With more than a century of experience and a network of offices
extending across five continents, White & Case is both a Wall
Street stalwart and an international giant with institutional ties
to the corporate elite around the world.
Wall Street start
As the sun rose on the 20th century, two ambitious youngsters
drained their meagre savings accounts to open a small firm in
downtown New York in 1901. Justin DuPratt White and George Case's
investment paid off quickly, thanks largely to Henry Davidson, a
fellow who believed in the duo, and-more importantly-held a key to
the JP Morgan financial kingdom. Davidson was a prominent financier
who became a senior partner at JP Morgan & Company.
Business stayed strong through World War I as White & Case
advised JP Morgan on its deals with war materials manufacturers and
suppliers to the French and British militaries. The firm's growing
connection to European companies prompted it to open its first
foreign office in Paris at the close of the war-the beginning of a
drive for international expansion that continues today.
It's a small world after all
This Magellanic nature has reaped dividends and earned the firm
a reputation as one of the top law firms in international M&A
and finance, with its gaze fixed at the moment on emerging markets.
In modern times, White & Case has established itself in over
two dozen countries, developing serious expertise in cross-border
and multijurisdictional cases and transactions through a network of
offices that are locally staffed and well-connected to local and
multinational clients alike. The firm has also worked for foreign
investors, sovereign wealth funds, foreign governments and foreign
government agencies. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, White
& Case attorneys served as advisers to several
newly-independent governments as they ushered in an era of
privatization in Eastern Europe. Along with its financial nous,
White & Case is well known for its international arbitration
and litigation practices, which represent more than one-third of
the firm's work.
In 2011, White & Case celebrated its 40th anniversary in
London, where the firm sits in the financial heart of the City.
More than 300 lawyers work in London, making the office one of the
firm's largest. It has also been among the most profitable,
contributing to the firm's high rate of growth and financial
success, thanks largely to the office's stellar banking and capital
market practices. With additional focus on corporate, project
finance, energy, construction, telecommunications, employment,
litigation, IP and dispute resolution, the London office is known
for its roster of financial and corporate clients.
Downturn, downsize, move around
Like many law firms faced with changing market conditions, White
& Case scaled back its operations during the 2008-09 downturn,
closing offices in Dresden and Milan, cutting lawyer and support
staff positions, and putting the entire partnership under review.
Since then, however, the firm has reopened its Milan office, hiring
two Latham & Watkins partners for the re-launch in 2011. The
firm also appointed a new three-member executive committee,
including London office head Oliver Brettle, following the
re-election of firm Chair Hugh Verrier in September 2011. Brettle
will oversee the firm's growth in London and throughout the EMEA
region and also help build the firm's 'one-firm culture', focusing
on people development initiatives.
HP buys Autonomy in record-setting deal
In August 2011, Hewlett Packard made a $11.7 billion bid to buy
software company Autonomy-the largest transaction ever in the
technology sector. A White & Case team led by London partners
Gavin Weir and Philip Broke advised Qatalyst Partners as lead
financial adviser and sole Rule 3 adviser to Autonomy on the deal.
The board of directors of Autonomy Corporation, the largest
software company in the UK, has recommended that the takeover offer
be accepted, and the sale is expected to be completed by the end of
Big pharma gets bigger
In May 2011, Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical, one of the largest
pharmaceutical companies in Asia, announced its purchase of Swiss
pharma giant Nycomed for $13.7 billion. White & Case advised
Nordic Capital, a Stockholm-based company that is part of a private
equity consortium divesting themselves of their shares in Nycomed.
The merger, which represents the largest acquisition to date for
the Japanese drugmaker, is expected to close by the end of
Under the sea
Someday, gas pipelines in Russia and the European Union will be
connected via a new offshore pipe system that's being built below
the Baltic Sea. White & Case advised on all legal aspects of
the construction contracts and financing of the project, the work
of a joint venture called Nord Stream AG and a number of
multinational energy sponsors. In March 2011, the firm helped close
a second phase of financing, involving €2.5 billion of debt and 24
international commercial banks.
Bond. Nigerian Bond.
When the Federal Republic of Nigeria decided to launch its first
international bond issue, its government turned to White & Case
for advisory services. The firm has represented several African
companies and governments on financings and capital markets
transactions. In February 2011, the London office helped Nigeria
list the 10-year bond, valued at $500 million, on the London Stock
Exchange and make sales to investors in the US and elsewhere.
Trying to avoid a haircut
White & Case is currently representing a group of investors
in a dispute with the Bank of Ireland over a debt-for-equity
conversion proposed by the Irish Government to help spread the
costs of its recapitalisation plan. White & Case's clients, a
committee of bondholders including Appaloosa Management, Varde
Partners, QVT Financial and Marathon Asset Management, jointly hold
more than $1 billion of subordinated debt. BoI has offered to buy
back the bonds at a severely discounted rate or exchange them for
stock. But in a lawsuit filed in June 2011 the bondholders argue
that the bank shouldn't force such losses on bondholders ahead of
shareholders and say the buyback proposal runs afoul of opinions by
the European Commission.