Gibson Dunn & Crutcher remains one of the world’s very best competition practices, and indeed we rank it as the world’s second-best practice for cartel defence work, both in the criminal context in the US and internationally. While former practice co-leader and criminal antitrust veteran Gary Spratling retired this year, his longtime protégé and former senior US enforcer Scott D Hammond has helped to maintain the firm’s reputation as a wellspring of knowledge and understanding about how international cartel enforcement works and how to navigate the system if exposed. But the firm is far more than a cartel defence shop; practice co-heads Peter Sullivan, Dan Swanson and Sean Royall bring deep experience in mergers, litigation and conduct work, and the 41 partners practice-wide are the fifth-largest group in our rankings. Gibson also boasts the second-most former enforcement officials in its partnership – a number that grew this year when it hired Eric Stock from the New York Attorney General’s Office.
|Merger ranking||-||Litigation ranking||=6||Cartel ranking||2|
Scott D Hammond, M Sean Royall, Peter Sullivan, Daniel G Swanson
|Number of jurisdictions with a competition team||6|
|Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal||41|
|Lateral partner hires||2|
Looking at the Global Elite statistics, Gibson Dunn’s immense strength in cartel defence is immediately obvious. Its 17 successful markers for full immunity are by far the most in our survey. And while most of those markers came in the US, where the firm is based and where its greatest strengths lie, it has found success for clients in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Canada and more. Hammond’s forays into Latin America also have paid dividends for the firm, as it has helped secure successes for clients in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and elsewhere. Most of its cartel work is confidential, but it has been publicly active for UBS, Chunghwa Picture Tube, NEC Tokin and Micron Technology, and is otherwise advising in auto parts, liner shipping, high voltage power cables, capacitors and a host of other matters. Much of that work spills into private litigation, where it acts for companies targeted by follow-on class actions and stand-alone conduct allegations. DreamWorks Animation, Delta Air Lines, AkzoNobel, Fitbit, NBCUniversal and Sanofi-Aventis are among the big names on the firm’s litigation client list, and its top 10 litigation ranking confirms its weight here.
Conduct cases also remain a significant area of strength in Gibson Dunn’s well-rounded antitrust practice. Much of the firm’s work remains confidential, in part because of its impressive track record of convincing antitrust agencies to close conduct investigations without taking any public action. The firm over the past year acted for a major technology company who came under FTC scrutiny over concerns of overlapping directorates and undue influence. That probe closed with no action taken after Gibson Dunn intervened. The firm is also involved in a spate of conduct cases involving companies from myriad industries, including major players in the oil and gas, entertainment, media and financial services markets. And the Gibson team continues to advise Intel as it appeals the European Commission’s 2009 dominance ruling against the company.
The practice’s slate of deal work impresses as well. For a firm known most for its conduct representations, it continues to attract more complex and big-ticket mergers than many of its competition tie-up rivals. AT&T turned to the Gibson Dunn to help guide the telecom company’s purchase of DirecTV, a deal that required a close look by both the US DOJ and the Federal Communications Commission, which voiced concerns about control of content distribution. Marriott also leaned on Gibson Dunn to guide its US$13.8 billion purchase of Starwood Hotels, which went to Phase III in China and required in-depth reviews in the US and Europe. The firm was on for Schlumberger’s purchase of Cameron International, a contentious deal that required filings in 10 jurisdictions and a Phase II review in China. And although it did not count toward this year’s rankings, the firm is working for St Jude Medical in its deeply complex purchase by rival Abbott, which is under in-depth investigation around the world, and for LinkedIn, the seller in a closely watched tie-up with Microsoft.