GCR 100 - 11th Edition

Baker & McKenzie

24 January 2011

Of all of the firms in this year's edition of the GCR Global Elite, the geographical reach of the Baker & McKenzie antitrust team stands out.

16. Baker & McKenzie

Global heads: Samantha Mobley
Home jurisdiction: United States
Total size of firm: 5,006
Number of competition specialists: 306
Percentage of competition specialists: 6
Who's Who nominees: 7
Partners: 117
Percentage of partners in Who's Who: 6
Senior associates: 54
Associates: 104
Counsel: 20
Other: 11
Number of lateral partner hires: 1
Number of partner departures: 6
Number of internal promotions: 4

Remarkably, the firm spreads its 306 antitrust and competition specialists across 36 countries and, in some cases, multiple cities within those countries. That's a reach very few, if any, firms can match. And while the firm lost six antitrust partners to rivals over the year, its lateral hires and internal promotions have kept the team's impressive numbers stable during 2010.

Over the past year, Baker & McKenzie became global legal counsel to Carlsberg Group for a number of legal areas, including antitrust. The appointment, which begins at the beginning of 2011, comes as the Carlsberg Group continues to grow its business around the world. Other major work includes advising Archer Daniels Midland and Mitsubishi electric in respective cartel cases before the European Commission; Bemis in more than a dozen antitrust class actions in the US; the BBC Trust in its controversial "Project Canvas" joint venture in the UK; and dozens of other cases worldwide.

While six partners departed the firm last year – including four in Frankfurt who left to form their own boutique, Commeo Law – the firm has restocked its bench with senior competition specialists. Only former Hengeler Mueller lawyer Nicholas Krendel joins the firm as a partner, but the team also hired on special counsel Clara Ingen-Housz from Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett to join the firm's Hong Kong office, and former Royal Philips Electronics in-house lawyer Joost Haans in Brussels.

Argentina

Baker & McKenzie is the only international firm in Argentina with an antitrust practice. Drawing on its significant international client base, the majority of the firm's work comes from international mergers that have an impact on Argentina. Partner Esteban Rópolo heads the practice with Gustavo Boruchowicz. Rópolo notes that aside from compliance work, the bulk of the practice's recent work has been mergers and acquisitions. The firm is advising chemical company BASF on the Argentine clearance of its purchase of Cognis, and Compañía Financiera Argentina in its acquisition by Banco de Galicia. The firm continues to advise Brazilian mining company Vale on its acquisition of an iron ore mine in Brazil that supplies the Argentine market.

Other clients include Bank of America, Procter & Gamble, Universal Leaf Tobacco, Syngenta, Colgate and Whirlpool. More recently, the practice has been advising a cable television channel in an abuse of dominance case involving several cable television operators and channels.

Brazil

Although it is part of the Baker & McKenzie empire, Trench Rossi e Watanabe generates a great deal of its work in Brazil, rather than through the firm's larger offices in the US and Europe. Who's Who nominees Tulio Freitas do Egito Coelho and Francisco Ribeiro Todorov lead the firm's extremely well-regarded antitrust practice, working with seven associates.

The team is particularly experienced in merger control work. It is advising Shell in its US$75 million acquisition of Cosan's aviation fuel distribution business and The Walt Disney Company's high profile and multi-jurisdictional sale of production company Miramax, valued at US$660 million. It is also acting in a large natural gas merger filing between subsidiaries of industry giants ENI International and Petrobras, and successfully advised Abbott Laboratories in gaining clearance for its acquisition of pharmaceutical rival Solvay.

On the cartel side, the firm continues to advise LG in the liquid crystal display panel cartel investigation, opened in Brazil in December 2009. Other major antitrust clients include General Electric, Vale, Nestlé, Whirlpool and Bridgestone Corporation.

Brussels

Fiona Carlin leads Baker & Mckenzie LLP's competition group in Europe. She is supported by two other partners, including litigation specialist Bill Batchelor, three of counsel and nine associates. Joost Haans, former lead antitrust lawyer at Phillips, joined the practice this year as counsel.

In 2010, the firm secured a €10 million reduction in fine for agribusiness company Archer Daniels Midland in the citric acid cartel case, after almost a decade of litigation before the commission and European courts. It advised Mitsubishi Electric in the commission's alleged DRAM cartel investigation, and represented Abbott Laboratories on its acquisition of Solvay's pharmaceutical business.

Baker & Mckenzie also advised the Polish Emissions Trading Authority in its successful judicial review of a European Commission decision in the Court of First Instance. The case led to the annulment of a commission measure that had attempted to reduce emission-trading rights allocated to Poland.

Colombia

International law firm Baker & McKenzie Colombia has had a presence in the country since 1937. The practice is regarded as one of the most successful Baker & McKenzie offices in Latin America, and a key part of the firm's South American offering. Carolina Pardo heads the competition team, working alongside three other partners and three associates with competition expertise. The practice consists mostly of merger cases - the practice is strongly tied to the firm's M&A department and also benefits from Baker & McKenzie's extensive international network.

