GCR 100 - 12th Edition

Baker & McKenzie

18 January 2012

The global competition practice at Baker & McKenzie continues to expand both in reach and size – an impressive feat for what is already the largest antitrust group in our rankings.

15. Baker & McKenzie

Leadership: Samantha Mobley, Andrew Christopher, Fiona Carlin, Tulio Coelho and David Clanton
Home jurisdiction: United States
Total size of firm: 5,270
Number of competition specialists: 316
Percentage of competition specialists: 6
Who's Who Legal nominees: 15
Partners: 123
Percentage of partners in Who's Who Legal: 12
Senior associates: 61
Associates: 103
Counsel and consultants: 18
Other: 11
Number of lateral partner hires: 5
Number of partner departures: 1
Number of internal promotions: 4

With the fall of Howrey, Baker & McKenzie now tops our list of firms it terms of size, with 316 lawyers practising in the competition group. That includes four lateral hires of top-tier competition lawyers from rival firms. Plus, the firm last year struck a partnership with Turkish law firm Esin Attorney Partnership, expanding its global presence and giving it competition lawyers on the ground in 38 jurisdictions.

The competition team last year helped Mitsubishi Electric convince the EU General Court to annul a €118 million fine handed down by the European Commission in its gas insulated switchgear investigation – an impressive victory for one of the firm’s major clients. The team also worked across the Atlantic to help Rio Tinto sell its talc business to Imerys – a deal that was unconditionally cleared by antitrust enforcers in the US and Europe. Other clients last year included Cargill, AXA Private Equity, L’Oréal, Royal Dutch Shell, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Baldwin Filters, HeBei Welcome Pharmaceutical and Estée Lauder, to name but a few.

While the Baker & McKenzie team appears in many of our country chapters in this year’s GCR 100, it has impressive competition practices in other jurisdictions as well. The firm says its Australian and Washington, DC, practices are both steadily improving groups that take on an impressive array of competition matters. Notably, the firm’s Washington, DC, practice grew considerably last year when three partners joined the firm: Stephen Harris joined from Jones Day; Katie Funk joined from SNR Denton; and Lee Van Voorhis joined from Weil Gotshal & Manges.

 

Argentina

Baker & McKenzie is the only international firm in Argentina with an antitrust practice. Headed by partner Esteban Rópolo, the practice draws on its significant international client base to garner work at its Argentine practice. Gustavo Boruchowicz and Guillermo Cervio join Rópolo in the partnership, and the team is completed by two associates.

While the firm has had both transactional and behavioural matters on its books, the bulk of its recent work has been mergers. The firm is advising chemical company BASF on the Argentine clearance of its purchase of Cognis, and Pioneer in its acquisition of seed company Pannar. The firm continues to advise Brazilian mining company Vale on its acquisition of an iron ore mine in Brazil that supplies the Argentine market, and is acting for General Electric in its acquisition of oil and gas assets from the John Wood Group.

On the behavioural side, Baker & McKenzie is advising British American Tobacco subsidiary Nobleza Piccardo over abuse of dominance allegations by two distributors. The firm is also acting for BASF in a claim alleging anti-competitive practices in the insecticide market.

Brazil

Trench Rossi e Watanabe generates a great deal of its work within Brazil, even though it is part of the Baker & McKenzie empire with access to its vast network. The firm’s extremely well-regarded antitrust practice is led by Who's Who Legal nominees Túlio Freitas do Egito Coelho and Francisco Ribeiro Todorov.

Coelho is the leader of the Brazil antitrust team and also the head of Baker & McKenzie’s regional Latin American antitrust team. His work this year has focused on the defence of clients in some of the most significant international cartel investigations in Brazil and advising clients on merger control matters. Todorov has had a busy year with cartel work and travel, running seminars to clients in both Taiwan and Korea on global, regional and Brazilian antitrust issues. The team includes seven associates.

In cartel work the firm has been very active. It is advising Mitsubishi Corporation in the DRAM and gas insulated switchgear cartel probes; LG Display in the Brazil’s cartel investigation of the TFT-LCD panel market; Panalpina in the freight forwarders probe; and American Airlines in the air cargo cartel case, among others. The team also represents Air Liquide in an appeal against CADE fines for an alleged cartel in the industrial and medical gas market.

The firm has recently advised clients including Nestlé, 3M, GE, Bemis and Shell in merger control-related matters.

Brussels

Baker & McKenzie added a fourth partner to its Brussels-based competition group this year when Gavin Bushell joined the team from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Fiona Carlin leads the practice, which also includes two of counsel and seven associates.

