GCR 100 - 12th Edition

White & Case

18 January 2012

White & Case boasts both an impressive international presence - with 169 competition lawyers across 25 countries it is one of the world’s furthest-reaching competition practices - and highly regarded teams in Washington, DC, and Brussels.

12. White & Case LLP

Global head: J Mark Gidley
Home jurisdiction: United States
Total size of firm: 1,912
Number of competition specialists: 169
Percentage of competition specialists: 9
Who's Who nominees: 7
Partners: 44
Percentage of partners in Who's Who Legal: 20
Senior associates: 31
Associates: 78
Counsel and consultants: 15
Other: 1
Number of lateral partner hires: 1
Number of partner departures: 1
Number of internal promotions: 0

No other GCR 100 firm has the same number of offices practising antitrust law. Consequently, the firm’s work is almost always global in scope. According to the firm it also specialises in areas where there is no prior case law.

White & Case’s Russia office received a boost this year with the arrival of Grigory Chernyshov at the Moscow office from Egorov Puginsky Afansiev & Partners. Partner Joy Fuyuno left the firm to go in-house for Microsoft.

The firm has worked on major matters over the past year - in Brussels it secured a landmark victory for Toshiba in one of only a few cases in which the General Court has annulled a European Commission cartel fine. It is also representing the company in an appeal against a General Court decision finding the company guilty of participation in a cartel in the market for power transformers, as well as a Court of Justice case concerning the Czech authority’s competence to investigate a case, as well as continuing US investigations of the CRT and LCD markets. The firm is also regular counsel to pharmaceutical company Pfizer, and is representing the company in the $2.4 billion sale of its Capsugel division.

In the US, it is acting for Grupo Bimbo in its US$959 million acquisition of Sara Lee’s North American bread business, creating one of the US’s largest baked goods suppliers. On the litigation side, White & Case won jury acquittals for UK national Ian Norris, former CEO of Morgan Crucible, the first person ever to be extradited by the DoJ.

Brussels

White & Case has a team of eight partners and 20 associates in its Brussels-based competition practice. Jacquelyn MacLennan leads the group, which has handled an impressive array of cases over the last 12 months.

In July, the team secured a landmark victory for Toshiba Corporation, when the General Court of the European Union annulled in full a €90.9 million fine imposed on the company for allegedly participating in a cartel in the gas insulated switchgear market. The firm also succeeded in overturning fines imposed on Unipetrol and Synthos Kralupy for cartel activities in the market for synthetic rubber.

After the European Commission fined SAS Airlines €70 million for its role in the air cargo cartel, the airline retained White & Case to handle its appeal against that decision to the General Court.

In other areas, the firm represents Pfizer in the sale of its Capsugel division to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, which required antitrust approval from the European Commission as well as competition authorities in Mexico, Brazil, Russia and Serbia. The team advised DuPont on the European Union and worldwide merger control filings for its successful US$6.6 billion offer for Danisco. Other clients include Acergy, Halcor and Nordic Capital.

Czech Republic

White & Case is advising Toshiba Corporation in one of the Czech Republic’s largest cartel investigations, brought by the Czech Office for the Protection of Competition against the 16 largest producers of gas insulated switchgears. The switchgears are mechanisms used to regulate the flow of electricity in grids or power substations. Both the Czech agency and the European Commission handed down fines against the cartelists. Toshiba is now awaiting a decision from the European Court of Justice on the jurisdiction of the Czech competition authority in the matter. Meanwhile, White & Case is also acting for the company in a separate cartel investigation in the market for cathode ray tubes.

In July, White & Case won an annulment of a e17.55 million fine the European Commission imposed on clients Unipetrol and Kaučuk in 2006 for alleged participation in a synthetic rubber cartel. It was the first cartel investigation DG Comp conducted in the Czech Republic after the country’s accession to the EU.

On the state aid front, the team acts for České aerolinie with respect to the rescue plan and related restructuring process under EU state aid rules. Other clients include the KKCG Group and Ahold Czech Republic. The six-strong team includes two partners and is led by Tomas Zagar and Ivo Janda.

