naftalis, 70, offered.

“So you allege,” answered Rakoff, 68.

From the jurors, more laughter.

The two were at it again when Naftalis asked the witness, former McKinsey & Co. director Anil Kumar, to testify about the Indian School of Business, which he and Gupta co-founded. Naftalis wanted Kumar to compare the school’s reputation with that of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Harvard Business School. Rakoff cut him off, saying it was irrelevant.

“Maybe I should ask about Yale?” Naftalis offered.

Laughter, again.

Gupta, who ran McKinsey from 1994 to 2003 and was a director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co., is accused of leaking tips to Galleon Group LLC co-founder Raj Rajaratnam. Gupta has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud, which carries a maximum 20-year prison term.

To prove that Gupta had a motive to leak tips, prosecutors have stressed that the two men co-founded an investment firm -- Taj Capital, later renamed New Silk Route LLC, focusing on South Asia. The defense claims Rajaratnam’s interest in the firm faded because it started only a private-equity fund, and not a separate hedge fund.

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

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Firm News

Government Affairs Firm Now Called Davidoff Hutcher & Citron

New York government affairs firm Davidoff Malito & Hutcher LLP has changed its name to Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP.

“We are very pleased to announce the change in our firm’s name to add Jeff Citron,” Sid Davidoff, who specializes in city and state agency work and co-founded the firm, said in a statement. “Larry Hutcher and Jeff have done a superb job as co-managing partners for a number of years and now our new name reflects their efforts.”

Robert Malito left the firm, according to the statement.

Citron, co-managing partner and chairman of the real estate group, is responsible for all aspects of the firm’s administrative and management functions, according to the statement.

The other name partner, Hutcher, co-managing partner and chairman of the litigation group, has been with the firm since its inception in 1975. Hutcher has expertise in the field of ‘business divorce,’ representing shareholders, partners and LLC members in the resolution of ownership disputes and other intra-corporate issues, the firm said.

“Our new name reflects our growth and evolution over the years into a multidisciplined, full-service law firm to better serve our clients’ needs,” Citron said. “Our firm offers all aspects of business law, commercial litigation, government relations and lobbying, real estate, trusts and estates, matrimonial and family law and administrative law matters.”

The firm has 48 attorneys, 15 of them partners, in offices in New York, Albany, Washington and Garden City, Long Island.

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