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Freshfields, Covington, Clifford Chance: Business of Law

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP revenue fell by about 0.9 percent to 1.13 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) for the 2011-12 financial year, dropping it to the rank of fourth-largest London-based law firm by revenue.

Linklaters LLP held onto the No. 2 slot among the so-called magic circle of London’s largest law firms with revenue rising 0.6 percent to 1.2 billion over the same period.

Of the four magic circle firms that disclose financial information, Freshfields and Linklaters did the worst compared with the previous year. Clifford Chance retained the top spot among the group as revenue rose to 1.3 billion on a significant increase in Asia work. Allen & Overy LLP posted a 6 percent rise in revenue to 1.18 billion pounds, moving it ahead of Freshfields to the three slot behind Linklaters.

At Freshfields, “our biggest immediate priority is how we react to developments in the euro zone,” Chief Executive Officer Ted Burke said. “A significant amount of our business is in the euro zone and the depreciation of the euro has impacted us.”

Linklaters signed an exclusivity agreement in April with Sydney-based Allens Arthur Robinson that includes a joint venture in Asia, making the firm “very comfortable with the size that we are now and the way we are building the business,” Simon Davies, managing partner at Linklaters, said in a phone interview.

The “focus is on quality and that may not necessarily lead to us opening everywhere,” Davies said. “We are trying to look at it in a more sophisticated way by being more selective.”

Uncertainty over the euro continues to affect deal activity in the 17-nation group, both men acknowledged. Spain agreed in June to take a rescue loan of as much as 100 billion euros to help recapitalize its banking sector. Merger and acquisition work makes up around 40 percent of business for Linklaters, Davies said.

Slaughter and May, the fifth member of the magic circle, isn’t a limited liability partnership and doesn’t release its financial details.

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IP Litigator Julie Petruzzelli Joins Baker & McKenzie

IP litigator Julie A. Petruzzelli has joined Baker & McKenzie LLP as a partner in Washington. Petruzzelli has more than 25 years of experience in all aspects of intellectual property litigation, counseling, and licensing. She was previously a partner at Venable LLP, where she had been the head of that firm’s technology division and its IP litigation practice group, the firm said.

Petruzzelli has handled a variety of complex litigations, including patent, trade secret, trademark and copyright. She has developed and implemented IP strategies for large and small domestic and international corporations. Recently, Petruzzelli’s practice has focused on representing companies in Asia, especially in Japan, the firm said.

“Julie is an excellent addition to our North American and global practices, which encompass more than 470 attorneys worldwide,” said Kevin O’Brien, chairman of the firm’s North America intellectual property practice. “Our clients continue to face a variety of threats to their IP assets, and companies will appreciate Julie’s excellent credentials, especially combined with the experience of our strong regional IP team.”

Baker & McKenzie has more than 3,800 lawyers in 70 offices in 43 countries.

Covington Hires Former Northrop Counsel in Washington

Covington & Burling LLP is bolstering its government contracts practice by adding former Northrop Grumman Corporation counsel Susan Cassidy as a partner in its Washington office.

While at defense contractor Northrop Grumman, Cassidy was senior counsel in the company’s Information Systems Sector, supporting both the Intelligence and Defense markets, the firm said. Most recently, she served as the lead counsel for the Defense Technologies Division. In this role, she provided government contracts legal advice in support of a variety of programs, including those involving missile defense integration, enterprise IT infrastructure solutions, cybersecurity, combat systems integration, identity management and biometrics, and cloud computing, according to the firm.

“Susan has an unusual breadth of experience in the government contracts field -- including litigation, advisory and transactional matters,” said Timothy Hester, chairman of the firm’s management committee. “Her in-house experience at a leading defense contractor will provide unique insights into the needs of government contractors in today’s competitive defense environment, and will be a strong complement to our many practice areas that can provide high-value services to clients in this industry.”

This is Covington’s second recent high-profile addition to the government contracts practice. Robert Nichols joined the firm as co-chairman of the government contracts practice in April.

Covington has eight offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.


