GCR 100 - 14th Edition

Baker & McKenzie

03 December 2013

Baker & McKenzie is GCR 100’s most international firm.

13. Baker & McKenzie

Global heads:

Samantha Mobley

Home jurisdiction: United States
Total size of firm: 5,414
No. of competition specialists: 323
Percentage of competition specialists: 6
Who’s Who Legal nominees: 13
Partners: 124
Percentage of partners/counsel in Who’s Who Legal: 9
Senior associates: 60
Associates: 97
Counsel and consultants: 17
Other: 9
No. of lateral partner hires: 5
No. of partner departures: 5
No. of internal promotions: 3

It features in 27 jurisdictions – more than double its nearest rival – and continues to expand its global footprint. The firm this year received its first mention in our New York chapter, while its Taiwan and Indonesian practices were included in our first cover­age of these jurisdictions. The firm enjoys affiliation agreements with several national firms, including leading Turkish firm Esin Attorney Partnership, which accounts for two of the firm’s 13 Who’s Who Legal nominations. The firm promoted four to partnership this year – in Poland, Switzerland, Thailand and Taiwan – and made five lateral partner hires, including Adrienne Pitts who joined the Chicago office from Sidley Austin. Five partners departed the firm last year, the most significant of which was Stephen Harris, formerly head of the US competition practice, who announced his move to Winston & Strawn in October.

The firm’s European merger work is impressive. Brussels leader Fiona Carlin acted for FedEx in its intervention as an opponent to the UPS/TNT merger, which was ultimately dropped by the parties after DG Comp expressed opposition. The group also acted for Group Canal+ on the acquisition of control of Poland’s largest television company, and acted for Crane, an American industrial manufacturer, on the merger control aspects of the US$820 million acquisition of MEI Group.

Across the Atlantic, several partners in Washington, DC represented Phoebe Putney Health System, obtaining a settle­ment in a merger that the FTC had fought all the way to the Supreme Court in August. Partner Katherine Funk helped dialysis company Fresenius Medical Care buy Liberty Dialysis holdings after the companies agreed to sell off 60 clinics in 43 local markets. In litigation, the New York team acted for Chinese pharmaceutical Hebei, which met with a US$162 million damage bill in March, ending a case that involved nearly a decade of pre-trial motions, legal wrangling and an un­precedented intervention by the Chinese government.

Argentina

Baker & McKenzie is the only international law firm in Argentina with an antitrust practice, which is headed by Esteban Rópolo, a specialist in antitrust and trade law. He is helped by two associates, while two partners work on antitrust matters part-time. While the local merger market is shrinking, international deals continue to provide steady work. Over the past year, Rópolo represented chemical group BASF in the US$1 billion acquisition of agrochemical company Becker Underwood, and advised GE in its acquisition of Lufkin Industries. On the behavioural front, Rópolo advised BASF in an abuse of dominance probe involving Bayer, with which the company had a patent deal, and continues to advise on other abuse cases besides.

Australia

Who’s Who Legal nominee Andrew Christopher leads the three-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. On the transactional side, the firm is advising the ACCC in its merger review of Woolworth’s acquisition of a greenfield supermarket site in New South Wales and is acting for French conglomerate Louis Dreyfus Commodities on acquisition of a minority interest in cotton company Namoi Cotton and in its joint venture with the company. The firm is also lead counsel to MasterCard in its joint application with Visa for authorisation of a “PIN@POS” mandate. Foster, meanwhile is advising the New South Wales treasury on the privatisation of the state’s electricity assets.

Austria

Who’s Who Legal nominee Andreas Traugott left DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach to establish Baker & McKenzie’s Austrian competition practice in 2009, followed soon after by associate Marc Lager. Despite being a relative newcomer, the leading international firm is making its mark on the Viennese competition scene.

On the cartel side, the team is acting for Schindler in the authority’s escalator cartel investigation and in follow-on damage claims, including related preliminary proceedings before the ECJ. The firm is representing a range of confidential clients in other cartel probes, including in the food, electronic goods and sanitary sectors; and is defending a major financial institution against private enforcement claims before Austria’s civil courts.

In merger work, the team is working alongside the firm’s German and Turkish offices representing a record investment by a Chinese company – Weichai Power’s acquisition of a share in KION, Europe’s largest forklift-truck manufacturer.

Brussels

Who’s Who Legal nominee Fiona Carlin leads Baker & McKenzie’s competition team in Brussels. The practice’s four partners work with clients including Unilever, General Motors and Allianz Insurance. Carlin and partner Edward Batchelor advised WabCo when they achieved a €203 million fine reduction from the European General Court for its role in a bathroom fittings cartel. Carlin also advised courier service FedEx when it successfully challenged the proposed merger between rivals UPS and TNT Express. The commission agreed with FedEx and blocked the deal. The firm, together with White & Case, also advised Aegean Airlines on its acquisition of Olympic Air.