The team scored a significant victory before the General Court this year when it annulled €118.6 million in cartel fines that the commission had imposed on client Mitsubishi Electric for its supposed involvement in a gas insulated switchgear cartel. Baker & McKenzie also won dismissal of all charges imposed on client Trade-Stomil for alleged cartel activity in the synthetic rubber market.

The competition group is representing Hungarian energy company MOL, which is facing a demand for repayment of more than €100 million in state aid. The case is before the General Court. Meanwhile, on the M&A side, the Brussels team handled Computer Sciences Corporation’s acquisition of iSOFT, securing competition clearance from the European Commission.

Chile

Senior counsel Antonio Ortúzar leads the Chilean arm of Baker & McKenzie’s competition empire. The sizeable group is completed by partners Rodrigo Diaz de Valdés and Ignacio Garcia, who are supported by three associates.

The firm has had a very busy year in behavioural matters. Ortúzar and de Valdés advised travel agency Abercrombie & Kent in a complex litigation over alleged abuse of dominance and boycotting of a luxury hotel chain. Baker & McKenzie also represented Whirlpool in the first case to involve a leniency application in Chile, and shopping mall chain Cencosud over allegations of setting up non-compete agreements. De Valdés is also acting for Whirlpool, Black & Decker and Applica in a competition authority investigation of alleged collusion in the market for household appliances.

As well as this heavy workload, Baker & McKenzie remains active on the merger front, advising Concha y Toro, Chile’s largest vineyard, in it’s acquisition of US-based Fetzer Vineyards. The deal required filings in multiple jurisdictions

Colombia

Baker & McKenzie is the only international law firm operating in Colombia. The competition team is strongly tied to the M&A practice, as well as working with the firm’s wider network of offices. Partner Carolina Pardo heads the antitrust group, which includes another two partners and two associates. The office – which was established in 1937 – is one of Baker & McKenzie’s most successful Latin American offices.

This year, the team advised French Groupe SEB on the post-closing requirements of its acquisition of a local company IMUSA. It counselled chemicals company BASF on its acquisition of Cognis in Colombia. The firm was also part of the legal team advising British American Tobacco in its opposition to the merger of Philip Morris and local tobacco company Protabaco, which was rejected by the authorities. The team then acted as lead counsel in British American Tobacco’s successful application to acquire Protabaco.

Baker & McKenzie advised Schindler Group on its joint venture agreement with leading Colombian elevator manufacturer Coservicios. BASF is another client, which called on the firm when it acquired Cognis. The competition group also advised Total on the antitrust issues and implications of the divestment of its interest in Ocensa Pipeline.

 

Czech Republic

Partner Alexandr Cesar leads Baker & McKenzie’s Czech competition practice. He works alongside partner Martin Hrodek, who focuses his practice on private competition litigation, and senior associate Marek Kreisl. Two more associates complete the team.

The group successfully defended LG Electronics in the cathode ray tube cartel investigation by the Czech and Slovak competition authorities. The agencies imposed no penalties on LG Electronics. The national investigation was conducted in tandem with the European Commission’s cartel probe.

The competition group is also representing Mitsubishi Electric before the European Court of Justice in connection with the Czech investigation of gas insulated switchgears. And Baker & McKenzie continues to represent Československá obchodní banka, the country’s largest bank, in its high-profile litigation against the Czech government regarding state aid granted before the country’s accession to the European Union.

The firm has represented numerous international and domestic clients on compliance, dominance issues, sector inquiries and general competition matters. The group has also advised various clients on merger control, including counselling the Tatra heavy truck manufacturer on its joint venture project with DAF Trucks.

Germany

In the middle of 2010, Baker & McKenzie’s German competition team left the firm to establish a boutique. But Baker & McKenzie was quick to rebound, hiring lateral partners Christian Horstkotte from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Nicolas Kredel from Hengeler Mueller. Horstkotte now leads the team, which includes another three partners and five associates. The team says further expansion is on the cards for 2012.

In the last year, the group has advised Hewlett-Packard on multi-jurisdictional merger control proceedings related to its €2 billion outsourcing contract with German energy giant E.ON Group. And it counselled Rexnord on the acquisition of German company VAG Armaturen. On the behavioural side, the team is counsel to Segafredo Zanetti Deutschland in its appeal against fines handed down by the German cartel office. The case is now before the High Court.

