White & Case
White & Case slipped a few places in our rankings this year, primarily due to the outstanding years had by some of the firms above them, and some tweaks to the way we calculated our merger scores. None of that should detract from the overall excellence and consistely outstanding offering White & Case provides its clients. Led by J Mark Gidley, the talented team at the DC-based firm continues its long tradition of fighting for clients where other firms may have taken the easier path of settlement – often leaning on novel defences to secure victories for their clients.
|Merger ranking||-||Litigation ranking||7||Cartel ranking||-|
|Global head||J Mark Gidley|
|Number of jurisdictions with a competition team||11|
|Counsel and consultants||24|
|Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal||17|
|Lateral partner hires||0|
White & Case once again acted on some of the most contentious antitrust health-care matters in the world last year. The firm has broken new ground in defending against “product hopping” allegations, winning summary judgment in a case targeting Warner Chilcott’s Doryx drug. The case represented the leading edge of antitrust claims in the pharmaceutical world – one that the US Federal Trade Commission certainly subscribes to – and it’s no surprise that White & Case leads the way in defending against such claims. Elsewhere, the firm won three motions to dismiss under the US Supreme Court’s Actavis standard that now controls pay-for-delay drug patent cases. Those three victories were among only four defence victories in courts since the Actavis ruling was handed down. The firm is also leading defence efforts against pay-for-delay and product-hopping cases in Europe.
The firm also offers a world-class cartel defence service for clients entangled in collusion investigations around the world. Gidley and others have led the way for Toshiba in a myriad of conspiracies, helping the electronics titan avert cartel exposure in multiple jurisdictions, including the US, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the EU courts, among others. Its work in the US was particularly important as it established some clarity over the foreign reach of US antitrust laws under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act. Merger work continues apace as well. It acted for Zimmer Holdings in its global deal with Bimet, which went to Phase II in Japan. Other deals include Anthem/Cigna and Omnicare/CVS Health, backing the firm’s already high profile in the health-care sector. And overall, the firm’s strength globally continues to grow, as it expands its footprint in Mexico, Eastern Europe and in the growing litigation scene in the UK.
White & Case is proud of its reputation as a fighter prepared to take on the Commission. Jacquelyn MacLennan is now part of the four-person executive committee in charge of the firm, and Mark Powell leads the practice. The practice’s 30 lawyers speak close to 20 different languages, including Slovenian and Bulgarian. Indeed, White & Case is one of the go-to firms in Brussels for Eastern European matters.
MacLennan was in charge of Toshiba’s appeals in the cathode ray tube, gas insulated switchgear and transformers cases. In September 2015, the General Court annulled the €28 million fine imposed on Toshiba for its alleged role in the colour picture tubes cartel. Meanwhile, Powell and partner Jérémie Jourdan represent Crédit Agricole in DG Comp’s Libor investigation. Powell also represented Nespresso against French charges that it abused its dominance by blocking or discouraging customers from using compatible coffee capsules in the company’s machines; the case was closed in 2014 without penalties or acknowledgement of liability.
On the merger side, Powell and partner Axel Schultz were involved in the huge Zimmer/Biomet deal, securing a clearance two months ahead of DG Comp’s deadline. Pontus Lindfelt, a Brussels partner who spends some of his time in Stockholm, handles multiple projects for Nordic Capital, a Swedish private equity firm.
White & Case is one of the few American firms to hold a convincing presence in the Czech market. Its Prague practice is headed by partner Ivo Janda, who work with two counsel and three associates, and Janda says the practice is now self-sustainable, able to get by on domestic work as well as references from its larger global network.
The merger side is busy, the firm says. It is advising on Česky´ Aeroholding’s acquisition of joint control of the Czech national air carrier, Czech Airlines. The deal required clearance in five jurisdictions, both within and outside the European Union. The firm represented the company in all these proceedings, a sign of the White & Case’s global standing and builds on the firm’s domestic aviation expertise after it worked on the state aid provided to CSA as part of the national air carrier’s restructuring plan. In cartel work, the firm acted for Toshiba in the Cathode Ray Tubes cartel case. The firm acted for Toshiba on the same alleged infringement in other EU jurisdictions and before the Court of Justice of the European Union. In the one of the largest logistics transaction of the past decade, the firm advised PointPark Properties on the €523 million acquisition of a Czech logistics portfolio.
Before becoming a competition lawyer, Jean-Paul Tran Thiet, White & Case practice head, was a special adviser to the French prime minister and spent time in the commission. He therefore has broad experience to draw on and despite some French lawyers saying that the firm is less visible than it used to be, White & Case nevertheless works on some impressive cases. Tran Thiet is 63 but says he has no plans to retire soon. Orion Berg was promoted to counsel at the start of the year.
On the domestic side, the standout matters are Tran Thiet’s successful work for Outremer Telecom, Nespresso and the upcoming DIY merger where he represents Mr Bricolage. In the EU, meanwhile, he is fighting against the commission’s Euribor investigation for Crédit Agricole. The strategy includes the unusual step of lodging a complaint with the ombudsman regarding the commission’s alleged bias in handling the case. He also represented power cables company Nexans with respect to a €70 million cartel fine in April. He is currently challenging the commission’s dawn raid procedure before the General Court.
Of counsel Tihamér Tóth, a Who’s Who Legal: Competition nominee, heads the competition group at White & Case’s Budapest office. A former vice president of Hungary’s Competition Authority, Tóth focuses almost entirely on European competition law and state aid, but is currently on sabbatical to teach at universities in the United States. He is joined by two partners who also specialise in other matters: István Réczicza, who is also head of the regulatory group; and Ildikó Csák, who leads the employment law practice. They are supported by two associates who also spend time working on matters outside the competition field.
