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March 28, 2011 5:53 PM

Kirkland Hires Ex-FTC Chief Muris from O'Melveny

Posted by Victor Li

Kirkland & Ellis has hired former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Tim Muris and three other prominent antitrust lawyers to support its growing M&A business, the firm announced Monday. 

Muris, who joins Kirkland as of counsel, is moving from O'Melveny & Myers where he was of counsel for more than six years. He brings two partners from O'Melveny--his former FTC chief of staff, Christine Wilson, and former agency adviser Bilal Sayyed. Both will be partners in Kirkland's antitrust and competition practice group. All will be resident in Washington, D.C.

Ian Conner, who once worked as an antitrust attorney with the Department of Justice, will join Kirkland as of counsel. He most recently practiced as an associate at Hunton & Williams.

Conner worked alongside Muris and Wilson on the Northwest Airlines/Delta Air Lines merger finalized in 2008. Hunton advised Delta and O'Melveny represented Northwest. 

"We had a great experience at O'Melveny & Myers," says Muris, who served as chairman of the FTC from 2001 to 2004. "Kirkland has a good core antitrust group, but they were looking to expand as a result of acquiring a number of transactional partners."

David Fox and Daniel Wolf, who left Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in May 2009, sparked a boom in big-money M&A deals for Kirkland.

Gene Assaf, a partner who serves on Kirkland's global management executive committee, says Muris and the three other attorneys were hired to deal primarily with increased regulatory work necessitated by the the firm's expanding M&A portfolio.

"This made sense for us because we have a strong M&A practice that's been growing over the last 12 to 18 months," Assaf says.  

Muris and Wilson says they saw Kirkland as an ideal fit because of this deals growth.

"If you look at Hart-Scott-Rodino Act filings, where mergers of a certain size must be reported to the FTC and Justice before going forward, Kirkland accounted for 9 percent of all filings last year, which is an astounding number," Wilson says.

She has practiced alongside Muris since 1995, when the two were at Collier, Shannon, Rill and Scott. (That firm merged with Kelley Drye & Warren in 2006.) Wilson moved to the firm formerly known as Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White with Muris in 2000 before landing at the FTC.

M&A activity is picking up. In the last few weeks, AT&T agreed to acquire T-Mobile in a $39 billion deal, Berkshire Hathaway announced plans to pay $9 billion for The Lubrizol Corporation, and Western Digital Corporation agreed to buy a Hitachi, Ltd., business for $4.3 billion.

 

Contact Victor Li at vli@alm.com

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