Chile

Partners Rodrigo Díaz de Valdés and Ignacio Garcia lead the Chilean arm of Baker & McKenzie’s competition empire. The sizeable group is supported by one other partner, of counsel Antonio Ortúzar and three associates. The firm has had a very busy year in behavioural matters. It is currently assisting the Chilean government in the first-ever class action filed for damages to consumers resulting from a collusion case and also advises Nokia in a lawsuit accusing the company of multiple antitrust crimes, including colluding with rivals and abuses of a dominant position. Baker & McKenzie also remains active in investigations, representing Whirlpool Chile in the FNE’s compressors cartel investigation, and securing success for Grupo Security in an investigation triggered by a deal with Cruz del Sur, another large Chilean bank.

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

Over the past year, the firm’s Bogotá office assisted DHS Energy Service in an asset purchase that required a pre-merger filing with the authority, and provided competition law advice, assistance and training to several companies in the energy and industrial sectors, including chemicals company BASF Química Colombiana. Other antitrust clients include Toshiba, CGL and OTIS.

Czech Republic

Partner Alexandr César leads Baker & McKenzie’s Czech competition practice, assisted by associate Kateřina Schenková. They are helped by other lawyers from time to time. 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 won court cases against the Czech and Slovak authorities on behalf of Mitsubishi Electric in the gas insulated switchgear cartel case. It also 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 Telefónica Czech Republic and private equity firm Penta Investment in several acquisitions.

Germany

Business is thriving once more at Baker & McKenzie, according to competition practice head Christian Horstkotte. The firm has an active merger control practice, with a particular focus on Chinese investment. Baker & McKenzie represented machinery company Putzmeister in the FCO’s Phase I clearance of its takeover by China’s Sany, and also Weichai in its acquisition of German forklift truck manufacturer Kion – two of the most significant Chinese investments in Germany. The firm also advised on mergers in the building and dairy sectors and is representing sportswear company Asics in antitrust issues regarding its distribution network.

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 & 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 successfully represented incumbent gas company MVM Zrt when Hungary’s Competition Authority decided to take its acquisition of two E.ON subsidiaries to Phase II. By far the largest deal in Hungary in the last year, it also gained clearance in Germany, Austria and Romania, among others – all orchestrated by the team in Hungary. In contentious matters, Vörös represents leading insurance company Allianz as it seeks to overturn the highest ever fine imposed by the competition authority. The enforcer fined Allianz in 2006 for vertical restrictions, and the case is currently waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court after obtaining a favourable ruling from the European Court of Justice. The team also successfully represented collecting society Artisjus before the EU’s General Court as part of the CISAC case, in which the European Commission challenged the behaviour of all EU collecting societies regarding the licensing of musical works. The court struck out the decisions Artisjus challenged and the commission is not appealing.

On the compliance side, the firm is currently working for a large Japanese car company that directs European operations from Hungary, helping it draft new distribution agreements for cars and car parts under the new EU legislative framework, and structuring the network to comply with competition laws.

Japan

Baker & McKenzie’s Tokyo office was created in 2007 when the international network firm hired Fumio Koma, founder of Asahi Koma Law Offices. Kei Matsumoto, an intellectual property specialist, was recently promoted to partner. 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. The firm is also advising a multinational chemical company over alleged bid rigging on materials used in the construction sector.

Netherlands

Baker & McKenzie’s competition practice is led by counsel Misha lutje Beerenbroek. The team focuses primarily on behavioural matters, and litigation partner Frank Kroes has built a strong reputation for defending clients in civil damages actions. The firm is defending Shell and Mitsubishi in private litigation cases following cartel decisions by the European Commission. The commission fined Shell for its part in the paraffin wax cartel, in which the cartelists are jointly and severally liable. The commission fined Mitsubishi for participating in the elevator cartel. In addition, Baker & McKenzie represented both sides in the merger of the second and third largest funeral insurers in the Netherlands.

Poland

Pharmaceuticals is one of the major strengths of Baker & McKenzie’s competition practice, says practice head and sole partner Marcin Kolasinski. On top of this, Kolasinski advised Canal Plus Group in its acquisition of the free-to-air and pay-TV businesses of ITI Group, one of Poland’s biggest media groups. After filing the deal with DG Comp and negotiating a complex review process where the case was referred back to the UOKiK, Baker & McKenzie secured an unconditional clearance.

Russia

Baker & McKenzie’s Moscow practice is led by Nadia Goreslavskaya and Anton Subbot. Three associates work alongside them. Goreslavskaya heads up the merger control side of the practice, while Subbot typically handles the contentious work. The Baker & McKenzie team provides the full range of comp­etition services – including many public procurement-related cases. It represented a European pharmaceutical distributor accused of colluding with rivals for a tender – the case involved parallel criminal charges. And the firm recently represented a supermarket chain dawn raided by the FAS. Clients include Acer, Philips, Weatherford, Alcoa, Ford Motor Co, China Investment Corp, Siemens AG and North-West Telecom.

