GCR 100 - 19th Edition

Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider

Professional notice

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.

Axinn combines the skills, experience and dedication of the world's largest firms with the focus, responsiveness, efficiency and attention to client needs of the best boutiques. The firm was established in the late 1990s by lawyers from premier Wall Street firms with a common vision: provide the highest level of service and strategic acumen in antitrust, intellectual property and high-stakes litigation. Axinn’s lawyers have served as lead or co-lead counsel on nearly half a trillion dollars in transactions and, in the last 10 years alone, have handled more than 250 litigations.

High-stakes M&A experience

Axinn's M&A practice is led by some of the nation's most experienced and respected antitrust lawyers. The firm's track record of obtaining global clearance of combinations of significant rivals has built Axinn's reputation as a "go-to" firm for strategic mergers and acquisitions. Axinn combines its extensive experience before numerous antitrust agencies (eg, DOJ, FTC, EC, MOFCOM, CADE, JFTC, KFTC and TTFC) with its ability to develop and present sophisticated econometric arguments, in order to obtain clearance of mergers and acquisitions that at first blush seem to raise insurmountable difficulties.

High-stakes litigation experience

Axinn's antitrust litigation practice is defined by its deep experience and by the sophisticated yet practical approach it has applied to a wide variety of major cases. Its lawyers have handled all types of antitrust claims and have litigated in numerous industries, including: aerospace; automotive parts; avionics; biotechnology; cable television; chemicals; data storage; distilled spirits; earth-moving equipment; entertainment; factory automation; health care; manufacturing; pharmaceuticals; plastics; power tools; and telecommunications. 

High-stakes government investigation experience

In an aggressive enforcement landscape, a company’s choice of cartel counsel is critical. Its lawyers must not only be trusted advisors and advocates, but global strategists, skilled negotiators and experienced litigators. Axinn bring all of these skills to the table. Its lawyers have worked on the two largest price-fixing investigations of the last decade, and have represented companies and individuals in criminal investigations by the US Department of Justice, the Canadian Competition Bureau, the European Commission and other worldwide authorities. Axinn takes an integrated approach and handles all aspects of the representation, including compliance programmes, internal investigations, government investigations, criminal proceedings and civil litigation. The firm recognises that success requires a clear understanding of its clients’ goals and values, and of the unique challenges posed by every investigation. It uses this understanding to provide real strategic options rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Counselling

Axinn provides trusted guidance on antitrust issues that are central to its clients’ strategic goals as well as those that arise in their daily business. In particular, the firm has deep experience advising clients on issues arising at the intersection of the antitrust and intellectual property laws, including standard-setting and FRAND issues. The firm also is often called upon to conduct internal investigations or to develop and implement antitrust compliance programmes.

Co-chairs: John Harkrider ([email protected]) and John Briggs ([email protected])

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