GCR 100 - 18th Edition

Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider

11 January 2018

United States: New York

Led by John D Harkrider, the AXINN VELTROP & HARKRIDER team continues to punch above its weight. As a boutique with no corporate department, the firm must win deal work based on its reputation with co-counsel as well as companies. The firm size remained relatively stable, with no partner additions or departures and the promotion of just one associate to counsel.

While its lawyers – including Harkrider himself – have said in the past that they are better merger advisers than litigators, that may have changed in the past year with a significant uptick in the litigation work. Axinn acted as lead defence counsel for Tyson Foods in the Broiler Chicken antitrust litigation; served as lead counsel for Stanley Black & Decker in the SawStop lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; and counsels several Danfoss companies in General Electric’s follow-on damages claim in for refrigerant compressors. The firm also remained active in the auto parts class action; and acted for Google as a third party in the 1-800 Contacts litigation at the Federal Trade Commission.

Back in the merger world, Axinn also represented Black & Decker in the company’s acquisition of the Craftsman brand from Sears, which allowed Sears to retain the ability to sell Craftsman in its stores. The firm advised Thermo Fisher in its US$7.2 billion acquisition of Patheon, a deal that closed in August 2017 after receiving unconditional clearance from the European Commission. And Axinn acts as global lead counsel for Johnson Controls in the US$2 billion sale of its safety business to 3M.

United States: Washington, DC

The Washington, DC office at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider insists that it is no longer the little sibling of the New York office. Practice co-chair John DeQ Briggs heads up a strong antitrust practice in the nation’s capital – one that has its hand in major deals, litigation efforts and criminal investigations. The firm proudly says it does not handle many “run-of-the-mill” cases, noting that lawyers will not do a lot of HSR filings for easy deals. Axinn was lead and global coordinating counsel for Dell in its US$67 billion acquisition of EMC, which required approvals in about 20 jurisdictions. Dell called for partner Michael Keeley personally to travel to China to help push the deal through regulators there. Keeley and Russell Steinthal took the lead for Stanley Black & Decker in its acquisition of the Craftsman tool brand.

Turning to litigation, the firm is active in the Blue Cross Blue Shield antitrust litigation, where plaintiffs are attempting to break up the health insurance group. Axinn represents Independence Blue Cross against plaintiff powerhouses Boies Schiller Flexner and Hausfeld. Tyson Foods also retained the DC team in 2017 to help it fend off claims it conspired to drive down chicken grower pay. Stanley Black & Decker also employs Axinn’s services for litigation efforts, specifically in defending against an inventor’s claim of a group boycott of his safety feature for power saws. The Axinn DC team remains involved in global investigations through its representation of confidential Japanese companies and others.

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