GCR 100 - 13th Edition

White & Case

28 November 2012

The global competition group at White & Case is the king of the novel antitrust case.

12. White & Case

Global heads: J Mark Gidley
Home jurisdiction: United States
Total size of firm: 1,906
No. of competition specialists: 177
Percentage of competition specialists: 9
Who’s Who Legal nominees: 9
Partners: 35
Percentage of partners in Who’s Who Legal: 26
Senior associates: 50
Associates: 69
Counsel and consultants: 23
Other: 0
No. of lateral partner hires: 0
No. of partner departures: 0
No. of internal promotions: 2

For years now, the group, led by Mark Gidley, has brought a string of unique and contemplative antitrust cases that have challenged the conventional wisdom at the antitrust agencies and broken new ground in court, and the results have been mostly positive. The past year has confirmed the firm’s ability to win appeals in Europe, and its understanding of antitrust and intellectual property in the pharmaceutical sector is arguably unmatched. The team jumped one place in our rankings, in part after it added two more Who’s Who Legal-nominated partners this year, bringing its total to nine.

The White & Case team’s string of victories in Europe is in itself outstanding. In a series of separate cases, the firm convinced the EU courts to annul antitrust fines against clients Toshiba, Unipetrol and Aragonesas, and won reductions in fines for Halcor and headline client Microsoft. Just as the GCR 100 was going to press, the team convinced the General Court to disallow part of DG Comp’s reasoning behind a dawn raid against high-voltage cable company Nexans. And although a US jury found client Toshiba guilty of fixing the price of LCD panels, the damage award was far less than the nearly-US$3 billion the plaintiffs were seeking.

The team’s long string of successes in reverse-payment settlement cases continued last year when the US Eleventh Circuit court of appeals upheld the dismissal of the FTC’s antitrust case against clients Par Pharmaceuticals and Paddock Labs in the AndroGel case that now appears destined for the Supreme Court.

On the merger front, the team has been equally as busy. It is advising Grupo Bimbo in its nearly-US$1 billion purchase of Sara Lee’s North American bread business, creating one of the largest baked goods companies on the continent.

Brussels

“We are keen to fight and win,” says Jacquelyn MacLennan, head of White & Case’s Brussels antitrust practice. Heading a group of eight partners, including three Who’s Who Legal entrants, the firm undoubtedly has one of Brussels’ leading competition teams, which is illustrated by its recent litigation history.

MacLennan and partner Axel Schulz succeeded in having annulled Toshiba’s €91 million fine for its role in the gas insulated switchgear cartel, although the commission has since reinstated new fines that may be appealed against. The firm also had a €18 million fine issued to Unipetrol in the synthetic rubber cartel case cancelled, with the EU General Court ruling that the commission’s evidence was insufficient.

Further behavioural successes include Who’s Who Legal nominee and litigation heavyweight Ian S Forrester QC, Pontus Lindfelt and Kai Struckmann gaining a General Court annulment of a €9.9 million fine jointly imposed on chemical company Aragonesas and its parent Uralita, and Forrester winning a fine reduction for Halcor in the commission’s copper tubing cartel investigation. The firm also advised Microsoft before the General Court in dismissing its €899 million abuse of dominance fine; the fine was lowered by €39 million but the main aspects of the appeal were rejected.

Schulz and Lindfelt advised pharmaceutical company Nycomed over a pay-for-delay investigation that DG Comp dropped in March have found no infringement, while partner and Who’s Who Legal entrant Mark D Powell advised Unipetrol in having its fine for alleged participation in the synthetic rubber cartel annulled entirely by the General Court. That the annulment was awarded on the grounds of shortcomings in DG Comp’s assessment of the evidence is of particular note.

White & Case is also busy on the merger front. Partner and Who’s Who Legal nominee James Killick – who was this year voted to GCR’s “40 under 40” for the second time – advised Pfizer in the US$2.4 billion sale of its Capsugel division to private equity company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and together with Schulz gained approval of DuPont’s US$6.6 billion acquisition of Danisco.