Last year, White & Case was involved in a large cartel case involving Hungarian mills and advising several large mills in their appeals – one of which led to the overturning of one of the authority’s largest cartel fines to date. It also acted for Toshiba in the Cathode Ray Tube investigation, where the technology giant escaped a fine and infringement finding. The firm was able to secure similar treatment for an AkzoNobel subsidiary, which escaped a fine in a car-painting cartel investigation.The firm is acting for Hamburger Recycling Group in a merger filing relating to its purchase of two of the country’s largest paper recycling companies, a process that involved coordinating the merger filing in Serbia.
White & Case has a strong reputation globally in behavioural matters and things are no different in Japan. Toshio Dokei and Arthur Mitchell lead the three-strong partnership and the practice is also bolstered by Jiro Tamura, a renowned academic with stints at both the US DoJ and FTC who regularly consults on the firm’s cases.
While White & Case handles its fair share of mergers, all of which are confidential, investigations remain its bread and butter. The firm has a role in the auto parts case and Libor investigation. It is also regular counsel Toshiba on domestic and international matters; Dokei’s team was heavily involved in the global liquid crystal display and cathode ray tube cartel investigations, working closely with White & Case’s US group in defending Toshiba before the US courts. The firm continues to advise Toys R Us in appealing against a ¥4 billion fine for abuse of superior bargaining power. The team also represented Zimmer Holdings on its acquisition of Biomet.
Rivals of top US law firm White & Case LLP say its profile in the Mexican antitrust market has improved significantly over the past few years. Led by Who’s Who Legal: Competition nominee Iker Arriola Peñalosa, the antitrust group has remained steady over the past year with a nine-lawyer practice. The firm has a growing presence in antitrust litigation as enforcement efforts have increased and more cases head to court.
The firm was in the middle of the largest transaction in Mexico last year when working for Consorcio Comex and its shareholders in the sale of Comex to PPG Industries. The White & Case team also led for Tyson Foods in the sale of its poultry business in Mexico to Pilgrim’s Pride. In other matters, the firm is guiding Grupo Aeroméxico in two investigations: one surrounding slots at the Mexico City airport, and another into a joint venture between it and Delta Air Lines.
Partner Igor Ostapets leads the Russian competition practice at White & Case in Moscow. There are four associates on the team, which saw its former head Grigory Chernyshov leave the firm this year. Still, the practice benefits from being part of one of the world’s best-known firms for competition litigation and, unlike many of its international rivals in Moscow, handles a good share of domestic work as well.
White & Case advised the Independent Petroleum Company, a Russian oil and gas company, on vertically integrated operations with Alliance Group in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Ostapets and his team also advised BASF-Wintershall on a swap of upstream and downstream assets with Gazprom. The team is currently representing Evergreen Marine in the ongoing FAS investigation of an alleged cartel among marine container shipping companies. Other active clients include Finnish energy company Fortum and Toshiba.
Perhaps the longest-established international law firm in Bratislava is White & Case, which opened its doors in the city in 1996. Led by partner Marek Staroň, the firm represents multinationals and large domestic companies, and has advised telecommunications company Orange and construction company Doprastav, which recently had a cartel fine cancelled in court. The firm is currently involved in a mineral water merger before the Antimonopoly Office.
United States: New York
White & Case remains extremely busy, with practice head Robert Milne saying the team is focused on three areas: cartel litigation, pharmaceutical antitrust issues and merger work. In the past year, the firm promoted Bryan Gant and Alison Hanstead to partner, and Aya Kobori and Joshua Weedman to counsel. Partner Martin M Toto continues to collaborate with his West Coast and Washington, DC colleagues to defend Toshiba from direct and indirect television purchasers’ follow-on claims in the CRT and LCD class actions, with an appellate victory in the latter that affirmed the dismissal of most of Motorola’s damages.
The New York team supports the overall antitrust practice’s specialisation in defending against proliferating “pay for delay” claims. In April 2015, partner Jack Pace was part of the firm’s win of the first summary judgment granted in an antitrust “product hopping” case, for Actavis in the Doryx litigation. For Pfizer’s cholesterol treatment Lipitor and Actavis’s oral contraceptive Loestrin, White & Case obtained dismissals in September 2014 of all Sherman Act claims in cases challenging the reverse-payment settlements of patent litigation. Milne and Pace acted for Actavis; Milne for Pfizer. They also counsel pharmaceutical companies in the Aggrenox and Effexor litigations. Milne and partner David Suggs defend CertainTeed against a class action accusing it and several other manufacturers, who together account for 99 per cent of all drywall sold in the US, of conspiring to coordinate significant price hikes.
United States: Washington DC
White & Case’s global antitrust practice chair J Mark Gidley sits in the firm’s Washington, DC office, where he has helped to build what may be the nation’s pre-eminent reverse-payment settlement defence team. This focus has been intensified by partner Eric Grannon, whom rivals call impressive for his passionate advocacy on behalf of drug makers, which embodies Gidley’s view of his firm as a place that can “try cases, but also take academic questions to appeal”. In 2014, the firm won three motions to dismiss pay-for-delay claims. It also represents Par and Paddock against the FTC, and Upsher-Smith and Boehringer Ingelheim in private litigation.
Outside the pharmaceutical sector, the firm is advising Zimmer on its US$13.5 billion acquisition of medical device manufacturer Biomet, and assisted US Foods through the HSR notification and second request phase of its merger with Sysco. Toshiba keeps partner Christopher Curran busy fighting off claims for damages from the company’s price fixing in liquid crystal displays, cathode ray tubes, and lithium ion batteries. Unsurprisingly for a practice with so much follow-on work, White & Case is also defending clients in the Libor and Euribor investigations, among others.