Yet Another Bank General Counsel to Step Down: Business of Law

Deutsche Bank AG, the bank with the highest legal bills in continental Europe, said Richard Walker will retire as general counsel at the end of the year at his own request.

Walker will be succeeded by Simon Dodds and Christof von Dryander, deputy general counsels since 2013, Deutsche Bank said Friday in an e-mailed response to questions.

Walker led Deutsche Bank’s legal department when the company and other banks paid billions of dollars in fines for misconduct and settlements with clients who said they were unfairly treated. The firm is the third global bank in the past month to signal a change in general counsel, joining JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp.

He will become a senior adviser to the bank in the role of vice chairman and remain on its group executive committee, according to the company.

Last month, JPMorgan said Stephen Cutler will become a vice chairman and give up his role as general counsel early next year. Stacey Friedman, currently general counsel of the corporate and investment bank at JPMorgan, has been named as his successor.

Bank of America’s Gary Lynch will step down as general counsel and become a vice chairman, a person with knowledge of the plans said last month.

Walker, Cutler and Lynch each oversaw enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier in their careers before helping their banks negotiate with regulators and prosecutors in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Deutsche Bank agreed in April to pay $2.5 billion in penalties to settle U.S. and U.K. investigations into its role in rigging interbank offered rates. The bank’s foot-dragging and evasions increased the fine it paid to the U.K. regulator, the London-based Financial Conduct Authority said in April.

Activists Winning More Often on Strategy Demands, JPMorgan Says

Activist investors are increasingly successful when they seek to influence their target companies’ strategy rather than push for financial rewards, according to a JPMorgan Chase & Co. report.

Activists demanding changes in strategy were successful in 37 percent of cases in 2015, up from 23 percent in 2010, according to the report. The success rate for pushing changes to capital structure, such as special dividends and buybacks, increased more slowly, though it’s still higher overall, rising to 42 percent this year from 40 percent five years ago.

The 2015 proxy season saw a six-year high in the number of activist campaigns that threatened a proxy fight -- where activists seek to recruit other shareholders to vote in favor of their proposals -- as well as campaigns by more than 50 investors who had not previously or recently attempted to exert their influence. Management settled in 53 percent of proxy cases this year, with most agreements involving board representation.

Activist assets reached $129.7 billion in the second quarter of 2015, a 9 percent increase from the end of 2014 and a 177 percent increase from 2010, the report said, citing Hedge Fund Research.

Prominent activist funds are keeping busy during the traditionally quieter summer months, with at least three major campaigns revealed in the past week alone.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn on Thursday reported a new 8.2 percent activist stake in Cheniere Energy Inc. and plans to seek talks with the natural gas exporter’s management and perhaps board seats “if appropriate.”

Pershing Square Capital Management, led by Bill Ackman, said late Wednesday that it has built a 7.5 percent stake in snackmaker Mondelez International Inc. valued at about $5.6 billion. And on July 31, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc said activist hedge fund ValueAct Capital Management became its biggest investor, weeks after the U.K. engine maker appointed a new chief to overhaul its business.

Comings and Goings

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has hired Jane Love and Robert Trenchard as partners in New York. The two lawyers, previously partners at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, will continue to practice intellectual-property and life sciences litigation.

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP has expanded its partnership ranks. The firm has added Jill DeGraff Thorpe as a partner in the health-care practice in Washington. She was previously a managing member of Golden Stone LLC. In addition, Megan Christensen has joined the firm’s tax, employee-benefits and executive-compensation practice as a partner in Washington. Christensen was previously a partner at Blank Rome LLP.

Freeborn & Peters LLP has started a new health-care practice group with two partners. Deborah Dorman-Rodriguez, the former chief legal officer of Health Care Service Corp., will lead the new group. David Kaufman, most recently general counsel of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, is also joining as a partner.

Brown Rudnick LLP has hired Jeremy Bohrer as a partner in the corporate and capital markets practice in New York. Bohrer was previously the principal of JIB Advisors LLC in New York, a consulting firm focused primarily on hedge funds, portfolio managers, private partnerships and capital allocators.

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