Czech Republic

White & Case’s competition practice in Prague is headed by partners Ivo Janda and Tomáš Zagar. The pair work with two counsel and two associates. The group boasts important clients such as ČEZ, Toshiba and Unipetrol, and works on a variety of competition matters.

The firm advised Toshiba in the gas insulated switchgears cartel investigations by the Czech authority and the European Commission and related court challenges. It represented the company before the Czech courts and the EU General Court, and has now taken the matter to the European Court of Justice. Another example of White & Case’s cartel work is its defence of Unipetrol and Synthos Kralupy in a European Commission investigation of alleged collusion between petrochemical companies. The EU General Court overturned DG Comp’s €17.6 million fine in 2011 and the firm is now advising Toshiba in related private litigation in Italy and Great Britain. Czech national air carrier ČSA also relies on the group for state aid advice in the restructuring and rescue plan for the company among other state aid matters.

France

Practice leader Jean-Paul Tran Thiet says the competition team at White & Case views itself primarily as a litigation practice. “We are ready to fight,” he says. Former counsel Jean-Patrice de La Laurencie left the firm and works occasionally on certain matters, leaving counsels Charles-Henri Calla and Juliette Goyer to support Tran Thiet, along with seven associates.

Of the several behavioural matters White & Case is advising on, the highest-profile is Tran Thiet’s work for L’Oréal in the competition authority’s long-running perfume case. White & Case also successfully defended port operator Terminal Porte Océane against allegations of illegal collusion with its parent company Perrigault.

Despite the litigation focus, White & Case remains busy in other areas of competition law. The firm is advising Tereos in the sale of drinks subsidiary Quartier Français Spiritueux to rival COFEPP, which the authority launched an in-depth review of in July.

Hungary

Of counsel Tihamér Tóth heads the competition group at White & Case. He works alongside two partners who also specialise in other matters: István Réczicza is also the head of the regulatory group and Ildikó Csák leads the employment law practice. 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 almost entirely 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.

White & Case advised UPC Hungary, the country’s largest cable television operator and part of international media company Liberty Global, in its acquisition of telecoms services provider RubiCom Távközlési, a three-to-two deal in several regional markets.

On the cartel side, the firm is defending banks Citibank and Fundamenta-Lakáskassza from allegations they colluded to fix mortgage interest rates. It also represents Toshiba in the global cathode ray tube case. The Hungarian authority is investigating alleged collusion before the country’s entry in the EU, while DG Comp is examining the following period. GDF Suez Energia Magyaroszág hired White & Case to conduct due diligence on competition and compliance matters.

Japan

White & Case’s Japanese antitrust team in Tokyo has a diverse range of talents that they believe give them the edge over their rivals. The core competition team includes partner Toshio Dokei, special adviser Jiro Tamura and three associates. Tamura is a professor at Keio University and has worked at both the US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. He is also a member of the JFTC’s technical assistance committee, which in association with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) helps other countries develop their competition policies.

Meanwhile, client Microsoft last year hired partner Joy Fuyuno to become its director of competition law for Asia.

As well as handling transactional and behavioural matters for the firm’s international clients, the White & Case Tokyo antitrust team also has a raft of domestic clients including Toshiba. The firm is advising clients involved in the Libor and auto parts cartel cases, among others.

What’s more, the team is currently handling one of the most high-profile JFTC cases, the ¥4 billion surcharge imposed on toy retailer Toys R Us for allegedly abusing its superior bargaining position.

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 team’s partnership shrunk noticeably last year from three partners to only one, Iker Arriola, while five associates assist in antitrust matters.

Over the past year, the firm has been busy advising clients in several antitrust investigations 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, and is also global coordinating counsel to Pfizer in the sale of its infant nutrition business to Nestlé. The team is also leading DuPont through its purchase of Danisco, and it is working for the Principal Financial Group in its takeover of a Mexican pension fund from HSBC.

United States: New York

Led by Robert Milne and Who’s Who Legal nominee Joseph Angland, White & Case’s nine-partner New York antitrust team continues to expand, with 31 associates now involved in antitrust work.

