Bloomberg News

Simpson Thacher, Allen & Overy, Skadden: Business of Law

November 09, 2012

Kweku Adoboli, the former UBS AG (UBSN) trader on trial over a $2.3 billion loss, is being wrongly blamed for the bank’s layoffs and poor reputation, his lawyer said today in closing arguments.

“He has had to bear the brunt of the problems at UBS,” his lawyer Charles Sherrard told jurors in a London criminal court. The prosecution made false claims about Adoboli because it “can’t get around the evidence.”

Adoboli also faces “outrageous allegations” and false claims that he invented a fake defense and manipulated evidence, Sherrard said.

Adoboli, originally from Ghana, is accused of fraud and false accounting for a $2.3 billion trading loss. Prosecutors say he hid the risk of his trades by booking fake hedges at the Swiss bank and then masking profit to cover future losses before market fluctuations made his positions untenable.

Sherrard said Adoboli lied at work to protect the other three traders on the exchange-traded funds desk, who he claims were involved. The other men, who deny involvement, have “amnesia,” Sherrard said.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass ended her closing argument today by saying Adoboli is arrogant, reckless and dishonest. She said he lied to his colleagues to cover his crime, and then lied in the trial using “long-winded, convoluted answers” to explain himself.

“We invite you to see through those lies and convict Mr. Adoboli,” Wass said to the jury as Adoboli shook his head back and forth.

Wass compared his actions to those of shoplifters, pedophiles and rapists who admit their crimes and then blame their victims.

“Isn’t that just a little bit much?” Sherrard said to the jury, referring to Wass’s comparison to rape.

BP, Plaintiffs Ask Judge to Approve $7.8 Billion Spill Accord

BP Plc (BP/) and the lead lawyers representing victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill asked a judge yesterday to approve a proposed $7.8 billion partial settlement of claims, while attorneys for thousands of plaintiffs sought rejection or modification of the agreement.

BP, based in London, reached the settlement in March to resolve most private plaintiffs’ claims for economic loss, property damage and injuries related to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and subsequent spill. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who granted preliminary approval to the settlement in May, is considering arguments on the agreement at a fairness hearing that started yesterday in New Orleans.

The BP settlement underpays some claimants and unfairly excludes others, lawyers for the objectors said in court papers before yesterday’s hearing. Lawyers representing more than 13,000 spill victims have attacked the settlement’s fairness, BP said in a filing last month seeking approval from the judge.

“Two identical businesses across the street from each other received dramatically different” settlement offers based on the deal’s terms, Stuart Smith, a lawyer for Florida business owners objecting to the accord, said at yesterday’s hearing. “It doesn’t make any sense and it isn’t fair.”

The accord will resolve more than 100,000 damage claims tied to the spill, plaintiffs’ attorney James Roy told the judge yesterday while urging him to approve the agreement.

The claims process set up after the settlement was announced has already paid out more than $1 billion, before final approval, said Roy, co-lead attorney on the plaintiffs’ steering committee, which has pursued the litigation against BP.

The BP settlement “was a hard-fought negotiation. Nothing was easy,” Roy said. “This is not a group of insurance adjusters trying to save money for BP.”

The civil case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, MDL-2179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans). The criminal case is U.S. v. Mix, 12-cr-00171, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

For more, click here.

Moves

Simpson Thacher Hires Private-Equity Partner in London

The global co-head of Allen & Overy LLP’s private-equity sector group, Derek Baird, is joining Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP as a partner in the corporate practice in London.

Baird’s practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, particularly private-equity transactions. He has represented private-equity firms on domestic and cross-border leveraged buyouts, public to private transactions and exits.

“Derek’s experience and recognized expertise fit well with our highly regarded mergers and acquisitions and acquisition finance practices,” Pete Ruegger, chairman of Simpson Thacher’s executive committee, said in a statement.

Simpson Thacher, based in New York, has more than 850 lawyers and 11 offices in the U.S., Asia, London and Sao Paulo.

Fees

Ex-Cameron Aide Coulson Appeals News Corp. Legal Fees Ruling

Andy Coulson, a former editor of News Corp. (NWSA:US)’s News of the World tabloid and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s ex-press chief, asked an appeals court to make the company pay his legal fees in a criminal phone-hacking case.

Coulson’s lawyers told the Court of Appeal in London yesterday that his 2007 termination contract with News Corp. requires the company to pay legal fees relating to his duties as editor. Coulson was charged in July with conspiring from 2000 to 2006 to intercept the mobile-phone messages of more than 600 people, including U.S. actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

The connection between the charges and Coulson’s job at the tabloid are “a no-brainer,” his lawyer, Thomas Linden, said. “Coulson is charged with five counts of conspiracy with others at the News of the World, including his boss,” Rebekah Brooks, who stepped down as chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit two days before her arrest last year.

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, a friend of Brooks, closed the News of the World in July 2011 to help quell public anger after it emerged that journalists accessed messages on a murdered schoolgirl’s mobile phone almost a decade earlier. The investigation spawned parallel probes of computer hacking and bribery and led to the arrests of more than 80 people, including the unit’s former head of security and its top lawyer.