France

White & Case is headed by Jean-Paul Tran Thiet with the support of Jean-Patrice de La Laurencie – both nominees to the Who’s Who Legal. De La Laurencie is now of counsel, and remains vice president of the French association of antitrust specialists. Charles- Henri Calla was appointed counsel last year. Counsel Juliette Goyer and seven associates make up the rest of the team.

The firm is representing L’Oréal before the Paris Court of Appeals over a landmark decision by the Supreme Court related to the perfume and cosmetics markets. Tran Thiet is also representing Mondial Relay over a complaint regarding an anti-competitive agreement with La Poste, in which a request for interim measures against Mondial Relay was dismissed. At the European level, White & Case is acting for Nexans in DG Comp’s power cables cartel probe.

Most notably, the firm advised Terminal Porte Océane in its challenge before the Paris Court of Appeal of an authority decision to impose sanctions on four port operators for coordinating to share dockside stations. In a landmark ruling last January, the court judged that no antitrust violation had occurred because the parties’ actions were unilateral. De La Laurencie says it is the first case of its kind in France encompassing a joint venture agreement with a parent company.

White & Case is also advising on the Tereos/Groupe Quartier Français deal in the sugar cane sector, which the authority considered may have led to a monopoly in Réunion. It was approved in June.

Among the many other cases currently under way, the firm is also advising several telecoms clients and two global pharmaceutical companies over antitrust and regulatory matters.

Hungary

Of counsel Tihamér Tóth heads the competition group at White & Case. He works alongside two partners: István Réczicza and Ildikó Csák. They are supported by four associates who also spend time working on matters outside the competition field. Tóth – a former vice president of Hungary’s Competition Authority – focuses on European competition law and state aid. Electricity company Magyar Villamos Művek is just one of the companies that relies on the firm for state aid advice.

The firm is representing E.ON Tiszántúli áramhálózati in a behavioural investigation. The company was accused of abusing its dominant position and was subject to an investigation by the competition authority. The case, which revolves around allegations of foreclosure in the public lighting industry, is now before the courts.

On the transactional front, White & Case advised longstanding client Invitel Holdings on its acquisition of leading Hungarian cable television company, FiberNet. The team secured competition clearance for the deal by agreeing to divest certain FiberNet assets to Liberty Global Europe.

Meanwhile, the competition group advises Colgate-Palmolive on its advertising campaigns and distribution agreements.

Mexico

Competition lawyers in Mexico say that international firm White & Case has expanded its footprint in the market in recent years, and has become a major player when companies look for competition counsel. The five-lawyer practice is led by partners Juan Pablo Rico and Iker Arriola, while partner Eugenio Bernal was added to the practice’s roster last year. Specialists particularly praise Arriola, with one competitor calling him “very active” and saying of his team: “It’s impossible not to include them in this list.”

Over the past year, the firm has been busy advising clients in several antitrust investigation at the commission in various industries, including cases built around a leniency application. The team acted as antitrust counsel to Pfizer in the sale of its Capsugel division to private equity firm KKR. Other clients last year include DuPont, Principal Financial Group, Toshiba and others.

Poland

At White & Case, senior counsel Malgorzata Mroczkowska-Horne leads a competition team that also includes three associates. The small team is quietly building a name for itself in the Polish antitrust bar, particularly in the merger control field. It also benefits from a wider network of White & Case offices across Europe.

This year, it advised MIH, a South African multinational media company, on the competition aspects of its merger with Russian internet company DST. It counselled Sanofi-Aventis on its acquisition of Nepentes - a Polish pharmaceutical company. That deal required merger clearance in Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, Germany and several Balkan countries.

White & Case advised Arval - part of the BNP Paribas Group - on its acquisition of a portfolio of assets from Daimler. It also counselled EBRD on its acquisition of Polish bank Wolfensohn, while other clients include Eton Park, Lentex and HBO.