The team has an enduringly strong foothold in the pharmaceutical sector, where it is at the heart of much of the litigation fuelling the so-called “pay-for-delay” debate. The New York team is acting for Pfizer in several matters, including the Effexor litigation, which has recently attracted FTC intervention, and 19 class actions regarding Lipitor, the highest-selling pharmaceutical of all time. Work also continues apace for major client Novartis. The firm this year steered through the dismissal of antitrust actions brought by pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the team continues to defend the company against actions brought by health insurers. White & Case has also successfully represented Novatis affiliate Sandoz in battles with Sanofi-Aventis over contraventions of the Robinson-Patman Act.

But the New York team’s reach extends well beyond health care – it worked alongside the Washington, DC, office in helping Toshiba escape from nearly all US$2.7 damages in the first US antitrust class-action jury trial involving the extraterritorial application of the US Sherman Act. It also defended Toshiba in the TFT-LCD criminal investigation.

Poland

At White & Case, senior counsel Malgorzata Mroczkowska-Horne leads a competition team that also includes one counsel and one associate. 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.

It advises clients on the full range of competition issues. Those clients include both domestic and international companies: Arval, Bosch and Siemens Home Appliance, Bouygues Immobilier, CBS, KPI/Kulczyk, Liberty Global, Panasonic Europe, Pfleiderer AG, Pfleiderer Grajewo SA, Pfleiderer Prospan SA, Tradex/Volkswagen Group Polska and Vienna Insurance Group.

Russia

At White & Case, two Who’s Who Legal nominees – Grigory Chernyshov and Igor Ostapets – lead the competition practice along with four dedicated associates.

Over the past year, the firm advised Microsoft on a variety of competition law issues, including obtaining Russian merger clearance for its acquisition of Skype. It is representing OAO MTS, one of Russia’s telecoms companies, and OAO Chelyabinsk Pipe Rolling Plant in cases brought by the FAS. It continues to advise Tetra Pak on a range of antitrust issues and recently steered through South African-owned Myriad International’s partial acquisition of a “major” Russian internet company.

Slovakia

White & Case has an established presence in Slovakia and has been around longer than most of its competitors. Marek Staroň, office head, says there are two partners, one senior associate and two associates working on competition matters, but not exclusively.

The firm maintains a steady workload for major clients in Slovakia. White & Case continues to represent firm-wide client Toshiba in cartel cases concerning gas insulated switchgears and cathode ray tubes in proceedings before the Bratislava Regional Court, the Slovak Anti-monopoly Office and the Supreme Court.

The team is also advising investment company 1. garantovaná, which was fined by the European Commission for an infringement of Article 101 TFEU by one of its subsidiaries. White & Case appealed to the General Court to annul the decision of the Commission. This is one of the most important competition cases involving a Slovak company. The client was equally represented by teams from the Bratislava and Brussels offices.

The firm also provided merger control advice POSCO, Huhtamäki Oyj and Unibail-Rodamco, and various competition advice to Slovakia’s Ministry of Economy.

United States: Government Antitrust

The antitrust team at White & Case, led by Who’s Who Legal nominee J Mark Gidley, continued its consistent work on some of the most novel and thought-provoking antitrust cases in the country. The group has made its name taking on some of the most high-profile antitrust matters in the country, year in, year out. Pharmaceutical cases continue to be something of a speciality, but the talented team handles all varieties of competition cases across numerous industries.

The firm made headlines over the past year for its representation of Toshiba in one of the only price-fixing litigations to ever go to trial. The result wasn’t perfect – a jury found the company guilty of fixing the price of LCD panels and awarded the plaintiffs US$250 million in damages. But the firm says that’s far less than the US$2.7 billion that the plaintiffs had requested, and whether Toshiba will have to pay the damages remains in question. The team also advised aftermarket auto lights maker DEPO in a DoJ cartel cases, reaching a favourable settlement. On the merger front, the team advised Fougera Pharmaceuticals in its acquisition by Sandoz, Grupo Bimbo in its purchase of Sara Lee’s North American bread business, and other matters.

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