GCR 100 - 19th Edition

Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider

19 December 2018

United States: New York

The lone antitrust boutique in this survey, AXINN VELTROP & HARKRIDER remains among the top firms in one of the world’s biggest markets, having advised on more than $500 billion in deals since the firm was founded. The firm says the demand for its counsel on antitrust litigation “is exploding”, and that it has never seen a higher demand for its services overall. The New York team works closely with its Washington, DC counterpart on several high-profile matt ers. For example, practice head John D Harkrider teamed up with Washington, DC partner Michael Keeley to serve as liaison counsel for Tyson Foods in a case accusing it and four other poultry companies of engaging in an illegal information exchange and no-poach arrangement. The firm also has a cross-offi ce team handling accusations that Tyson Foods manipulated the price of broiler chickens and pork – two separate but related cases. Partner Daniel Bitt on was the lead lawyer for three Danfoss defendants in a private treble damages case brought by General Electric alleging an international price-fixing cartel involving household refrigerant compressors; GE had opted out of the multidistrict litigation. Some of the firm’s other litigation has grown out of government cartel investigations and cases, including in the sprawling auto parts litigation. Axinn also acted for Google as a third party in the 1-800 Contacts litigation at the Federal Trade Commission.

In merger work, Harkrider and partner Russell Steinthal are lead counsel to Silver Lake Partners and Endeavor in the latt er’s tie-up with Learfi eld. The two merging companies are among the biggest names in the college sports marketing business, and their deal received a second request from the Department of Justice’s antitrust division. It raises interesting questions about the use of economics in bidding markets and whether scale can be a barrier to entry where smaller competitors are winning some of the largest customers. Axinn also counselled Stanley Black & Decker in its acquisition of the Craftsman brand from Sears, which retained the ability to sell Craftsman in its stores. The companies argued that the deal would improve competition because Sears and Craftsman would continue to compete and the deal would save jobs – a model merger to take before the Trump administration. The firm also recently counselled McKesson in the formation of a $3.4 billion healthcare information joint venture with Change Healthcare, which received a second request; and McKesson’s $1.4 billion acquisition of CoverMyMeds. Other major work in recent years includes for Thermo Fisher in its $7.2 billion acquisition of Patheon and $925 million purchase of Gatan; and Ball’s $7 billion merger with Rexam.

United States: Washington, DC

AXINN VELTROP & HARKRIDER’s Washington, DC antitrust practice has quickly expanded since opening its doors in 2009. The offi ce, led by John DeQ Briggs, has seen its att orney numbers grow by nearly 50% in just the past year and represents clients in some of the country’s largest and most signifi cant M&A deals and antitrust litigations. The fi rm hired partner Tiff any Rider from Skadden and promoted counsel Jeny Maier to partner in 2018. Axinn acted as lead defence counsel for Tyson Foods in the Broiler Chicken antitrust litigation and is currently advising it in the Growers and Pork antitrust litigations. The fi rm also advised 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 fi rm also remains active in the auto parts class action and acts for Momenta Pharmaceuticals in two parallel antitrust litigations alleging that it excluded generic competitors of Sanofi ’s anticoagulant.

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 fi rm advised Thermo Fisher in its $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 $2 billion sale of its safety business to 3M.

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