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Antitrust Expert Kevin Arquit Leaving Simpson for Weil

A big name in the antitrust world, Kevin Arquit, is on the move from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP to Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, his new firm said Tuesday.

Mr. Arquit, a former general counsel at the Federal Trade Commission and director of its bureau of competition, departs after 14 years at Simpson, where he led the New York firm’s competition practice. He’s expected to join Weil by the new year.

The move reunites him with Weil antitrust head Steven Newborn, a former colleague from both the FTC and law firm Rogers & Wells, which later became Clifford Chance. The two will now co-head Weil’s nearly 50-lawyer antitrust group. Several other Weil antitrust lawyers have also overlapped with Mr. Arquit during his career.

“I think everyone in the M&A world knows Kevin,” Mr. Newborn said.

Representatives for Simpson Thacher didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

The antitrust lawyer has been on the front lines of helping companies secure government clearance of large deals, including Sirius Satellite Radio in its closely-watched merger with XM Radio, DirecTV in its $49 billion sale to AT&T, and Lorillard Inc. in its $25 billion sale to Reynolds American He also advises companies when antitrust issues spill into court.

“He’s an extremely creative problem solver in terms of getting things done and coming up with new ideas,” said Weil executive partner Barry Wolf.

Mr. Newborn said that with Mr. Arquit’s arrival, he expects the firm to continue to be a go-to law firm for companies looking for antitrust clearance. Mr. Newborn said that 80% of the deals he advises on aren’t ones Weil is handling from the corporate side. The firm is currently advising Walgreens Boots Alliance on its proposed $9.4 billion acquisition of Rite Aid Corp. and Sherwin-Williams on its $9.3 billion acquisition of The Valspar Corporation.

Antitrust regulation could change under the Trump Administration, though it’s still unclear how President-elect Donald Trump’s stance to keep jobs in the country will square with corporate consolidation, which can sometimes result in a reduction of jobs. Mr. Trump could change the makeup of the FTC considerably, since two of its five commissioner seats are currently vacant. He can also appoint a new head to the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

At 62, Mr. Arquit still has several years before he hits Weil’s retirement age of 68, though Mr. Wolf said the age cap can be waived. A decade ago, the New York Times reported that Simpson has a mandatory retirement age of 65, but that retirement benefits at the firm cap at 62, at which point many partners head out the door.

(via WSJ)