The firm has been lobbying hard to make the revised merger regime more workable - the authority has yet to issue any merger guidelines. Pardo and her team have been working on Philip Morris's bid for Protobaco. Other clients include BASF, BAT, Groupe SEB, Nike, Telefónica, Schering-Plough and Abbott.

Czech Republic

Alexandr Cesar leads international firm Baker & McKenzie's Czech competition practice. He leads a group of five specialists, including senior associate Marek Kreisl. The practice serves a number of the firm's international clients and deals with behavioural cases as well as private competition litigation.

The team is representing Mitsubishi Electric before the ECJ in connection with the Czech investigation of the gas insulated switchgear cartel. They also continue to represent Ceskoslovenska obchodní banka, the country's largest bank, in its litigation against the Czech government regarding state aid granted prior to the country's accession to the EU. The team is active in the merger field, representing various clients on merger matters including Tatra heavy truck manufacturer, CS Cargo and Archer Daniels Midland.

It is also representing Telefónica O2, the country's largest telecoms company, in several competition matters, including litigation against the competition authority, and in private abuse of dominance actions. The team has also been involved in a series of dawn raids, including matters connected with the Commission's dawn raid of CEZ, the Czech power giant, and J&T, a private equity investor.

Germany

Baker & McKenzie's German antitrust practice is led by partner Andreas Traugott. Last year the firm recruited partner Nicolas Kredel, who joined from Hengeler Mueller.

Merger work remains a focus of the 13-strong team. It has recently advised Platinum Equity Group on the acquisition of Germany's ECKA. Advising dominant clients is one of the group's strengths; the practice recently worked for a large German media company in a dominance case, while pharmaceuticals and chemicals are an important industry focus. Compliance advice to large multinationals is also a growing area.

The group represents WABCO and Ideal Standard companies in the European Commission's bathroom fittings cartel case, and on its subsequent appeal against the fines imposed. The team also advised Leica Camera on the implementation of a worldwide selective distribution system.

Hungary

Baker & McKenzie's Budapest office fields a very strong team of two partners and four associates who devote practically all of their time to competition matters. Zoltán Hegymegi-Barakonyi leads the group. A nominee to The International Who's Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists, Barakonyi is oft cited as the country's leading antitrust lawyer. Partner and co-head of the Budapest practice, Péter Vörös, also wins accolades from peers.

The team spends about half its time representing clients in merger control, cartel and abuse of dominance cases before both the national competition authority and the European Commission. The remainder is spent offering compliance advice.

Baker & McKenzie represented a bank in the multilateral interchange fees investigation, as well as advising banks in dominance cases related to fees and loan agreements. It has also advised companies in the telecommunications, construction, energy and retail sectors.

The firm acts for Artisjus, the Hungarian collecting society for authors, which is challenging the European Commission's ruling in the CISAC case before the European Court of Justice. It represents Magyar Telecom, the incumbent telecoms operator and a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, as the company challenges the competition authority's decision to block its acquisition of a cable television operator.

Allianz Hungária Biztosító, the leading Hungarian insurance company, is another client. Baker & McKenzie is acting for the company in a landmark competition case, in which the Hungarian Supreme Court has requested a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice for the first time in a competition law procedure.

Japan

Baker & McKenzie has established itself as a major player in Japan's antitrust landscape since launching its stand-alone practice in Tokyo in 2007. The team has more than trebled in size over the year, now boasting six partners and nine associates. The firm says the integration of partner Fumio Koma and his team from Asahi Koma Law Offices was integral to its growth and high profile.

Unsurprisingly, the firm's activities have significantly increased in tandem with the practice's expansion, with litigious matters at the forefront. It is advising several major Japanese companies in national and international cartel proceedings in the construction, semiconductor, and chemical industries. In particular, the firm has filed several leniency applications on behalf of clients in cartel investigations before the JFTC.

The mergers practice also reflects Baker McKenzie's multi-jurisdictional outlook. The firm helped a large foreign chemical company purchase assets from a rival in several countries, and a French company acquire shares in a joint venture between Japanese cladding tube manufacturers. The Tokyo office continues to receive a steady stream of competition work through Baker McKenzie's enormous client base.

Poland

Marcin Kolasinski now heads the team at Baker & McKenzie after originally being hired by Marta Sendrowicz. “He's young and talented, and has experience of working at the authority,” one peer says. Kolasinski is supported by one other associate. The group is currently undertaking a lot of work in the pharmaceuticals sector, especially in the distribution area, as well as in abuse of dominance cases. The team is appealing on behalf of a rubber trader that was fined by the European Commission. It is also advising dominant companies on infrastructure projects, and work to ensure that bids for public tenders comply with competition law.

The group has also acted on a recent merger in the cinema industry, as well as advising on franchising and distribution strategies in the clothing sector. The firm provides general competition advice to the Polish Association of Branded Goods Manufacturers - ProMarka - as well as to the Polish Automotive Industry Association. On the merger side, the firm has represented Penta Investments, Ahold and private equity funds managed by AIG and PineBridge Investments. The team is also very active in building compliance programmes. The firm has conducted state aid work for BDN (Bauer group), Sharp, Dell and Mondi.

