GCR 100 - 14th Edition

White & Case

05 December 2013

This year the firm saw the departure of London partner Alistair Graham, who left for Mayer Brown.

12. White & Case

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: 7
Partners: 36
Percentage of partners in Who’s Who Legal: 19
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: 1

White & Case prides itself on taking on some of the most challenging and novel  of antitrust cases, and this year was no exception. Led by Who’s Who Legal nominee J Mark Gidley, the team last year saw Rebecca Farrington in Washington, DC promoted to partnership.

Headline matters abound over the past year. Gidley and fellow DC partner Christopher Curran advised Toshiba in a second price-fixing jury trial – this time winning a case against claimant Best Buy by unanimous verdict. In fact, three White & Case matters found their way to the Supreme Court last year –K-Dur, AndroGel and Mississippi AG v Toshiba.

In the pharmaceutical sector, the firm remains particularly strong. It is advising Pfizer in the Effexor litigation and numerous class actions regarding Lipitor, the best-selling drug of all time. The team is also counsel to Warner Chilcott over allegedly unfairly raising the price of oral contraceptive Loestrin.

In Europe, the firm is representing two banks caught up in DG Comp’s investigation of manipulations of Libor and Euribor. It is also playing a major role in the commission’s review of Platts’ oil-pricing process where it is advising a US-based oil company. Partners Mark Powell and Assimakis Komninos advised Aegean Airlines on its merger with Olympic, which was cleared by the commission on the second attempt after it was blocked in 2011. Partner Ian Forrester QC meanwhile successfully defended a building company implicated in Kosovo’s first-ever abuse of dominance case.

Brussels

White & Case partners Jacquelyn MacLennan and Mark Powell have led a busy Brussels practice this year. The team’s eight partners include three Who’s Who Legal nominees. The firm is representing two banks caught up in the European Commission’s investigation of manipulations of Libor and Euribor. It is also playing a major role in the commission’s review of Platts’ oil-pricing process and is advising a US-based oil company. Partners Powell and Assimakis Komninos advised Aegean Airlines on its merger with Olympic, which was cleared by the commission on the second attempt after it was blocked in 2011.

The commission is investigating the use of state aid in the energy sector in Romania, Bulgaria and Greece and the White & Case Brussels team is heavily involved.The firm regularly acts as counsel to GlaxoSmithKline, Intel, Pfizer and Toshiba.

Czech Republic

White & Case’s competition practice in Prague is headed by partners Ivo Janda and Tomáš Zagar, who work with two counsel and three associates. The merger side is busy. A major client is PPF Group, which the firm is representing in its sale of a €2.5 billion, 49 per cent stake in Generali PPF Holding to Generali. The deal will be completed in 2014. The firm also advised Arx Equity Partners and Capital Dynamics in the acquisition of a majority share in financial advisers Fincentrum, a deal that was notified to the authority.

An 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. Among various state aid matters, Czech national air carrier ČSA also relies on the group for advice in the restructuring and rescue plan for the company.

France

Practice leader Jean-Paul Tran Thiet says the competition team at White & Case views itself primarily as a litigation practice. Of the several behavioural matters the firm is advising on, the highest-profile is its representation of electricity and gas operator Epex-Spot, which was raided by the European Commission. White & Case also successfully advised Mercedes-Benz in having a ban on the registration of new cars lifted in France, which was deemed to be distorting competition. Tran-Thiet continues to advise energy company Nexans in a challenge against DG Comp’s dawn raid procedures.

Despite the litigation focus, White & Case remains busy in other areas of competition law. The firm advised Klépierre in its tie-up with US-based Simon and represented Belgian investment fund Cobepa in its acquisition of Group Socotec.

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 head of the regulatory group and Ildikó Csák leads the employment law practice. They are supported by two 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 have handled a private antitrust action this year for watchmaking giant Tissot, whose former wholesale distributor alleges abuse of dominance and RPM. On mergers, the firm advised supermarket Louis Delhaize on its exit from the Hungarian market this year and the sale of its stock of 200 shops in the country. On the cartel side, the firm is defending banks Citibank and Takarekbank in an investigation by Hungary’s Competition Authority alleging they colluded to fix mortgage interest rates. It also represents Toshiba in the global cathode ray tube case along with White & Case partners in Brussels. The Hungarian authority is looking into alleged collusion before the country’s entry in the EU, while DG Comp is examining conduct after accession. 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 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 Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. As well as handling matters for the firm’s international clients, the team also has a raft of domestic clients. The firm is advising companies involved in the Libor and car 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 Toys R Us for allegedly abusing its superior bargaining position.

