GCR 100 - 14th Edition

Norton Rose Fulbright

05 December 2013

Norton Rose Fulbright has made it on to GCR’s Global Elite for the first time after a big year for the firm.

19. Norton Rose Fulbright

Global heads: Martin Coleman
Home jurisdiction: United Kingdom
Total size of firm: 3,800
No. of competition specialists: 97
Percentage of competition specialists: 3
Who’s Who Legal nominees: 8
Partners and counsel: 52
Percentage of partners/counsel in Who’s Who Legal: 15
Senior associates: 5
Associates: 39
Counsel and consultants: 12
Other: 1
No. of lateral partner hires: 1
No. of partner departures: 0
No. of internal promotions: 5

In June, UK-based Norton Rose merged with US-based Fulbright & Jaworski, which created a larger single antitrust practice with full-time competition specialists in the US, UK, Canada, South Africa and Hong Kong, among others. 

In total, 16 antitrust partners and counsel from Fulbright & Jaworski joined with Norton Rose’s team. The competition practice, led by Who’s Who Legal nominee Martin Coleman, expanded further as Jay Modrall was hired as partner in the Brussels practice while there were also five internal promotions to partner.

As well as seeing significant growth, Norton Rose Fulbright’s antitrust team has worked on some notable cases this year. The UK team, led by partners Coleman and Ian Giles, advised Delta Airlines on its merger with Virgin Atlantic across several jurisdictions, including the EU. The deal was approved by the European Commission in June.

The firm is also representing Life Technologies in another transnational merger. The UK and Canadian competition teams are working together as bio-technology company Thermo Fisher seeks to complete its US$13.6 billion acquisition of Life Technologies.

In Australia, Norton Rose Fulbright was busy advising manufacturer JTekt/Koyo Australia in proceedings brought by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission concerning its involvement in an alleged cartel. The company agreed to pay A$2 million (€1.5 million) in October after it admitted to colluding with other businesses to increase the price of ball and roller bearings.

Meanwhile, the US team negotiated a US$3.5 million settlement on behalf of transport services company ABX Logistics after plaintiffs sought damages from it in relation to its involvement in an alleged freight cartel.

Australia

In June Norton Rose combined with US firm Fulbright and Jaworski to create Norton Rose Fulbright. The firm boasts six core competition partners across six cities, with three more partners working on competition alongside other practices. Experienced competition specialist and former ACCC counsel Nick McHugh leads the group. Melbourne-based Andrew Riordan was promoted to the partnership in April. The team has advised on some of Australia’s most significant mergers over the past year. It acted for mortgage broker Aussie Home Loans in the sale of its assets to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, advised McCain Food in its US$85 million acquisition of Sara Lee’s bakery business and acted for Pearson Australia in its tie-up with Bertlesmann. In behavioural matters, the firm acted for JTekt in the ACCC’s cartel investigation of the bearings industry, negotiating an early settlement on behalf of its client. It also obtained a settlement for Japan Airlines in the authority’s air cargo case, and continues to represent the company in follow-on damages litigation.

Canada

Observers in Canada say Norton Rose Fulbright is a firm on the rise. About a year after Norton Rose merged with Canadian firm Ogilvy Renault to enter the Canadian market, the firm then absorbed MacLeod Dixon, another Canadian law firm, picking up two competition specialists in Calgary to add to the Montreal and Toronto-based practice group. Who’s Who Legal nominee Denis Gascon continues to lead the team. The Norton Rose antitrust group is advising clients in some of the most contentious litigations in Canada, including acting for Citibank in the Competition Bureau’s price-fixing investigation regarding interest rate derivatives, such as Libor. The team is also acting for Japanese car parts manufacturer JTEKT and Sharp Corporation in the LCD price-fixing investigation and follow-on class actions. On the merger front, the team acted for Petronas in its C$6 billion purchase of Canada’s Progress Energy, and ING Group in the sale of its Canadian banking business to Scotiabank, which was the largest acquisition of Canadian banking assets in a decade. Other clients include ArcelorMittal and Westco Group.

