United States: New York
Led by John D Harkrider, the AXINN VELTROP & HARKRIDER team punches above its weight. As a boutique with no corporate department, the firm must win deal work based on its reputation with co-counsel as well as companies. Other lawyers see Axinn Veltrop more as merger advisers than as litigators, and Harkrider doesn’t necessarily disagree. “We’re good litigators, but we’re great deal people,” he says, adding that his team will analyse the chances of litigation and are willing to take it on.
The Ball Corporation tapped partners Harkrider, Nick Gaglio and Mark Alexander to coordinate globally for its US$6.7 billion purchase of rival can maker Rexam, a tie-up Harkrider says was “the hardest deal I’ve ever done”. This title doesn’t go by price tag, as Dell’s acquisition of EMC cost 10 times as much but cleared the US Federal Trade Commission without a second request. Here too Axinn Veltrop served as lead antitrust and global coordinating counsel to the buyer. Other merger matters included McKesson’s formation of a US$3.4 billion joint venture with Change Healthcare, for which Daniel Bitton is lead counsel.
Outside the merger world, Harkrider acted as lead defence counsel in a monopolisation case brought against Stanley Black & Decker and other power-tool makers, which a Virginia federal district court dismissed for a second time in October 2016 after it was partially revived on appeal. The firm continues to advise Google in a variety of matters, including standard-essential patents and investigations – experience that Harkrider says has impressed upon him the lobbying and public relations aspects of antitrust work.
United States: Washington, DC
AXINN VELTROP & HARKRIDER’s eponymous co-founder John Harkrider is based in New York and appears on most deals that involve his DC colleagues, including with Michael Keeley as lead global counsel for Dell in its US$67 billion acquisition of EMC, which was the largest merger of two technology companies in history. Keeley also represented NIBE Industrier in the Swedish company’s acquisition of the Climate Control Group from LSB Industries; while the FTC investigated that deal, which saw the combination of the two largest geothermal heat pump providers in the US, it received unconditional clearance.
DC antitrust practice head John DeQ Briggs acts as lead counsel for defendant Independence Blue Cross in the massive Blue Cross Blue Shield class action, and for Danfoss against GE’s claim in the refrigerant compressors follow-on action. He’s also an expert antitrust witness for Sabre. Rachel Adcox is lead counsel in several litigations and grand jury investigations, including for Nishikawa Rubber in an auto parts follow-on, co-lead with Briggs in the Blue Cross litigation, and as lead for Yardi, the defendant in a monopolisation case in Utah. Richard Dagen acts as lead counsel for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in section 2 litigation and related matters, and is on the trial team for Black & Decker in the defence of a suit brought in the Eastern District of Virginia by SawStop. The federal district court granted summary judgment against the plaintiff, but SawStop has appealed again.
Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider is a boutique law firm composed of a select group of the finest lawyers from the best firms dedicated to three practice areas: antitrust, intellectual property and litigation. Unencumbered by the characteristics of larger firms, Axinn has proved to be agile, efficient, responsive, and deeply involved in its clients’ issues. Notwithstanding its size (almost 60 lawyers), Axinn is called upon to handle clients’ largest and most strategically critical matters.
Axinn has worked on many of the most significant antitrust matters in the last year. Founding partner and antitrust practice co-chair John Harkrider won Lawyer of the Year - Worldwide and also was co-lead counsel on Merger Control Matter of the Year - Americas.
Partner and antitrust practice co-chair John DeQ Briggs was one of the first, and most senior, defections from Howrey when he left for Axinn in 2008. Since then, Briggs and Harkrider have built a formidable and multifaceted practice that finds itself on deals much larger firms would covet.
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