With no changes to the size of Shearman & Sterling’s competition practice, it was business as usual last year for the top-quality team. The practice spans six jurisdictions and as such Shearman & Sterling is well-placed to provide a coordinated approach to multi-jurisdictional transactions and investigations. Recent highlights include advising Albemarle Corporation on its acquisition of Rockwood Holdings in a transaction valued at approximately US$6.2 billion to create one of the world’s leading specialty chemical companies. The transaction was cleared unconditionally by the EU, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, South Korea and, following a Phase II review, by MOFCOM. The team, which included practice co-head Beau Buffier, helped the client close the deal within six months. The Shearman & Sterling team also represented Zillow in its US$3.5 billion acquisition of Trulia, which was unconditionally cleared by the FTC after a second request investigation.
|Merger ranking||-||Litigation ranking||-||Cartel ranking||-|
|Global head||Stephen Mavroghenis, Beau Buffier|
|Number of jurisdictions with a competition team||6|
|Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal||28|
|Lateral partner hires||0|
Behavioural work is a focus of the global antitrust team and its lawyers aim to provide a coordinated, strategic and swift response. Shearman & Sterling is currently representing Qualcomm as its EU competition counsel in an investigation of whether it offered discounts on sales of its market-leading chipsets in exchange for customer loyalty. The firm is also representing Microsoft in the European Commission’s ongoing Google Android investigation. Partner Trevor Soames in Brussels acts in both of these matters.
The antitrust litigation practice is active throughout the US, Europe and the UK. The firm recently represented Bank of America in antitrust class actions alleging that financial institutions conspired to manipulate benchmark foreign currency exchange rates. The case settled in April 2015 subject to court approval and saw the involvement of litigation partner Richard Schwed.
Refined, discriminating and uncompromising, clients turn to Shearman & Sterling in critical cases. Partner and Who’s Who Legal: Competition nominee Trevor Soames, described by one client as “highly knowledgeable, well-connected, and engaging to work with”, says the firm prefers big game to more straightforward competition work. “We’re brain surgeons,” he says. Looking at a client list that includes Qualcomm, Samsung, Nokia, Credit Suisse, Paramount and Microsoft, it is hard to disagree. This is a considerable achievement for a practice formed from the ashes of Howrey in 2011. Shearman seems settled and has established its identity as one of Brussels’ most combative and dynamic firms.
Behavioural work – particularly abuse of dominance – is the firm’s forte. The team is Qualcomm’s European counsel as it investigates the company over the supply of chipsets used in smartphones and tablets; the company regularly taps Shearman for such complicated work. It also acts for Microsoft as a complainant in the ongoing Google proceedings, in the investiations of the company’s Android operating system, and applications and services for smartphones and tablets. Shearman also advised Cargolux during its General Court appeal against DG Comp’s air freight cartel decision; oral hearings in that case took place in spring 2015.
United States: New York
Shearman & Sterling continues to be successful in New York. That three of its members are nominated to Who’s Who Legal: Competition – practice leader Beau W Buffier, Wayne Dale Collins and Jessica K Delbaum – illustrates the strength of the practice, although it lost Kenneth Prince to retirement and Lisl J Dunlop to Manatt Phelps & Phillips in October 2014. Perhaps Buffier’s biggest and they-said-it-couldn’t-be-done deal was guiding Zillow’s US$2.5 billion acquisition of Trulia through an intensive six-month review by the FTC, which ultimately concluded that allowing the two biggest online real estate portals to merge would not harm competition. He co-led a team that obtained unconditional Phase I clearance from the European Commission and the FTC, and unconditional Phase II clearance in China, for chemical company Albemarle’s US$6.2 billion acquisition of Rockwood.
Delbaum and Brussels partner Geert Goeteyn represented Indian pharmaceutical company Sun Pharma in its US$4 billion merger with Ranbaxy, which the FTC cleared with limited remedies, and Nokia on the sale of its HERE digital mapping and location services business for €2.8 billion. Pall’s acquisition by Danaher for US$13.8 billion required filing in eight jurisdictions, and was advised by Delbaum and Brussels partner Stephen Mavroghenis. Partner Richard Schwed continues to defend Bank of America in class actions alleging collusion to manipulate ISDAfix and Forex.