Hungary

Baker & McKenzie’s Budapest competition practice includes two partners and four associates, led by Zoltán Hegymegi-Barakonyi – a nominee to The International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists. Hegymegi-Barakonyi wins almost universal praise from peers. Partner and co-head of the office, Péter VÖrÖs, is also well respected.

The team divides its time between cartel work, merger control filings and abuse of dominance cases. Half of that work involves representing clients before the Hungarian Competition Authority or the European Commission, while the other half is compliance work.

This year, Baker & McKenzie advised Allianz Hungarian Insurance in a cartel case in the market for car repair charges paid through insurance companies. The case saw some of the highest fines ever issued by the Hungarian enforcer. It was the first case in which the Supreme Court has requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in a competition case.

The competition group is also counsel to a leading Hungarian optical company in a rare domestic cartel investigation, which is pending in the market for contact lenses.

The firm is representing German and Hungarian subsidiaries of one of the world’s largest information technology companies, in the acquisition of IT assets from a leading energy company. It is also acting for a supplier of biofuels on merger control proceedings related to the acquisition of a stake in a Hungarian biodiesel production company.

Japan

Since launching its stand-alone practice in Tokyo in 2007, Baker & McKenzie has grown significantly and established itself as a key antitrust firm in Japan. The firm says the integration of practice head Fumio Koma and his team from Asahi Koma Law Offices was integral to its growth and high profile. Koma is supported by partners Shinichiro Abe, Akira Inoue and Tetsuro Sato.

While offering a full-service practice, Baker & McKenzie has worked primarily on behavioural matters over the past year. It is advising a Japanese construction device manufacturer regarding JFTC dawn raids for alleged cartel activity, and is also representing a Japanese chemical company in an international cartel case. Baker & McKenzie has filed leniency applications in various jurisdictions.

The firm is also active in the private litigation arena, in a matter that demonstrates the strength of its international presence. The Tokyo office is advising a Japanese semiconductor manufacturer accused of price fixing in a class action lawsuit in California. The group is also advising a US computer manufacturer in an abuse of dominance dispute with a Japanese retailer.

Netherlands

Another practice that works closely with its Brussels counterpart is Baker & McKenzie. Dutch competition practice leader Misha Lutje Beerenbroek says the team focuses primarily on behavioural matters. Litigation partner Frank Kroes supports Beerenbroek along with five associates, and the team continues as counsel to Carglass in numerous follow-on actions arising from abuse of dominance claims, which were rejected.

The firm won a reduction in fines for a defendant in the elevator cartel case; it is also representing a company in the NMa’s flour cartel investigation. While merger control work is not high on the agenda, because of Baker & McKenzie’s extensive international network, Beerenbroek says the Amsterdam team is consistently working on multi-jurisdictional merger assessments and filings for large multinational businesses.

Poland

Baker & McKenzie’s Warsaw competition team has enjoyed a successful year, winning a complete annulment in fines for client Trade-Stomil. It was the first case in which the European Commission had imposed a cartel fine on a Polish company, but that decision was reversed by the General Court. The team is also advising Trade-Stomil in cartel damages proceedings stemming from the case before the English and Italian courts.

The competition team includes one partner, one counsel and three associates. Marcin Kolasinski heads the group, which has also been active in a number of significant transactional cases, including multijurisdictional merger control filings. It is also advising in several distribution and dominance cases - particularly in the pharmaceuticals sector.

The firm is advising McCormick & Company Incorporated on its acquisition of Polish competitor Kamis. McCormick is one of the world’s leading producers of spice and seasonings, while Kamis is Poland’s largest player in the market. The competition team also steered through Fresenius Medical Care’s acquisition of rival Eurodial.

Russia

The thriving Moscow practice at Baker & McKenzie expanded again last year, adding two lawyers to its group, which is now up to 10 lawyers overall. Partner Marat Mouradov continues to lead the competition practice after his promotion in 2010. Eight associates, including senior associate Nadia Goreslavskaya, and one of counsel make up the rest of the team.

Along with its continued representation of Acer, Baltika Breweries and China Investment Corporation, the Baker & MacKenzie team last year advised Alcoa in two procurement matters that had antimonopoly law implications, and ended up before the FAS. It also advised the company in a monopolistic and discriminatory pricing investigation at the FAS - an investigation that spanned close to 500 different product markets in the aviation and shipbuilding industries. The team is also advising Siemens AG in the acquisition of industrial real estate in St Petersburg. Other clients include Weatherford, Philips and Ford Motor Company.

