With more than 160 lawyers across 36 offices in 25 countries, White & Case boasts one of the world's largest and furthest-reaching global competition practices.
13. White & Case LLP
|J Mark Gidley
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A sizeable number of internal promotions take the competition partner tally to an impressive 45, with nine of those nominated to The International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists.
J Mark Gidley, based in Washington, DC, is the firm’s global antitrust head. Sadly, partner Wayne Cross passed away in August, while Elaine Johnston left for Allen & Overy.
The firm won a high-profile victory for Stolt-Nielsen in April in a long-running antitrust battle, with the US Supreme Court denying class arbitration of antitrust claims from Tennessee consumers. It is also representing Toshiba in the global cathode ray tube and liquid crystal display cartel investigations.
White & Case also represented Ian Norris, the former Morgan Crucible chief executive who was extradited from the UK to the US. This was a landmark antitrust case over alleged price fixing on carbon products that took place before the 2002 Enterprise Act made price fixing a criminal act in the UK. Norris was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
Other matters include obtaining a dismissal of a Federal Trade Commission ruling over alleged an reverse payment settlement by pharmaceutical companies Par and Paddock.
Jacquelyn MacLennan is the new head of White & Case LLP's Brussels office. The firm's six partners and 19 associates have worked on some high profile cases over the past 12 months. MacLennan is advising Toshiba on its appeal to the General Court against DG Comp's findings in the gas insulated switchgear cartel and in its appeal against the transformers decision. Ian Forrester QC is working on Microsoft and Intel's appeals before the General Court, as well as several cases regarding aspects of due process. Partners James Killick and Mark Powell, together with Forrester, advised chipmaker Rambus on its settlement agreement with the European Commission in December 2009 and are now defending it in court. Powell is also working on a number of cartel cases and follow-on damages actions, notably for Nexans, Unipetrol and Garantovana. Pontus Lindfelt acted for chemicals group Ercros in the animal feed cartel investigation, the commission's first hybrid settlement case. White & Case also represents ceramics manufacturer Sanitec in an appeal before the General Court against the commission's fine in the bathroom fittings cartel case. In the merger field, the firm is representing Acergy on its acquisition of SubSea 7. It advised Residential Capital, the mortgage subsidiary of GMAC Financial Services, on the sale of its European mortgage assets and businesses, and has represented Nordic Capital on a number of large transactions.
White & Case LLP’s competition practice is housed within the Prague office’s regulatory group. TomáŠ Zagar heads the practice, which focuses around a third of its time on mergers. The rest is spent on restrictive practices such as dominance and cartels, and, working with the firm’s other offices, the group has acted on some of the largest international cases to affect the Czech Republic.
The team acted for Toshiba in its successful appeal of a decision by the Czech Competition Authority finding Toshiba guilty of participation in the gas insulated switchgear cartel. The firm also represents the former state-owned synthetic rubber maker Kaucuk, which is owned by Unipetrol, in its appeal of a commission decision fining the company for taking part in the synthetic rubber cartel.
Other work includes representing Czech Airlines in state aid proceedings before the European Commission, and advising members of the Komarek family in the reorganisation of the KKCG Group investment company. Logistics company Mitsui OSK Lines is also a client
At White & Case LLP, of counsel Tihamér Tóth leads the competition team. He works alongside two partners: István Réczicza and Ildikó Csák. They are supported by six associates, though not all members of the team are devoted entirely to competition work. Tóth joined the group in January. He focuses his practice on European competition law and state aid, drawing on his experience as vice president of the country’s Competition Authority, and head of the authority’s Competition Council.
But the revolving door works both ways and in November, András Tóth, an associate who specialises in competition work, returned to the competition authority to take up the position of vice-president and chair of the agency’s competition council.
Meanwhile, associate Attila Kömives left White & Case in July to join DG Comp, a month after senior associate Anita Hegyi departed for General Electric Hungary.
White & Case has since recruited Kornél Szabó, an associate leading the competition group at Allen & Overy LLPs Budapest office. She joins the firm on 1 December.
“White & Case’s profile is growing,” says one local source. “They’re one to watch.”
The firm won total immunity from fines for client Vasútépítök, when the national competition authority imposed record fines against members of a railway construction public procurement cartel. It also counselled the company on possible criminal law proceedings.