Spain

Baker & McKenzie’s Spanish competition team is split between Madrid and Barcelona. Partner Carles Prat heads the practice in Barcelona while partner Alberto Escudero leads in Madrid, having departed a position of senior associate in Garrigues in November. He replaces José Antonio de la Calle, who departed the firm at the end of 2012 to set up his own antitrust boutique. In Barcelona, Prat specialises in behavioural matters, particularly involving the interface between IP and antitrust, while fellow Barcelona-based partner Vanessa Enrich takes on mostly merger matters and vertical restraints work.

 The firm takes on regular work for motorcycle manufacturer Montesa-Honda, including in relation to an information exchange probe by the CNMC; and a successful appeal against a €2.1 million fine for cartel activity, which the Audiencia Nacional annulled after agreeing that the information gathered by the authority exceeded the scope of its search warrant.

Litigation work includes challenging a CNC market-sharing decision against civil engineering companies CTT-Stronghold and VSL SPAM. The firm advised gift box company Smart & Coin in the acquisition of its main competitor, La Vida Es Bella, and acted for Stirling in relation to the acquisition of the business of CartonPlast Group. The team also advised fertiliser producers Térvalis and Roullier on the competition aspects of a merger in over 30 jurisdictions.

Sweden

At Baker & McKenzie 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 six associates.

The firm 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. It is also acting for Göteborg Energi in its application for state aid to finance its gas production plant.

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

Both heads of Baker & McKenzie’s competition practice, Philipp Reich and Peter Reinert, are nominated to Who’s Who Legal. The firm is another to have a significant competition offering in Geneva, and senior counsel Roger Zäch is a former vice chairman of ComCo. The firm acted for Panalpina in the freight forwarding case, which it settled with the commission. Baker & McKenzie is also advising Estée Lauder in its appeal against ComCo’s decision in an information exchange case, and is representing a pharmaceutical company and a media conglomerate in abuse of dominance proceedings. Reinert is advising a company in its appeal against the European Commission’s window fittings cartel decision.

Taiwan

Baker & McKenzie has one of Taiwan’s leading antitrust practices, a fact recognised by most of its peers, GCR found. Partner H Henry Chang heads the team of four partners and seven associates.

Chang and his team grabbed headlines for advising a technology company on submitting the first ever leniency application to the Fair Trade Commission, which gave rise to the optical disc drive cartel investigation. The authority’s leniency programme was only introduced at the beginning of 2012.

More recently, Baker & McKenzie has been advising independent power plants Ho-Ping Power Company and Chiahui Power Company over alleged collusion on selling electricity to state-owned Taiwan Power Company. The power plants were fined NT$6.2 billion – the largest fine issued by the FTC to date by some margin.

Behavioural matters are a significant part of Baker & McKenzie’s workload. Chang says the firm is also acting in price-fixing investigations in the fresh milk, pharmaceuticals and car parts market and advised Sony in an abuse of dominance matter over issuing patent licences for rewritable CDs.

Regarding mergers, the firm is acting for Stanley Black & Decker in its acquisition of Tung Lung Metal, and paper company Yuen Foong Yu in its merger with rival Chung Hwa Pulp. Several other matters, including international cartel work, are ongoing.

United Kingdom

Baker & McKenzie’s seven-partner London competition team is led by Who’s Who Legal nominee Samantha Mobley. The team also has two consultants and 18 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, and the firm has been heavily involved in the car parts cartel.

It prides itself on its strong relationships with British American Tobacco, L’Oréal, Accenture and McCormick, having become strategic advisers on a regional or global basis. On the merger control front, it acted for Antalis in its acquisition of Xerox, which was cleared with commitments.

United States: Government Antitrust

The DC-based antitrust team at global leader Baker & McKenzie has grown significantly over the past few years and aims to continue the expansion as business grows. The team suffered a significant blow this year when North American practice leader H Stephen Harris departed the firm. Still, partners Katherine Funk, Brian Burke and Lee Van Voorhis remain, and business in the DC office appears to have remained steady over the past year.

The list of matters handled by partners in the DC office is indeed impressive. Van Voorhis advised Phoebe Putney Health System in its administrative case before the FTC that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. Funk and partner Brian Burke did what they could to help PLX Technology to close its two-to-one deal with Integrated Device Technology before FTC pressure forced the parties to walk away. The Baker & McKenzie team is also acting for Maxim Integrated Products in its proposed acquisition of Volterra Semiconductor, along with other merger clients.

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.

The Chicago team specialises in antitrust class action defences, and Ahern is currently lead counsel to parties in processed eggs, polyurethane foam mushrooms and potatoes litigation, among others. The firm is also involved in several DoJ investigations, including representing an individual in the Puerto Rican 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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