Mexico

Rivals of top US law firm White & Case LLP say its profile in the Mexican antitrust market has improved significantly over the past few years. Led by Who’s Who Legal nominee Iker Arriola, the antitrust group is lean but growing, with eight lawyers spending time on antitrust work and a growing presence in antitrust litigation as enforcement efforts have increased and more cases head to court.

The firm’s growing and impressive caseload has necessitated the additional manpower. Ita transaction work includes acting for Pfizer in its infant formula deal with Nestlé that the CFC challenged, and for paint and coating company Comex in its deal with cross-border rival Sherwin Williams – the second-largest deal in Mexico last year and arguably the most contentious. Café del Pacifico is also a client. More deals are in the pipeline, Arriola says, and the firm is also involved in a number of confidential behavioural cases, including a cartel case in the electronics manufacturing sector.

Russia

Litigator Grigory Chernyshov leads the Russian competition practice at White & Case. There are five other lawyers on the team, including one other partner. The practice unsurprisingly benefits from being part of one of the world’s best-known firms for competition litigation and, unlike many of its international rivals in Moscow, handles its fair share of domestic behavioural work, as well as cross-border mergers.

For example, White & Case successfully defended Chelyabinsk Pipe Plant against accusations by the FAS that the pipe manufacturer participated in a cartel FAS dismissed the case against the company. The firm also successfully represented MTS, one of Russia’s largest telecoms companies, in a case initiated by FAS accusing it of price fixing. Other active clients include Deutsche Bank, Goodyear, Boeing and Nestlé.

Slovakia

White & Case has an established presence in Slovakia and has been around longer than most of its competitors. Marek Staroň, office head, is part of a three-partner, three-associate team that primarily handles antitrust issues.

The firm maintains a steady workload for major clients in Slovakia. It 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 Antimonopoly Office and the Supreme Court.

The team is 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 competition advice to Slovakia’s Ministry of Economy in reorganising SPP Group, the country’s dominant, vertically integrated gas company.

United States: Government Antitrust

By both design and personal predilection, the antitrust group at White & Case has attracted lawyers who thrive when advocating for clients locked in matters that touch on issues of due process, right to access and a handful of other novel legal questions that blaze a trail between the constitution and the antitrust laws. “We’re actually creating rights that help the average guy,” says J Mark Gidley, the group’s practice leader and a Who’s Who Legal nominee. While “average guy” might not precisely capture what White & Case does – their clients include enormous corporations such as Toshiba, Pfizer and so on – the philosophy of challenging the status quo and embracing what Gidley calls “counter-cultural ideas” is something the DC antitrust group prides itself on.

Headline matters abound over the past year. Gidley and partner Christopher Curran advised Toshiba in a second price-fixing jury trial – this time winning a case against claimant Best Buy by unanimous verdict. In fact, three White & Case matters found their way to the Supreme Court last year – K-DurAndroGeland Mississippi AG v Toshiba. The firm also advised Warner Chilcott in its purchase of Actavis, and Comex in its cross-border tie-up with Sherwin Williams.

United States: New York

White & Case remains extremely busy, with practice co-head Robert Milne saying the team is focused on three areas: cartel litigation, pharmaceutical antitrust issues and merger work. He shares the practice leadership with Who’s Who Legal nominee Joseph Angland. The firm’s long-running work defending Toshiba in the liquid crystal display cartel matters is well documented. Most recently, a San Francisco jury cleared Toshiba of price-fixing allegations a year after another jury found the company guilty of the same crime – a verdict that was later vacated.

In the pharmaceutical sector, the firm remains very strong. It is advising Pfizer in the Effexor litigation and numerous class actions regarding Lipitor, the best-selling drug of all time. Milne and partner Michael Gallagher are also counsel to Warner Chilcott over allegedly unfairly raising the price of oral contraceptive Loestrin. Other matters include advising JSC Belarusian Potash, one of the world’s largest potash producers, in agreeing a settlement with plaintiffs over an alleged price-fixing cartel.

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