White & Case advised the Hungarian Association of Automobile Dealers on the new motor vehicle block exemption regulation, and it acts for longstanding client Colgate-Palmolive on advertisement campaigns and distribution agreements. Other clients include Akzo Nobel, Citibank, Invitel and the Hungarian Grain and Feed Association.
White & Case LLP has a lower profile within the Polish legal community than some competitors, but is building its presence. The practice is generating its own work as well as handling cases that flow through its network. Senior counsel Malgorzata Mroczkowska-Horne leads the practice, which has developed from pure M&A to offering antitrust advice as the area has developed.
White & Case has advised TV company HBO and agricultural company Makhteshim Agan on merger cases. It also advises several companies on their distribution systems, including Bosch Siemens Home Appliances, Panasonic and pharmaceuticals company UCB. The firm also provides energy company EDF with day-to-day competition law advice, and assists mobile telephone operator PTC and a subsidiary of Novartis with compliance advice. On the state aid side, the firm represents chemicals company Ciech.
Lastly, partner and Who’s Who nominee Igor Ostapets leads White & Case LLC’s Moscow-based competition practice. Along with four associates, the team dedicates around 40 per cent of its workload to mergers, and the remainder is divided between compliance and advisory matters.
Last year, the firm represented one of the world’s largest software producers in an alleged abuse of dominance case initiated by FAS over the discontinuing of one of its products and what it claimed were unjustified price variations. The case was dismissed without any financial penalties or sanctions. Lawyers also advised the same client acting as a third party in an FAS matter against “original equipment manufacturers”. The case was again closed with no penalties.
White & Case has an established presence in Slovakia and has been around longer than most of its competitors. However, it is fundamentally different to its rivals, in that there are no specific competition lawyers based in Bratislava. Marek Staron, office head, says there are two partners, one senior associate, and two associates working on competition matters, but not exclusively.
Be that as it may, the firm’s global reputation serves to maintain a steady workload in Slovakia. Toshiba is a prominent client, which the firm continues to advise in both the cathode ray tube and switchgear cartel matters. The team also advises numerous clients in the banking sector on various competition issues.
United States: Government Antitrust
White & Case LLP’s Washington, DC antitrust group includes eight partners, four counsel and 26 associates. Partner and Who’s Who nominee J Mark Gidley leads the team, which works closely with colleagues in other offices. The firm’s strong international presence allows it to handle the bulk of its work in-house.
Within the competition group, antitrust specialists are all litigators with court experience. Gidley says it is important for clients to know that the firm will litigate a case against the antitrust enforcement agencies if needs be, to ensure that they get the best deal possible in dealings with the DoJ or FTC.
This year, the firm secured a Supreme Court win for client Stolt Nielsen; the court denied class arbitration of antitrust claims against the company.
White & Case also represents Toshiba Corporation in two antitrust multi-district litigation class actions, as well as two related global investigations in the markets for cathode ray tubes and thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD).
On the transactional side, the team advised Pilot Travel Centers in its acquisition of Flying J’s travel plaza or truck stop business. The acquisition combined two of the largest travel plaza operators in the nation, creating a company with a combined value in excess of US$5 billion.
The team is also counsel to Ian Norris, the first executive ever extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States by the DoJ’s antitrust division. The jury acquitted Norris of four substantive crimes of obstruction of justice stemming from a cartel investigation.
United States: New York
White & Case LLP continues to take advantage of its strength gained when Who’s Who nominee Joseph Angland joined the firm in 2008 from the now-dissolved Heller Ehrman LLP. With fellow Who’s Who entrant M Elaine Johnston, Angland is building a formidable practice. These days, nine partners work on antitrust in New York, alongside one counsel and 21 associates.
Angland advised Novartis on its $13 billion purchase of assets from pharmaceutical rival Alcon, and in antitrust litigation brought by a secondary wholesaler. Chrysler is another merger client while credit bureau Experian is a litigation client, and the White & Case team also recently helped to defend oil company Saudi Aramco in an antitrust case, winning dismissal of the suit. On the cartel side, the firm defends electronics company Toshiba in civil suits based on the DoJ’s investigation of the LCD screen market. Like many of its rivals, the firm also has clients in the pharmaceutical sector. The New York practice advises on so-called reverse payment settlements between brand and generic drugs companies, as well as providing background antitrust counselling to several companies in the market.
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