Baker & McKenzie, SNR Denton, Jones Day: Business of Law

Baker & McKenzie LLP’s latest outpost will open on Aug. 1 in Casablanca, Morocco, a city of 4 million people where the firm’s new lawyers will focus on corporate deals and disputes in North Africa. It will be the Baker & McKenzie’s third office in Africa and 71st globally.

Kamal Nasrollah, a partner who joins Baker & McKenzie with about four other lawyers from Paris-based August & Debouzy, will lead the office. Nasrollah opened August & Debouzy’s Casablanca office in 2007, and previously worked in Paris, New York and London for Sullivan & Cromwell, Baker & McKenzie said.

Nasrollah and his team have advised on corporate deals and disputes in Morocco as well as on cross-border work, particularly with North African, West African and Middle Eastern countries. The team, based in Casablanca and Paris, also has experience with large-scale cross-border projects and corporate reorganizations, the firm said.

Casablanca will be Baker & McKenzie’s fourth new office in the past 18 months. In addition to Johannesburg in May, it recently opened offices in Istanbul and Doha. The first African office opened in Cairo in 1985.

“We are deeply committed to Africa and to clients who do business on this fast-rising continent,” Eduardo Leite, chairman of Baker & McKenzie’s executive committee said in a statement. “Africa now accounts for almost a quarter of the world’s foreign direct investment. This strong Casablanca team, together with our highly regarded teams in Cairo and Johannesburg, further enhances our ability to help clients navigate with confidence in the region.”

Led by the Paris office, Baker & McKenzie has advised clients on matters in the French-speaking nations of North and West Africa and on transactions across a range of industries, including energy, natural resources, healthcare, IT and telecommunications, among others.

Baker & McKenzie has more than 3,800 locally qualified lawyers and over 5,800 professional staff in 71 offices in 44 countries.

SNR Denton Names Co-Head of Insurance Regulatory Practice

SNR Denton LLP announced that Bruce Baty has been named co-head of the firm’s insurance regulatory practice. He joins Kara Baysinger as co-leader of the U.S. practice, which is part of the firm’s global insurance sector team.

“Bruce is widely recognized in the insurance regulatory field for his vast experience advising clients on a host of regulatory compliance issues, including financial and market conduct examinations to Holding Company Act compliance and licensing,” Mike McNamara, SNR Denton’s U.S. managing partner said. “We are confident that in this new role Bruce will continue to strengthen our dynamic, market-leading practice.”

Baty’s practice focuses on representing insurance companies, reinsurance companies, producers and third-party administrators in property and casualty and life, accident and health insurance matters. In addition to insurance regulatory matters, Baty has also represented companies in litigation and arbitration as well as transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, product development and approval, insolvency issues, and reinsurance programs. He also counsels corporate clients on the scope and structure of their insurance coverage, the firm said.

SNR Denton has 16 U.S. offices, and a total of 60 locations including associate firms and special alliances world-wide.


U.S. Antitrust Criminal Enforcement Head Joins A&O

Allen & Overy LLP hired John Terzaken, the director of criminal enforcement for the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division, a partner in the firm’s global antitrust practice.

He will be based in the firm’s Washington office where he will lead the cartel defense practice in the U.S., advising both domestic and international clients on antitrust criminal investigations and litigation.

Terzaken handled many high-profile global cartel investigations during his tenure at the Justice Department including the auto parts, LIBOR, LCD and air cargo investigations, the firm said.

“We are an established global, elite antitrust practice and being joined by a leading global figure such as John further strengthens our ability to service our clients across the three main antitrust hubs in Washington, Brussels and Beijing,” Olivier Fréget, head of the global antitrust practice, said in a statement.

Allen & Overy plans to strengthen its U.S. antitrust practice. The firm has over 100 antitrust lawyers internationally. Brussels-based antitrust partner Michael J. Reynolds will be spending a significant part of his time in the firm’s Washington office, in order to accelerate the development and integration of the antitrust practice across the firm’s 40 offices in 28 countries, the firm said.

Terzaken joined the department’s criminal antitrust section in June 2004, was appointed its assistant chief in November 2008 and named director two years later.

As director, he had management responsibility for the antitrust division’s criminal investigations and litigation nationwide, including reviewing, approving, and overseeing investigations and prosecutions recommended by the eight Justice Department offices responsible for criminal antitrust enforcement, the firm said.

