GCR 100 - 13th Edition

Baker & McKenzie

28 November 2012

The largest competition group in the Global Elite, Baker & McKenzie has had another successful year.

14. Baker & McKenzie

Global heads: Samantha Mobley, Andrew Christopher, Fiona Carlin, Francisco Todorov, Steve Harris
Home jurisdiction: United States
Total size of firm: 5,270
No. of competition specialists: 315
Percentage of competition specialists: 6
Who’s Who Legal nominees: 9
Partners: 120
Percentage of partners in Who’s Who Legal: 8
Senior associates: 78
Associates: 81
Counsel and consultants: 16
Other: 20
No. of lateral partner hires: 2
No. of partner departures: 4
No. of internal promotions: 3

Given the size of the partnership some shuffling is unsurprising and the firm hired two new partners that added depth across its huge global network. Zumrut Esin joined as a partner in Istanbul and Morné van der Merwe was hired to the partnership in Johannesburg. Four partners departed Baker & McKenzie, while three were promoted this year: Morvarid Dorkhan Nilsson in Stockholm, and Anna Gamvros and Clara Ingen-Housz in Hong Kong. London partner Gavin Bushell was also nominated to GCR’s “40 under 40”.

The firm’s litigation practice has been very busy, particularly in the UK. Partners Richard Pike and Luis Gomez are regular counsel to oil company Shell, and successfully defended it in a Competition Appeal Tribunal case against the OFT’s tobacco cartel case. Pike and Gomez also represented Shell in follow-on litigation in the UK regarding the paraffin wax cartel. Several partners including Ross Denton in London and Kurt Haegeman in Brussels are acting for Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in an EU General Court appeal against the reinstatement of a European Commission fine for the switchgear cartel.

Across the Atlantic, the firm’s US practice also has its hands full. In Chicago, the team is working for plaintiffs across several cases, including the egg, potatoes and polyurethane foam antitrust litigation matters. In New York, partner Doug Tween is lead counsel to Panalpina in the US freight forwarding cartel proceedings, a global case in which Baker & McKenzie is advising the company in more than 12 jurisdictions, demonstrating the value of its truly global practice.

Merger work has also been plentiful. Baker & McKenzie represented IFCO Systems in the US$1.3 billion sale of its pallet and recycled plastic containers businesses to rival Brambles. Switzerland-based partner Philippe Reich acted for Socar Energy in its acquisition of Esso Switzerland, while Washington, DC, partner Lee Van Voorhis is representing Phoebe Putney Health System in its high-profile proposed tie-up with Palmyra Park Hospital. The FTC is opposing the deal in court.

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.

The team has handled both behavioural matters and major merger filings over the past year. On the behavioural side, the firm has been defending Bausch & Lomb from an abuse of dominance lawsuit brought by a former distributor, alleging wrongdoing in the contact lens and cleaning solution markets. Meanwhile, the firm is advising BASF in a number of matters, including the defence of a dominance case brought by a chemicals distributor, and compliance seminars given to Wintershall Energía, its oil and gas subsidiary. The team is also advising Nobleza Piccardo in a real estate deal.

 

Australia

Who’s Who Legal nominee Andrew Christopher leads the five-partner competition practice at Baker & McKenzie. Partner Georgina Foster specialises in disputes and litigation, while Ross McLean has particular expertise in intellectual property matters. They are supported by seven associates.

The practice has been busy on the behavioural front. Christopher and Foster are representing chemical company Bayer in private litigation regarding an alleged global rubber cartel that affected Australian consumers, and the firm is also advising in continuing cartel probes in the submarine cable and IT software markets.

Most notably in transactional work is Baker & McKenzie’s representation of Ecolab on the Australian aspects of its US$8.1 billion tie-up with Nalco, which the ACCC cleared in December. The firm also acted for waste services company Sita in its acquisition of New South Wales government-owned WSN Environmental Solutions for A$235 million.

Belgium

Baker & McKenzie practice head Kurt Haegeman led a team that acted for an undisclosed company that intervened in the Belgacom/Phone House merger. Their arguments relating to the deal’s anti-competitive aspects played an important part in the authority’s subsequent divestment/behavioural remedies order.