Spain

Baker & McKenzie is a new entrant to the Spanish chapter of the GCR 100, having quietly established itself as a leader in cartel work. When the CNC began to pursue trade associations - realising they can serve as a fertile breeding ground for cartel activity - Baker & McKenzie stepped in to represent those under suspicion. It won a 50 per cent reduction in fines for the Spanish Association of Poultry Producers, which was charged with collusion but appealed against the decision before the country’s National Appeal Court. The firm secured a 75 per cent reduction in fines before the same court for its client the Sherry Council, another trade association.

José Antonio de la Calle is the partner in charge of the Madrid competition team; Carles Prat leads the Barcelona antitrust offering. The team includes another three partners and seven associates, though some of the team work on other matters including in the administrative law practice. The competition group now spends up to 80 per cent of its time representing clients in court and before the CNC on behavioural cases.

The firm advises a number of clients that are household names, including Sony, SpyPress, Starbucks Coffee, Telecom Italia, The Body Shop and Vodafone.

Sweden

Partner Leif Gustafsson in Baker & McKenzie’s Stockholm office is in charge of competition work. Over the last year, the practice has grown to include seven associates who are also fully dedicated to antitrust work, splitting their time equally between cartel, litigation, state aid and public procurement matters. The practice continues to work closely with its offices in Brussels and elsewhere around Europe on a host of complex competition matters in the pharmaceutical, telecoms, transportation and security sectors.

Over the past year, the team has been busy. On the behavioural front, the team is advising the Brunswick Group on a continuing competition authority cartel investigation in the marine engines sector. It is also acting for Chemrec AB in its application for state aid for a proposed biofuel plant. While many of the firm’s other clients remain confidential, it is involved in numerous other competition law issues in Sweden, including a code-sharing agreement among airlines and several procurement matters.

Switzerland

Partners Philippe Reich and Peter Reinert continue to lead the Swiss competition team at Baker & McKenzie. The nine-lawyer team continues to handle an impressive slate of local work for clients. The team says behavioural cases now take up the majority of its time, along with competition compliance.

The firm continues to advise Estée Lauder in the commission’s investigation of the luxury perfumes and cosmetics market, and Panalpina in the freight-forwarding probe. While the firm’s other clients and matters remain confidential, the team advises a client in the service industry on abuse of dominance matters, and the firm works for various international manufacturers of branded goods before the competition commission.

United Kingdom

Meanwhile, Who’s Who Legal nominee Samantha Mobley leads the competition team at Baker & McKenzie. The practice now has eight partners, two of whom focus solely on competition litigation: Tom Cassels and Richard Pike. In October, Gavin Bushell joined the firm as a partner from Freshfields.

The firm has added a number of new clients to its roster of late, notably Carlsberg Group and L’Oréal - Baker & McKenzie advised the latter on its multi-jurisdictional purchase of Essie Cosmetics, which closed last June. On the back of the M&A success, the group was recently instructed to deal with all competition work for L’Oréal in the UK.

The firm is advising Cargill in its €1.5 billion acquisition of nutrition company Provimi, which requires filing in six jurisdictions including the European Commission.

The firm scored significant litigation victories in the UK and Europe this year. Partners Pike and Luis Gomez represented Royal Dutch Shell in its successful appeal against a £3 million OFT fine for price fixing on tobacco products, and Ross Denton advised Mitsubishi Electric in an appeal against its €119 million cartel fine in the gas insulated switchgear markets. The General Court annulled the fine in July.

United States: Ilinois

The cases brought by the Chicago-based team at Baker & McKenzie are spread across the country, from the Northern District of Illinois to the Northern District of California in San Francisco and elsewhere. The firm’s three Who’s Who Legal-nominated partners, Roxane Busey, Thomas Campbell and William J Linklater, along with litigation specialist and practice leader Patrick Ahern, take pride in their involvement in a prestigious list of multi-district price-fixing cases in a host of high-profile industries.

In California, for example, Ahern and the team act for Chunghwa Picture Tubes in both the LCD and cathode ray tube cartel litigations. The firm is also advising plaintiffs involved in the processed egg antitrust litigation in Philadelphia, as well as Carecore National in an antitrust litigation in New York. As one of the broadest and most integrated antitrust practices in the world, Ahern and the Chicago team also work closely with the firm’s antitrust practices in New York, Washington, DC, and elsewhere, where the firm is active in several other major class actions. These include the aftermarket automotive filters litigation, the vitamin C cartel case and others.

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