Clifford Chance Advises Chalieco on Its $184 Million IPO

Clifford Chance LLP advised China Aluminum International Engineering Corporation Limited (Chalieco) on its IPO which listed June 6, the firm said in a statement. Paul Hastings LLP represented CICC and GF Securities as the joint bookrunners and joint lead managers on the deal.

Chalieco issued 363,160,000 H shares at HK$3.93 ($0.51) each. The IPO raised approximately HK$1.427 billion ($184 million). China International Capital Corporation Hong Kong Securities Limited and GF Securities (Hong Kong) Brokerage Limited acted as joint bookrunners, according to Clifford Chance.

Clifford Chance Beijing partner Tim Wang, who led on the deal said, “I am delighted we could assist Chalieco with this IPO. Despite global economic uncertainties, we continue to assist with several equity capital markets deals, including the biggest Hong Kong IPO so far this year for Haitong Securities, raising US$1.68 billion.”

Wang was supported by firm associates as well as Shanghai partner Jean Thio, who provided U.S. legal advice.

The Paul Hastings team was led by Raymond Li, partner and chairman of Greater China, and capital markets partners Sammy Li and David Grimm.

Chalieco is a technology, engineering service and equipment provider in the nonferrous metals industry in China. The company provides engineering solutions throughout various stages of the nonferrous metals industry chain, the firm said. Businesses included engineering design and consultancy, engineering and construction contracting and equipment manufacturing. Chinalco is the controlling shareholder of the company.

Firm News

Weintraub Genshlea, Weissman Wolff Merge as 70-Lawyer Firm

Weintraub Genshlea Chediak Tobin & Tobin LC and entertainment firm Weissmann Wolff Bergman Coleman Grodin LLP have announced the merger of their law firms to form Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin LC.

Weintraub Tobin will have more than 70 attorneys in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The firm will focus on entertainment and its convergence with technology and finance. Key practice areas include: corporate, banking, securities, employment, litigation and dispute resolution, intellectual property, tax, trusts and estate planning, real estate and bankruptcy, the firm said in a statement.

“After our successful expansion in the San Francisco market with the merger of Tobin & Tobin late last year, we turned our eyes toward Los Angeles and found a firm that mirrors our culture and complements our specialty practice areas,” said Michael Kvarme, Weintraub Tobin’s managing shareholder. “The combination with Weissmann Wolff offers clients a fully integrated team of business attorneys that are held in high esteem by the entertainment industry.”

The Los Angeles office will continue to advise entertainment industry clients in film, television, animation, video games, digital media and publishing including Scholastic, Random House, Warner Bros. and NBC/Universal.

Through the San Francisco office, entertainment clients will have access to the legal expertise and relationships established with technology groups, the firm said.

“The combined capabilities and expanded services of the firm benefit our clients in that we now have a larger geographical reach and further depth in meeting all of their business needs,” Marvin Gelfand, managing partner for Weissmann Wolff said.


Dynegy Inc. Files for Bankruptcy in Plan to Merge With Unit

Dynegy Inc., a Houston-based power producer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Poughkeepsie, New York, as part of a plan to reorganize.

Dynegy will merge with its Dynegy Holdings unit, which is already in bankruptcy, under the plan, the Houston-based company said in a statement June 6. The board met June 5 at a special meeting to vote on the filing after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Cecelia Morris said at a July 2 hearing that she would approve the unit’s so-called disclosure statement.

The company’s lawyers are the New York-based law firm White & Case LLP. Its financial advisers are Lazard Freres & Co.

The unit’s plan will pay bondholders between 59 cents and 89 cents on the dollar, the power producer has said. Dynegy put the unit into bankruptcy last year.

Under the proposal approved by Morris, the holdings unit will merge with the parent company and creditors will own 99 percent of the combined entity. The plan is the result of a settlement with creditors following a court-ordered investigation into asset transfers.

Dynegy listed assets of more than $11 billion and liabilities of over $5 billion in the July 6 bankruptcy filing. Under the reorganization plan, the company’s assets will be held under the parent company.

The company’s subsidiaries that own and operate its coal-fired and gas-fired businesses weren’t included in the filing July 6 because they were financed last year, Dynegy said. The case is In re Dynegy Inc., 12-36728, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Poughkeepsie).

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