The firm also secured the acquittal of eye care company Alcon in cartel and abuse of dominance proceedings before the authority.

Haegeman is currently representing a multinational supplier in the authority’s investigation into hub-and-spoke practices in the grocery sector, a multinational supplier in the authority’s investigation in the fast-moving retail sector, and a company in the authority’s investigation into anti-competitive practices by stevedoring operators in the major Belgian ports.

Other Belgium-based clients include KBC Bank, Pioneer Europe, Carglass and Mercator Insurance.

Brussels

Baker & McKenzie’s Brussels competition team, led by Who’s Who Legal nominee Fiona Carlin, is well known for its cartel defence capabilities. This reputation was boosted when partner Kurt Haegeman (and Ross Denton in London) managed to have Mitsubishi’s €119 million gas insulated switchgear fine annulled at the EU General Court last year. DG Comp recalculated the fine in 2012, but at €43 million lower than it was originally, the team no doubt kept its client happy.

The firm’s clients in DG Comp investigations of the automotive parts, window fittings and other sectors will be hoping for similar results.

But it’s not all cartel work at Baker & McKenzie. The team reports a raft of merger control work coming through and says that it expects to be kept busy by the commission’s pharmaceutical sector enquiries. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations is one of Carlin’s clients.

Chile

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

The firm has had a very busy year in behavioural matters. It is currently advising Nokia in a lawsuit accusing the company of multiple antitrust crimes, including colluding with rivals and abuses of a dominant position. The team also remains active for Whirlpool Chile in the FNE’s compressors cartel investigation, and is advising Abercrombie & Kent in a cartel matter that saw the antitrust tribunal overturn an FNE fine and find that some cartel behaviour should be reviewed under the rule of reason. Other clients include Colgate-Palmolive and Grupo Security.

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 Colombia office, which was established in 1937, is one of Baker & McKenzie’s most successful Latin American offices.

This year, the team advised fuel technology company Cummins on a vertical takeover of one of its distributors and counselled regular client Total on its sale of oil and gas extraction company Tempa. The firm gives regular antitrust advice to several international clients, including counselling BASF on a potential joint venture in Colombia and providing advice and compliance training to Brenntag and Toshiba.

Czech Republic

Partner Alexandr César leads Baker & McKenzie’s Czech competition practice, assisted by three associates. Dispute resolution head Martin Hrodek also works on private competition litigation. The firm says part of its workload consists of advising clients on compliance and their day-to-day transactions with customers, in addition to providing advice in investigations and court proceedings.

The group is representing Mitsubishi Electric before the European Court of Justice, requesting legal clarification on referral issues regarding the Czech gas insulated switchgears investigation. It defended LG Electronics in the cathode ray tubes cartel investigation by the Czech and Slovak competition authorities, which eventually declined to fine the company. The probe was conducted in parallel to the EU case. On the merger side, the competition practice advised companies such as Telefonica Czech Republic and private equity firm Penta Investment in several acquisitions.

Germany

Baker & McKenzie’s German competition practice has continued to grow after its previous team left in 2010 to open boutique Commeo. Practice head Christian Horstkotte, who joined from Freshfields in 2011 and partner Nicolas Kredel work together with three other partners, who focus on specific segments of competition work and seven associates. The firm says it also counts on an in-house team of competition economists led by Stephan Schnorberger.

The team spends an equal amount of time on merger control and cartel cases, with abuse matters as a third pillar. It defended coffee maker Segafredo Zanetti in a German cartel case, now under appeal, as well as window mountings manufacturer Siegenia-Aubi and plastic pipe maker Tessenderlo Chemie before the European Commission. It also advised concrete pumps company Putzmeister in its sale to its Chinese competitor Sany.

Hungary

Baker & McKenzie’s Budapest competition practice is jointly led by Zoltán Hegymegi-Barakonyi – a nominee to The International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists – and Péter Vörös. Their team, which includes four associates, is praised as one of the best in the country by their peers. The firm says it has been active in the Hungarian market for more than 20 years.

