GCR 100 - 8th Edition

Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider LLP

30 December 2007

Antitrust boutique Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider is one of the most specialised firms in the GCR 100. More than half its 49 lawyers do competition work. Though the New York firm has other strengths – in intellectual property and litigation – it has made its name for antitrust ever since name partners Stephen Axinn, James Veltrop and John Harkrider left Skadden Arps in 1997. Both Axinn and Harkrider are Who’s Who nominees.

Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider LLP

Global head: John Harkrider
Home jurisdiction: USA
Total size of firm: 49
No. of competition lawyers: 25
% of firm specialised: 51
Who’s Who nominees: 2
Equity partners: 8
Senior associates: 6
Associates: 11
No. of lateral partner hires: 6
No. of partner departures: 0
No. of internal promotions: 0

This year saw the New York firm recruit more antitrust partners than any other firm, besides Howrey. Matthew Becker and Fran Morrison of Day Pitney LLP joined Axinn Veltrop in Hartford, as did Jonathan Harris, who came from Wildman Harrold Allen & Dixon LLP. Michael Davitz joined in New York from Taro Pharmaceuticals, together with James Doyle from DLA Piper. And John Ongman joined in Washington, DC from Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

For proof of the firm’s ability to punch above its weight, consider its work on the US$67 billion AT&T/BellSouth tie-up last year, the US’s fifth-largest deal ever. The firm helped to coordinate the merger filings for a deal that saw the world’s largest telecoms company reunite with one of the “Baby Bells” it had to divest in the 1980s. By corralling “almost every freelance lawyer on the eastern seaboard” to handle the filing, says Axinn, the firm managed to complete the filings ahead of schedule.

Axinn Veltrop also advised US supermarket chain A&P on its takeover of rival Pathmark Stores and Rent-Way on its US$567 million takeover by Rent-A-Center. It also represented Matlin Patterson Global Advisors, the majority shareholder of Huntsman, on the US$10.5 billion takeover by private-equity fund Apollo Management. Huntsman is one of the world’s largest chemical companies, while Apollo owns a large chemicals division called Hexion.

In November 2006, Axinn Veltrop successfully defended Group Health Incorporated in litigation with the City of New York in relation to the company’s merger with Health Insurance Plan of New York. The deal created a combined insurer with more than US$7 billion in revenues. The City of New York believed the tie-up would lead to increased prices for health insurance and had sought a temporary restraining order to halt it. Other clients include Tyson Foods, Omnicare, and GameStop.

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