Russia

The Moscow-based competition practice at White & Case hired Who’s Who Legal nominee and antitrust specialist Grigory Chernyshov last year to lead its dispute resolution practice. Chernyshov joins fellow Who’s Who Legal nominee Igor Ostapets, who leads the group along with five dedicated associates. The hire leaves White & Case as the only Russian firm with two Who’s Who Legal nominees - an impressive development for the well-known US firm.

Over the past year, the firm advised Tetra Pak and Microsoft on a variety of competition law issues. It also helped Rostekhnolpogii, the Russian Technologies State Corporation, to analyse antimonopoly legislation in various jurisdictions. TNK-BP was a merger client, as was Unimilk, which the firm advised on its high-profile joint venture with dairy rival Danone.

Slovakia

White & Case has an established presence in Slovakia and has been around longer than most of its competitors. Still, lawyers in the practice focus on other areas beside competition and antitrust matters. Marek Staro, office head, says there are two partners, one senior associate and two associates working on competition matters, but not exclusively.

Still, the firm continues to maintain a steady workload for major clients in Slovakia. Toshiba is a prominent client, which the firm continues to advise in both the cathode ray tube and switchgear cartel matters. The team also advises numerous clients in the banking sector on various competition issues. Last year, work included advising Unibail-Rodamco in competition law aspects of its retail lease agreements and the buyout of Aupark, a major shopping centre in Bratislava. The firm also advised the Ministry of Economy last year in the implementation of an energy sector liberalisation package, and multiple other companies in state aid and antitrust issues.

United States: Government Antitrust

J Mark Gidley, head of the antitrust practice at White & Case in Washington, DC, is renowned for his representation of Ian Norris. Who’s Who Legal nominee Gidley and fellow partner Christopher Curran advised the former Morgan Crucible chief executive on his appeal against conspiracy charges brought by the DoJ - an appeal the Supreme Court eventually declined to hear. Gidley predicts extradition will be a growing trend in antitrust cases over the next decade.

But that’s not all that’s keeping the team busy. On the merger front, the team has acted for bread company Grupo Bimbo in its purchase of North American Fresh Bakery from Sara Lee. The deal is at the DoJ’s second request stage. Paul also acted for Pilot Travel Services in its acquisition of Flying J. The deal was conditionally cleared by the FTC last November and was the first lateral case under the new merger guidelines. The firm also maintained an impressive docket of health-care and intellectual property cases last year, advising Par Pharmaceuticals in an FTC probe of its settlement with Paddock Labs and Shionogi in a Hatch-Waxman patent cases that included antitrust counterclaims by generic rival Mylan. The team is also advising Toshiba, Nexans, DEPO and others in cartel matters.

United States: New York

Led by Who’s Who Legal nominee Joseph Angland, the New York antitrust team at White & Case spends most of its time defending its impressive client roster in court, along with what Angland calls a “reasonable bit” of cartel defence and merger work.

Over the past two years, the firm offset the loss of partner Elaine Johnston, who moved to Allen & Overy, by hiring Angland from the now-dissolved Heller Ehrman law firm and promoting two partners, John Chung and Martin Toto. Those and others in the firm’s New York office have carried the torch for the firm’s impressive health-care docket. The firm regularly advises Pfizer and Wyeth on a host of antitrust matters, including a series of lawsuits challenging Wyeth’s Effexor drug patent, and has acted for Novartis in several matters, including Robinson-Patman Act matters.

But the team’s reach extends well beyond health care: White & Cases’s New York lawyers have acted for Saudi Aramco, the Belarusian Potash Company, and served as global coordinating counsel for Toshiba in both the liquid crystal display and cathode ray tube cartel cases. Martin Toto, partner at the firm’s New York office, says that fight continues both in civil and criminal investigations, with no guilty pleas or prison sentences for the company’s executives. The team also won a favourable jury verdict for Experian and the dismissal of antitrust claims in a case alleging a conspiracy among the country’s three credit rating bureaus.

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