The competition practice’s lawyers divide their time between cartel work, merger control filings and abuse of dominance cases before the Hungarian Competition Authority and the European Commission. Compliance work is also an important part of the firm’s activity.

This year, Baker & McKenzie obtained the dismissal of a fine imposed on Magyar Telekom for alleged coordinated behaviour with competing mobile operators, after a nine-year legal battle. Magyar Telekom is the legal successor of T-Mobile, originally under investigation in the case. The company also retained the firm to challenge an authority prohibition of its acquisition of a cable television and internet service provider, which was overturned by the court.

The team defended a construction company in the first two private enforcement cases in Hungary. The Metropolitan Court of Appeal in Budapest dismissed follow-on damages claims brought on the back of bid-rigging authority decisions. A construction material producer also turned to the firm for advice in Hungarian cartel proceedings linked to a parallel case in the EU and other member states.

Baker & McKenzie advised the national railway company and another railway operator in a cartel investigation that led the authority to impose significant fines on the companies for price fixing and market sharing, and counselled one of the largest Hungarian retail banks in the authority’s probe of an alleged coordinated increase of mortgage interest rates.

Japan

Baker & McKenzie’s Tokyo office was created in 2007 when the international network firm hired Fumio Koma, founder of Asahi Koma Law Offices. Koma is joined by four partners, one counsel and around 15 associates.

Koma is bullish about Baker & McKenzie’s strength in the Japanese market: the firm has the manpower and resources to devise a coordinated, international response to a dawn raid, something that few of the firm’s domestic competitors can match, he says.

Koma says he tends to work with more domestic companies than foreign ones, especially given Japanese companies’ keenness to buy to acquire businesses in South East Asia, China and Brazil at the moment.

Like many of the firm’s antitrust teams, the Tokyo practice has a particularly strong cartel defence capability and is working with companies involved in the ball bearings, automobile parts, gas-insulated switchgear, wire harnesses and marine hose cases.

Netherlands

Baker & McKenzie’s two-partner, four-associate competition practice is led by Misha lutje Beerenbroek. The team focuses primarily on behavioural matters, and litigation partner Frank Kroes has built a reputation for defending clients in civil damages actions – the firm was recently appointed as oil company Shell’s defence counsel in follow-on actions relating to DG Comp’s paraffin wax cartel case.

The team was also successful in defending one of its key clients – Belron/Carglass – in an NMa investigation concerning alleged abuse of a dominant position. And Beerenbroek and Kroes are representing Mitsubishi Elevator Europe in civil follow-on actions in the Netherlands with respect to DG Comp’s elevators and escalators cartel case.

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 team is understandably proud of its work on the acquisition by Canal Plus Group of control of the free-to-air business and pay-TV business of one of Poland’s biggest private media groups, ITI Group. While the corporate part of the deal was handled by another firm, Baker & McKenzie was chosen to handle difficult merger control notifications which it says were decisive for the success of the transaction.

Russia

At Baker & McKenzie, Nadia Goreslavskaya and Anton Subbot now co-lead the practice following the departure of Marat Muradov to Salans. Despite lacking a partner, the practice boasts an impressive roster of international clients, including Alcoa, Philips, Carlsberg, Acer and Ford.

The team last year acted for Danish insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk in settlement negotiations with the FAS and defended Siemens against abuse of dominance allegations. It is also advised Novatek in DG Comp’s review and ultimate approval of the Yamal LNG joint venture. Other confidential matters include representing a multinational electronics and medical equipment manufacturer and a beer manufacturer in antitrust investigations. Regular clients include Weatherford, Philips and Ford Motor Company.

Spain

Baker & McKenzie’s Spanish competition group is headed by Carles Prat. The firm lost its Spanish co-head José Antonio de la Calle at the end of 2012, when de la Calle left to open his own antitrust boutique. Baker & McKenzie’s team is based in Madrid and Barcelona, and counts on three more partners and seven associates, some of whom also work on matters other than competition law.

