Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- White & Case LLP hired mergers and acquisitions lawyer Daniel Dufner as a partner in the firm’s New York office. Dufner, who joins from Linklaters LLP, was previously a partner at White & Case from 2004 to 2009. Dufner represented WellPoint Inc. in its $4.9 billion acquisition of Amerigroup Corp. He has also represented EchoStar Corp., Dish Network Corp. and Blockbuster Entertainment Corp., the firm said.
Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP hired Barry A. Bohrer and Lisa A. Prager as partners and Lara Covington as special counsel in the litigation practice. The group comes from Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer PC. Bohrer, who has experience handling white-collar, complex civil and securities enforcement matters, will reside in the New York office. Prager, who has expertise in government investigations and enforcement actions relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, anti-money laundering laws and export controls, was head of the Morvillo Abramowitz Washington office. At SRZ, she will split her time between Washington and New York. Covington, who practices in the areas of FCPA, export controls and government contract issues, will also be based in Washington.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP hired Allison R. Liff in its New York office as a partner in the banking and finance practice group. Liff joins the firm from Goldman Sachs, where she was managing director and associate general counsel responsible for leveraged finance, middle market financing, restructuring, and the bank debt portfolio group, the firm said. Liff was an associate in Weil’s banking and finance practice group in the corporate department, before joining Goldman.
Lane Powell PC added partner Brenna Legaard, previously with Chernoff Vilhauer LLP, and two other attorneys to its intellectual property practice group. Legaard has experience with patent and trademark litigation and counseling in consumer goods, wireless technology and medical devices, the firm said. The firm has been expanding its IP practice. In addition to the recent addition of three lawyers, Lane Powell has added two IP portfolio developers and three patent attorneys in the last year. Frances Jagla, formerly a senior attorney with Abbott Laboratories, and Microsoft, and Alan Minsk, formerly patent counsel with Openwave Systems and Intellectual Ventures, joined in Seattle as partners. Gregory Wesner, previously with Frommer Lawrence & Haug LLP, also joined the firm as a partner in Seattle in the last year.
Bird & Bird LLP hired Joerg Paura as partner in its international corporate group. Joerg, who joins the Hamburg office on April 1 from Hogan Lovells LLP, brings along a team of two counsel. Paura specializes in corporate law, M&A, corporate finance, restructuring and insolvency, the firm said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky will be joining Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, a spokeswoman with the firm said. Brodsky prosecuted former Galleon Group hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam and former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta, and other defendants in a widespread insider trading scheme. The spokeswoman said the firm wasn’t ready to make the formal announcement yet.
A Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP white-collar partner is leaving his firm to join the U.S. Attorney’s office, the New York Times reported. Joon Kim joined Cleary Gottlieb in 1997 and became a partner in 2009, according to his firm bio. He worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, from June 2000 until April 2006. Kim investigated and prosecuted securities fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, racketeering, murder and terrorism cases for the government. He returned to Cleary in May 2006.
Edward Koch, Brash New York Mayor in 1980s Boom, Dies at 88
Edward I. Koch, the outspoken three-term New York mayor who led the biggest U.S. city from the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1970s and was a former partner in the law firm Bryan Cave LLP, died. He was 88.
Koch died Feb. 1 at 2 a.m. of heart failure at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital, spokesman George Arzt said. Koch had been hospitalized in September for anemia and in December for pneumonia and flu and was moved into intensive care Jan. 31. The funeral will be held today at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.
Serving from 1978 through 1989, Koch presided over the Wall Street-fueled economic boom of the 1980s, turning a $1 billion budget deficit into a $500 million surplus in five years. He restored the city’s credit, doubled the annual budget to $26 billion and oversaw $19 billion in capital improvements. His subsidized housing plan produced more than 156,000 new and renovated units.