Allen & Overy has approximately 4,750 staff, including some 512 partners, working in 40 offices worldwide.

Jones Day Hires Banking & Finance Law Partner Bruce Moorhead

Jones Day said Bruce W. Moorhead Jr. joined the firm as a banking and finance practice partner based in Atlanta. He was previously a partner with Hunton & Williams LLP, the firm said.

Moorhead’s practice focuses on the representation of financial institutions in leveraged and asset-based lending transactions and in workouts and bankruptcies. He has experience in bank and non-bank financing, with a focus on leveraged lending and cross-border financing, the firm said.

Moorhead, who will also work out of the New York office, represents financial institutions and intermediaries such as administrative and collateral agents in connection with syndicated loans, leveraged acquisition lending, cash flow lending, asset-based lending, and cross-border financing as well as resolution of problem loans, debtor-in-possession financing, and exit financing facilities.

“Bruce’s work for lenders in the area of asset based finance and leveraged finance, as well as his particular skills in important areas like DIP facilities and cross-border financings, will make him a very welcome addition to our global practice,” Brett Barragate, co-leader of Jones Day’s banking and finance practice said in a statement.

Jones Day has more than 2,400 lawyers at 35 offices world-wide.


‘Modern Family’ Resembles ‘Family Feud’ in Actor Pay Dispute

“Modern Family” is looking more like “Family Feud” after actors in the most watched comedy on U.S. television sued producer Twentieth Century Fox Television, threatening summer filming in a fight over pay and outside work.

Jeffery D. McFarland, a partner with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP in Los Angeles, is representing Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell and other cast members who are asking a California judge to void contracts that cap pay and bar outside work just ahead of the show’s planned fourth season, according to a complaint filed yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

A ruling is necessary “to avoid the hardship caused on the parties by a protracted dispute and further delay” in light of the new season, lawyers for the actors said in the complaint against the producer, a unit of News Corp. The contracts violate state labor law prohibiting some agreements for services lasting more than seven years, according to the filing.

The suit pits the actors against a producer they claim bars them from working elsewhere while locking them into single-digit pay raises. The success of “Modern Family,” the biggest show on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC broadcast network and central to its effort to draw viewers to new shows in September, “has been built upon a collection of illegal contracts,” the actors said.

The contract for Vergara, 40, limits per-episode compensation increases each year to 5 percent, while cast members Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Burrell and Bowen are entitled to 4 percent more annually, according to the complaint.

The actors also said they are barred from seeking roles outside the program without Fox’s consent.

Chris Alexander, a spokesman for Twentieth Century Fox Television in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Vergara v. Twentieth Century Fox, BC488786, Los Angeles County Superior Court (Los Angeles).


Securities Suits Decreased in First Half of 2012, Study Finds

Federal securities class actions decreased in the first half of 2012 compared with last year largely because of a decline in Chinese reverse mergers and the lowest number of mergers and acquisitions since the third quarter of 2009, according to a study.

According to the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse and Cornerstone Research, 88 federal securities class-action, or group lawsuits were filed in the first six months of this year, a reduction of 6 percent from both the first half and second half of 2011.

Stanford Law School and Cornerstone reported five securities class actions filed over the reverse-mergers in the first half of the year, a 79 percent decline compared with the same period last year, and seven such filings related to mergers and acquisitions in the past six months, a 67 percent decline from the same period in 2011.

The decline in filings stemming from Chinese reverse mergers isn’t a surprise because “that sector of the market has already been badly hit by concerns over the integrity of Chinese private-company financial statements and these deals have been disappearing from the market,” Joseph Grundfest, a professor at Stanford Law School, said in an e-mailed statement.

While class actions over such Chinese deals dropped, filings against foreign issuers as a percentage of all lawsuits were greater than every year since 1997, with the exception of last year, according to the study.

Future filings may result from allegations of Libor rigging, according to Grundfest.

Regulators in the U.S. and Europe are probing more than a dozen banks worldwide over allegations they manipulated Libor, a benchmark for financial products valued at $360 trillion worldwide. Investigators are examining whether traders colluded to rig the rate for profit and whether banks understated their borrowing costs to appear healthier than they were.

“The magnitude of the potential exposures and the complexity of the underlying damages claims will likely generate large amounts of litigation activity in many geographies,” Grundfest said in the statement.

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