The firm continues to focus on cartel work and has developed strong expertise representing trade associations such as the Association of Journalists of Catalonia, which is subject to a CNC price-fixing investigation. The team also advises the Barcelona Bar Association in another CNC investigation. After advising Montesa Honda in a series of CNC probes, Prat is now representing the company in two court appeals against a €2.1 million information exchange fine and a €1.4 million penalty for vertical price fixing. Other litigation work includes challenging a CNC market-sharing decision against civil engineering companies CTT-Stronghold and VSL SPAM. Baker & McKenzie also handled mergers for Agile Finance, Jazz Pharmaceutical, Goodgrover, Cobega and Damm.

Sweden

That Baker & McKenzie has taken on another partner in Sweden is an indication of the practice’s growing success. Practice head Leif Gustafasson, a former official of the European Commission’s legal service, is joined in the partnership by Stefan Bessman. They are supported by five associates.

The firm successfully defended Brunswick in a Swedish competition authority investigation of an alleged marine engine cartel; the case was dropped after six months. Bessman is also representing Keolis Sverige in a private action over breach of public procurement law – the largest damages claim ever under Sweden’s public procurement law.

Baker & McKenzie continues to provide regular competition counsel to several domestic and multinational companies, recently advising GlaxoSmithKline on a handful of distribution and compliance matters.

Switzerland

Partners Philippe Reich and Peter Reinert continue to lead the Swiss competition team at Baker & McKenzie. The eight-lawyer team handles a variety of antitrust matters. Six Zurich-based lawyers represent companies in cartel, abuse of dominance and vertical restraint investigations while also carrying out merger control and compliance work. The Zurich team includes the two partners and two senior counsel – Roger Zäch, former vice chairman of the Swiss Competition Commission, and Herbert Wohlmann, former general counsel of Clariant. Two more senior associates based in Geneva focus on distribution and cooperation agreements, mergers and acquisitions, and compliance.

The firm represents Estée Lauder in an appeal against the Swiss commission’s information exchange decision in the cosmetics cartel case and Panalpina in the authority’s freight forwarding cartel investigation. It is representing an airline in the air cargo investigation and a media agency in an abuse of dominance probe. Examples of the group’s merger control work include advising Socar Energy in its acquisition of Esso Switzerland from ExxonMobil.

United Kingdom

Baker & McKenzie’s seven-partner London competition team is led by Who’s Who Legal nominee Samantha Mobley and includes two litigation partners. The team also fields two consultants and 14 associates.

Mobley is acting for Panalpina in its appeal to the General Court over the fine imposed on it by the European Commission for participating in an alleged cartel in the freight forwarding sector.

The team represented Shell in its appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal against the OFT’s Tobacco decision, which imposed a fine on Shell and several other defendants. The OFT’s case eventually collapsed owing to the defence work carried out by Baker & McKenzie and several other firms.

Baker & McKenzie’s London and Brussels competition teams continue to work for Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in the gas insulated switchgear cartel case, appealing to the General Court against the reimposition of a fine that had previously been annulled on procedural grounds.

The firm also acted for Platinum Equity on its acquisition of control of Caterpillar Logistics, and British Airways on assessing its alliance with Japan Airlines.

British American Tobacco, Novatek and Hutchison 3G have also called on the London team this year.

United States: Illinois

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.

Ahern is lead counsel to parties in processed eggs, polyurethane foam, mushrooms and the potatoes antitrust litigation, and has recently completed his role as lead counsel for Bemis Company in the Labelstock class actions. The team is currently involved in several DoJ antitrust investigations and has been active in many of the significant government cartel investigations in the past 15 years, including vitamins, auction houses, air cargo and others. Two partners are representing an individual in the Puerto Rico Cabotage investigation.

The firm has worked on numerous pre-merger filings, especially in the energy sector. It handled the cross-border merger review for sale and joint venture between two large electronics companies, which required pre-merger analysis in Mexico, China, the EU and the US. Busey also acted for IFCO Systems in the US$1.3 billion sale of its pallet and recycled plastic container business to Brambles Limited, which was cleared by the FTC after a second request.

 

 

 

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