Davis Polk, Skadden Advise on Tyson Deal: Business of Law

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP advised Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meat company, on its raised offer for Hillshire Brands Co. of about $7.7 billion, outbidding Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is representing Hillshire, the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs.

The Davis Polk corporate team includes partners George R. Bason Jr., Arthur F. Golden, Richard D. Truesdell Jr. and Marc O. Williams. Additional partners include Joseph P. Hadley, credit; Ronan P. Harty, antitrust and competition; Edmond T. FitzGerald, executive compensation; and Neil Barr, tax.

The Skadden team includes partners Rodd Schreiber and Michael Civale, M&A; Seth Jacobson, banking; and Gregg Noel, corporate. Advice also was provided by Skadden partners Clifford Aronson, antitrust and competition; Joseph Yaffe, executive compensation and benefits; Don Frost Jr., environmental and climate change; Bruce Goldner and Kenneth Plevan, intellectual property; and David Rievman, tax.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is advising Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co. on the deal with a team led by partners Morgan Bale, banking and finance, and Matthew Bloch, capital markets. M&A partner Raymond Gietz also worked on the deal.

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Hughes Hubbard Advises Merck on Idenix $3.9 Billion Deal

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP advised Merck & Co., the second-biggest U.S. drugmaker, which agreed to buy Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. for about $3.85 billion to expand its experimental pipeline for hepatitis C treatments. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP gave legal advice to Idenix.

The Hughes Hubbard team was led by corporate partner James Modlin and included partners David Schwartz, corporate; Andrew H. Braiterman and Alexander F. Anderson, tax; Sarah Downie, employee benefits and executive compensation; Ethan Litwin and William J. Kolasky, antitrust; Alain Vincent, corporate; Nadine Voisin, labor and employment; and Stefan Naumann, IP.

Sullivan & Cromwell represented Idenix with a team that included partners Francis J. Aquila and Krishna Veeraraghavan, corporate; Ronald E. Creamer Jr., tax; Matthew M. Friestedt, executive compensation and benefits; and Nader A. Mousavi, intellectual property.

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Ex-Michigan Chief Regulatory Officer Hilfinger Returns to Foley

Former State of Michigan chief regulatory officer Steven Hilfinger will return to Foley & Lardner LLP’s transactional and securities practice as a partner in its Detroit office.

Hilfinger, who has three years of state government experience, was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder as regulatory chief and director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

In his most recent role, he worked as chief operating officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the firm said.

McGinnis joins Greenberg Traurig Denver Public-Finance Practice

Greenberg Traurig LLP added Michael R. McGinnis as a shareholder in the public-finance practice. He was previously at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP in the Denver office. He will also cross into the corporate and securities practice.

Dentons Adds Corporate Lawyer Susan Greenspon in Chicago Office

Dentons announced that Susan Greenspon joined its corporate practice in the Chicago office from K&L Gates LLP.


GM Faces Punitive Damages Over Switch Defect, Its Lawyers Warned

General Motors Co.’s lawyers have said the carmaker will face punitive damages over ignition switch defects if its customers go to trial, creating an urgent need to settle lawsuits.

The automaker, which has said it wants to help accident victims, is dealing with new and revived suits over injuries and deaths as a result of its recall of 2.59 million cars. A case brought by lawyer Lance Cooper was settled for $5 million in September after an adviser warned GM of a “substantial adverse verdict” if a jury heard that it knew of the defect for nine years and didn’t fix it, according to a report by investigator Anton Valukas.

The delay would be taken as “proof positive of GM’s conscience indifference and willful misconduct when it comes to the safety of its vehicles’ occupants,” Philip Holladay of King & Spalding, GM’s outside law firm, told the company last year. “This case needs to be settled,” he said, according to Valukas.

As with Cooper, GM may feel pressure to settle other injury suits to avoid costly awards to victims. In at least four cases since 2010, GM was warned by outside lawyers that jurors might grant accident victims “substantial” or “punitive” awards if they heard of the company’s failures to fix a fault they had long known about, says the Valukas report commissioned by GM to examine its handling of the ignition switch defect.

“I suspect the amount to settle those cases went up significantly after the report’s release,” said Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit who has written about the automaker’s litigation.

Louisiana lawyer Dan Becnel estimates that GM faces about 200 injury suits.

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Bloomberg Law Brief: Noah Feldman on Supreme Court, Patent Law

Noah Feldman, a Harvard Law School professor and Bloomberg View columnist, discusses how the Supreme Court is reversing decisions of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which is responsible for patent law appeals.

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