Coulson, 44, and Brooks are among eight people accused of conspiring with Glenn Mulcaire, the company’s former private investigator, to hack phones for news stories. Another group, including Brooks’s husband, Charlie Brooks, was charged with conspiring to cover up the conspiracy by hiding evidence. They are due to stand trial together in September 2013.

Coulson, who denies the charges, argues his former employer is wrongfully assuming he’s guilty by refusing to pay legal fees for someone it says broke the law. He also cited press reports saying the company is paying Brooks’s expenses. The appeals judges said they would assume the claim about Brooks was true if News Corp. didn’t challenge it. It didn’t.

“Mr. Coulson does dispute the allegations and he’s entitled to be presumed innocent,” Linden said.

His contract “covers doing his job as editor and it is not part of his job to hack phones,” said Christopher Jeans, the lawyer for London-based News International, adding if any fees are paid, it should come after he’s proved innocent.

For more, click here.

Verdicts & Settlements

AstraZeneca Settles Toprol XL Generics Suit for $11 Million

AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) and affiliates will pay as much as $11 million to settle claims the company violated antitrust and consumer-protection laws by keeping generic versions of the heart drug Toprol XL off the market.

Consumers and other buyers who paid for the drug from 2005 to 2012 may share in the fund by filing claim forms, available through www.ToprolSettlement.com, according to a statement yesterday from law firms including Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP. A federal judge will consider approving the settlement and attorneys’ fees of as much $3.5 million at a March 7 hearing in Wilmington, Delaware, the lawyers said.

The AstraZeneca defendants denied any wrongdoing, and agreed to the settlement partly “to avoid further expense, inconvenience” and uncertainties of protracted litigation, the London-based company said in court papers.

The case stems from lawsuits filed in 2006 by drug wholesalers and health and welfare funds contending AstraZeneca used unfair trade practices, partly by bringing sham patent- infringement lawsuits against makers of low-cost generics.

About half of the settlement fund will be used to pay consumer claims and the other half will go toward claims by insurers and employee-benefit plans, the law firms said.

The case is In re Metroprolol Succinate End-Payor Antitrust Litigation, 06-cv-71, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

News

Monitor Company Files for Bankruptcy, Deloitte to Buy Assets

Monitor Company Group LP, the Cambridge, Massachusetts consulting firm that last year apologized for helping to improve the image of former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company, in a Chapter 11 petition filed Nov. 7 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, listed assets and debt of $100 million to $500 million each.

Monitor Group said in a statement that its U.S. business would be acquired by Deloitte Consulting LLP while its practices outside the U.S. will be acquired by other member firms of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.

Pepper Hamilton LLP is listed as bankruptcy counsel for Monitor in court papers. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is representing Deloitte in its asset-purchase agreement with Monitor Group. The Skadden team includes partners James Schell, investment management; Eileen Nugent and Neil Stronski, mergers and acquisitions; and J. Gregory Milmoe, corporate restructuring.

Monitor Group was co-founded in 1983 by Michael Porter, the Harvard Business School management expert. Politico reported on Feb. 21, 2011, that the Qaddafi regime paid the company a fee of $3 million a year, plus expenses, to run what the firm called “a sustained, long-term program to enhance international understanding and appreciation of Libya.”

The case is In re Monitor Company Group LP, 12-13042, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

For more, click here.

Deals

Mayer Brown Advises Gulf Oil in $1.05 Billion Deal for Houghton

Mayer Brown LLP New York partner Edward Davis led the team advising Gulf Oil Corp. (GULF), controlled by the billionaire Hinduja brothers, which agreed to buy Houghton International Inc. for $1.05 billion in the second-biggest acquisition planned by an Indian company this year.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP advised Houghton with a team led by corporate partner Christopher Ewan.

Gulf Oil agreed to buy Houghton, whose chemicals and lubricants are used in the metalworking and automotive industries, from a U.S.-based private-equity fund, the Hyderabad, India-based company said in an exchange filing. New York-based AEA Investors LP bought Houghton in 2007.

Indian companies have announced international deals worth $10.2 billion in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Gulf Oil’s planned acquisition is second only to Indian Hotels Co.’s $1.86 billion offer last month to buy Hamilton, Bermuda- based Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. (OEH:US)

Houghton, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, posted sales of $858 million in the year ended Sept. 30, according to Gulf Oil. The Indian company may consider acquisitions to expand its lubricant-making capacity by at least 50,000 metric tons a year, President Ravi Chawla said last year.

For more, click here.

Firm News

Morrison & Foerster Names Brett Miller New York Managing Partner

Brett Miller, a partner in Morrison & Foerster LLP’s bankruptcy and restructuring group, was named managing partner of the New York office. He succeeds litigator Charles L. Kerr, who has led the office since 2008.

Miller, who is co-chairman of the distressed real estate group, represents clients in Chapter 11 cases, out-of-court restructurings, bankruptcy-related acquisitions, cross-border insolvency matters and bankruptcy-related litigation. His clients have included Louis J. Freeh, Chapter 11 trustee for MF Global Holdings Ltd. (MFGLQ:US), and the unsecured creditors’ committee of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“Brett has the combination of qualities needed to lead one of our most important offices: strategic focus, enthusiasm and proven leadership ability,” said Larren Nashelsky, chairman of Morrison & Foerster.

Morrison & Foerster has more than 1,000 lawyers in 15 offices in the U.S., Asia and Europe.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Amon in New York at eamon2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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