France

The competition team at Norton Rose Fulbright remains stable. Who’s Who Legal nominee Mélanie Thill-Tayara leads the practice and is supported by partner Marta Giner. The team is advising medical technology specialist Medtronic in the French authority’s price-fixing inquiry into the cardiologic medical devices sector, and Deutsche Bahn in litigation regarding a former subsidiary active in the chemicals sector. Other highlights include acting for Messageries Lyonnaises de Presse, France’s second-largest press distributor, in abuse of dominance actions brought against Presstalis, and, at EU level, Norton Rose Fulbright is counsel to Danish company FLSmidth in the industrial bag cartel probe.

Italy

Partner Andrea Zulli heads the competition practice of Norton Rose in Milan, assisted by two associates. Competitors indicate Zulli, who previously spent nine years at Linklaters’ London office, as an up-and-coming lawyer with increasing market visibility. “He is capable and meticulous,” says a practitioner. The team represented personal care multinational Beiersdorf in the appeal against a €3.5 million fine imposed on the company for its alleged participation in the cosmetics cartel. The appeals court later reduced the fine. The firm is also active on merger control matters, advising investment fund Fondo Italiano d’Investimento, owned by the government and the country’s largest banks, in its acquisitions. BNP Paribas, Royal Bank of Scotland and Samsung also rely on the firm for antitrust advice in other merger matters.

South Africa

Norton Rose merged with US firm Fulbright & Jaworski in April, giving the firm the new name of Norton Rose Fulbright.Who’s Who Legal and GCR “40 under 40” nominee Heather Irvine leads the practice in South Africa. Last year saw the departure of economist Geoff Parr and the promotion of Anthony Crane and Jason van Dijk to director, the firm’s equivalent partner.

The firm’s behavioural practice is thriving. Irvine is representing Chevron in a complaint alleging information exchange and fertiliser company Omnia and foam manufacturer Loungefoam in separate matters questioning the extent of the commission’s powers, both of which are likely to produce precedent­-setting rulings. Meanwhile, partner Marianne Wagener negotiated a 125 million rand settlement for client Afrisam, South Africa’s second-largest cement maker, in cartel proceedings. Merger work has not slackened despite the amount of cartel cases: Irvine acted for three government ministries in their review ofWalmart/Massmart, and the firm acted for Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic in their global joint venture.

UK

Norton Rose Fulbright’s highly regarded five-partner London competition team is led by partner Peter Scott and includes the firm’s practice head and Who’s Who Legal nominee Martin Coleman. Twelve associates complete the team, whose cross-border capabilities have increased enormously since Norton Rose merged with Fulbright & Jaworski in June. Coleman and Ian Giles are acting for Delta in its acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in Virgin, which has required filings in multiple jurisdictions; Phase I EU clearance was achieved in June. On the litigation front, Coleman and Scott are acting for HSBC in an EU case concerning whether aspects of the interchange fees charged by Visa and MasterCard breached competition law. Coleman and Scott also continue to advise PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Competition Commission’s audit market investigation.

United States: Texas

In June, Fulbright & Jaworski merged with UK firm Norton Rose to form Norton Rose Fulbright, rebranding one of the best-known antitrust practices in Texas.Who’s Who Legal-nominated partner Layne E Kruse leads the Houston practice, while of counsel Richard N Carrell and William R Pakalka join a team of five partners. The Fulbright practice has built its reputation on a string of courtroom successes.

This year, Pakalka and partner Darryl Anderson convinced a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit alleging illegal information exchange by client Sanjel, an energy service company. Kruse is representing Christus Health, a hospital system being sued by a class of nurses in San Antonio alleging a conspiracy among hospitals to depress pay. Fulbright lawyers also negotiated a US$3.5 million settlement on behalf of ABX Logistics in the freight forwarding class action, much less than the tens of millions plaintiffs had demanded. The firm also helped HCC Insurance negotiate its settlement with several insurance brokers. The team is working for clients American Alloy Steel and Suretech Completions in ongoing litigation.

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