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TeliaSonera CEO Resigns After Report Finds Risk Controls Lacking
TeliaSonera AB Chief Executive Officer Lars Nyberg resigned Feb. 1 as a law firm hired to investigate graft accusations said the carrier should have been more careful when it bought an Uzbeki phone license in 2007.
Swedish prosecutors opened an investigation last year into whether the country’s largest telephone operator knew, or should have known, when it bought the license from Takilant Ltd. that the money went to President Islam Karimov’s family. Law firm Mannheimer Swartling faulted the lack of adequate internal controls against corruption while saying it found no evidence of bribery or money laundering.
“I am greatly relieved that Mannheimer Swartling has not found anything to support the allegations that TeliaSonera committed bribery or participated in money laundering,” Nyberg said in a statement. “This is something that I have been convinced of since these allegations emerged.”
TeliaSonera, which is almost 40 percent owned by the Swedish government, has denied it broke any laws and named Per-Arne Blomquist as president and acting CEO. The company is already in the middle of a management overhaul that will see Chairman Anders Narvinger step down on April 3. Nyberg was hired in July 2007 to replace ousted CEO Anders Igel due to slumping profits.
“The criticism in the report is very serious and reflects the fact that we haven’t followed our own guidelines,” TeliaSonera Chairman Anders Narvinger said at a press conference Feb. 1. It’s “quite clear that the local partner should have been investigated more thoroughly.”
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FTC Chairman Leibowitz Says He’ll Leave Agency by Feb. 15
Jonathan Leibowitz , chairman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, said he will leave for the private sector by Feb. 15 after eight years at the consumer-protection and antitrust enforcement agency.
Leibowitz, whose watch included a 20-month antitrust investigation of Google Inc. that left the search engine operator free to extend its dominance, said the agency has made progress on a number of consumer protection issues including health care, privacy, technology and so-called last-dollar fraud cases such as mortgage-modification scams.
Leibowitz, 54, said he doesn’t have another job lined up and will look for work with a law firm or company after taking a few months off.
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Rothstein Wife Admits Guilt in Hiding $1 Million in Jewelry
The wife of Scott Rothstein, a disbarred Florida attorney who ran a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, pleaded guilty to hiding $1 million in jewelry from U.S. authorities trying to seize his assets to repay investors.
Kimberly Wendell Rothstein, 38, admitted Feb. 1 in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that she lied after Internal Revenue Service agents tried to confiscate the jewelry, including a 12-carat yellow diamond ring. A friend of hers, Stacie Weisman, 49, also pleaded guilty.
Scott Rothstein, who is serving a 50-year prison term, amassed tens of millions of dollars in real estate, cars, boats, watches, jewelry and sports memorabilia, authorities said. After he agreed to plead guilty and forfeit his illegal gains, his wife held back some jewelry when federal agents showed up on Nov. 9, 2009, she admitted.
“Kimberly Rothstein, Weisman, and others sold or attempted to sell a portion of the missing jewelry to and through various persons,” according to a statement of facts filed in court that Kimberly Rothstein admitted.
On Jan. 30, attorney Scott Saidel, 45, pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his role in the scheme. Two other men, Eddy Marin, 50, and Patrick Daoud, 54, were charged with obstruction of justice and perjury. They face trial on April 8.
The Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Scott Rothstein involved persuading wealthy investors to buy stakes in what he said were payouts in confidential sexual harassment and workplace discrimination cases. The cases were fabricated. Rothstein used forged court documents and phony bank records to sell the scheme to investors, including four hedge funds and several wealthy South Florida businessmen.
The case is U.S. v. Rothstein, 12-cr-60204, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).
Skadden Advises MetLife on Provida Purchase for $2 Billion
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is advising MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, which agreed to buy Chilean pension manager AFP Provida SA from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA in a deal valued at about $2 billion to add fee income in Latin America. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is advising BBVA.
The Skadden team includes New York partners Robert Sullivan on insurance and Paola Lozano on mergers and acquisitions matters.