Russia

Baker & McKenzie's Moscow team has thrived over the past two years and now includes seven lawyers. Partner Marat Mouradov is the competition practice's head. He rejoined the firm as a partner in 2007, and was made head of competition in Moscow last year. Five associates, including senior associate Nadia Goreslavskaya, make up the rest of the team. Senior associates Dmitry Yetermin and Anton Subbot were hired last year.

Around half of the team's work is focused on mergers, while the other half is dedicated to antitrust litigation, abuse of dominance and other behavioural issues. The firm has an impressive roster of international clients, including Alcoa, Weatherford International and Kraft Foods.

Over the past 12 months, the firm represented Acer in an FAS investigation of concerted practices in the market for notebook computers. It advised Baltika Breweries on several antimonopoly litigation proceedings in Russian state courts regarding the removal of vertical restraints from supply agreements.

Baker & McKenzie also acted for China Investment Corporation on its US$300 million acquisition of an oil and gas joint venture within Russia's Nobel Oil Group.

Sweden

Partner Leif Gustafsson is in charge of competition work out of Baker & McKenzie's Stockholm office. Four associates are also fully ensconced in antitrust work, splitting their time equally between cartel, litigation, state aid and public procurement matters. The practice works closely with its Brussels counterpart on cross-border matters, says Gustafsson, and is set to grow in the near future.

The firm acted for a third party to prevent a proposed merger of department stores NK Kosmetik and Åhléns. The deal was abandoned last year. The team does a large amount of state aid and procurement work, notably for clients in the energy, pharmaceutical and food industries. Last year, it advised three energy companies, including Chemrec, on state aid applications to the European Commission. It advised both Vattenfall and Ekfors on abuse of dominance allegations.

On the compliance side, Baker & McKenzie conducts international feasibility surveys in the Nordic countries for international businesses, advising on potential competition issues and available remedies.

Switzerland

Partners Philippe Reich and Peter Reinert co-head Baker & McKenzie's Swiss competition group in Zurich. The eight-strong team has an impressive roster of clients, including pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, private equity firm Permira, and international bank Crédit Agricole.

Reinert says the amount of cartel and dominance-related work has increased significantly in recent years, since the competition commission has taken a more aggressive stance and brought more cases.

The firm is advising Estée Lauder in the commission's investigation of the luxury perfumes and cosmetics market, and Panalpina in the freight forwarding probe.

In merger work, the team represented Romande Energie in the first joint venture following the partial liberalisation of the Swiss electricity supply market. It advised Crédit Agricole on its joint venture with BNP Paribas, as well as Bank Julius Baer in its acquisition of ING Bank Switzerland.

It also advised the Swiss government on an abuse of dominance case in relation to public procurement bids for helicopter construction.

United Kingdom

Meanwhile, Who's Who nominee Samantha Mobley leads the competition team at Baker & McKenzie LLP. The practice now has seven partners, two of whom focus solely on competition litigation: Tom Cassels and Richard Pike, who was made up in 2010. Helen Bardell left the group in August to take up a senior in-house role at Lloyds Banking Group, and two new associates joined last year.

Among the group's notable work last year, Baker & McKenzie defended Royal Dutch Shell in the UK's High Court in follow-on litigation stemming from the paraffin wax cartel. It acted on the DRAM settlement for Mitsubishi Electric before the European Commission, and it continues to advise the BBC Trust on internet TV joint venture Project Canvas.

L'Oréal has been added to the merger control roster of clients this year, with a series of deals flowing as a result. The firm also represented Platinum Equity on several deals, including the purchase of Delphi Corporation, and Atlas Electronik on its acquisition of certain Qinetiq businesses.

United States: Illinois

The seven-partner, eight-associate antitrust team at Baker & McKenzie LLP is led by Patrick Ahern and includes Roxane Busey, William Linklater and Thomas Campbell - all Who's Who nominees. The practice works closely with its other US and global offices, advising companies around the country and sending its Chicago-area clients to its teams in Washington, DC and elsewhere when necessary. "This firm, in my view, is more national and global," Busey says. Over the past year, the firm has advised Bemis in 13 different price-fixing class actions around the country, CareCore National in antitrust litigation alleging it restricted access to its health care network, Stanford Health in its consolidation with MeritCare Health System, and many other cases.

United States: New York

The three-partner New York antitrust team of Baker & McKenzie LLP function as part of the megafirm's larger global antitrust practice, with what local practice leader Charles Critchlow calls a “heavy international focus.” Six associates also assist with antitrust work.

The team has made a name for itself over the past few years in a handful of high-profile deals and litigations, including advising Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical in an alleged vitamin C cartel case in which Hebei, the main defendant, claims that the Chinese government mandated the pricing practices. The team is also defending Baldwin Filters in more than 50 class actions in the aftermarket automotive filter industry, and Panalpina in a freight forwarding cartel probe, among other matters.

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