Sullivan & Cromwell partners included corporate and M&A partner William Torchiana, who is also head of the firm’s Paris office, and Ronald Creamer Jr. on tax.
MetLife will conduct a public cash tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of Provida, the insurer said in a statement. BBVA has agreed to transfer its 64.3 percent stake to MetLife, according to the statement.
MetLife is expanding in faster-growing markets with the Provida deal, after acquiring American Life Insurance Co. in 2010 to build operations in Asia and Europe. Chief Executive Officer Steven Kandarian has set a goal of generating at least 20 percent of operating earnings from emerging markets by 2016 as he targets return on equity of 12 percent or more.
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Skadden Advises Pfizer’s Zoetis in $2.24 Billion IPO
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP advised Zoetis Inc., the animal-health company owned by Pfizer Inc., which surged as much as 22 percent in its debut after raising $2.24 billion in an initial public offering, pricing the shares above the proposed range.
The Skadden team includes corporate finance partners Stacy Kanter and Dwight Yoo. Partners Dean Shulman and Steven Matays are advising on tax aspects. Partners Paul Schnell and Thomas Greenberg are advising on mergers and acquisitions matters.
Pfizer offered about 17 percent of Zoetis in the IPO, the biggest in the U.S. since Facebook Inc.’s last year. The IPO price valued Zoetis at $13 billion, making it the largest public company of its kind and one of the few focused solely on medicines for animals.
Kanter, the partner leading on the Zoetis IPO, also led Skadden’s team on the Realogy Holdings Corp. IPO in October. Realogy is the real estate brokerage company controlled by Apollo Global Management LLC, which raised $1.08 billion in an initial public offering, pricing the shares at the top of the proposed range.
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White & Case Forms Association with Indonesian Law Firm
White & Case LLP announced an association with Indonesian law firm MD & Partners in Jakarta.
MD & Partners, a new law firm, is headed by founding partner Mita Djajadiredja. Djajadiredja was previously a partner at Hadiputranto Hadinoto & Partners, and is a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, the firm said. Joining Djajadiredja is Nadia Soraya, previously a partner at Makarim & Taira S. in Jakarta. Soraya has finance and corporate experience, particularly in the power and natural resources sectors.
“Our association with MD & Partners supports our firm’s long history with Indonesia and meets the increasing demands of our clients,” said White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier.
White & Case has lawyers in 38 offices in 26 countries.
Lehman Fees Exceed $2 Billion Since 2008 Bankruptcy Filing
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which is still liquidating after exiting court protection last year, paid advisers and managers $153.8 million in December, putting total fees over the $2 billion mark in the more than four years since it filed for bankruptcy.
December’s outlays included $84 million in incentives for a plan that will pay creditors an average of 18 cents on the dollar, according to a Jan. 31 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal LLC, which runs the defunct investment bank, has made almost $583 million so far, including incentive payments. Lead bankruptcy law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has earned $454 million.
Lehman became the most expensive bankruptcy in U.S. history in April 2010, when it topped the record $757 million tab for energy trader Enron Corp.’s three-year liquidation, according to the database of Lynn LoPucki, a bankruptcy-law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Fees surpassed $1 billion after 24 1/2 months in bankruptcy in October 2010.
Enron’s payback to general unsecured creditors was about 53 percent, albeit with a long wait after it came out of bankruptcy court in 2004.
The high fees result from competition among bankruptcy courts for big cases, LoPucki, author of “Courting Failure: How Competition for Big Cases Is Corrupting the Bankruptcy Courts” (University of Michigan Press, 2005), said at the time. Judges don’t often challenge payments to lawyers who bring in big cases, because under current laws those lawyers are free to take future cases to competing courts that won’t question the fees, he said.
Lehman, once the world’s fourth-biggest investment bank, filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history in September 2008 with assets of $639 billion. Creditors included Goldman Sachs Group Inc., UBS AG, the New York Giants professional football team and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
The case is In re Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., 08-13555, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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