- Chicago office to focus on government investigations, litigation, and work across the financial services and life sciences sectors
King & Spalding today announced that Zachary Fardon, recent U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, has joined the firm as a partner and will open the firm’s office in Chicago. The new office, King & Spalding’s 20th globally and 10th in the U.S., expands the firm’s international platform into the Midwest with a particular focus on government investigations, related commercial litigation, and work across the financial services and life sciences sectors.
Fardon is an accomplished trial lawyer who has gained national recognition both as a commercial litigator in private practice and as a government prosecutor handling dozens of high profile cases, including the successful prosecution of former Gov. George Ryan.
“Zach is a marquee hire who continues the long tradition at King & Spalding of returning from public practice to build successful litigation and investigations practices at the firm,” said Robert D. Hays, Jr., chairman of King & Spalding. “Chicago has been a target for our disputes and transactional practices for some time. We are thrilled to have a decorated lawyer like Zach— with a team-first mentality and entrepreneurial spirit — leading our efforts to build a permanent presence in the region.”
“I had the good fortune to work with Judge Griffin Bell, our senior statesman at K&S when I was an associate, and always admired his extraordinary path from government service to private practice,” said Fardon. “That model, combined with the firm’s momentum and its culture of civility and collaboration, made returning to the firm the logical choice for me. K&S has a remarkable track record of extending its platform around the world, and I am excited to have the opportunity to do so in Chicago. The city, as the home of current K&S clients and headquarters to many other public companies — all with significant litigation and transactional needs — is a natural next step for the firm.”
Fardon began his career at King & Spalding in Washington, D.C. (1992-1996). He left to serve as state public defender in Nashville (1996-1997), then Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago (1997-2003), and First Assistant U.S. Attorney in Nashville (2003-2006). He joined Latham & Watkins in 2007, eventually chairing its litigation department in Chicago for three years before he left to serve as U.S. Attorney in Chicago (2013-2017). In that role, Fardon led and managed more than 300 employees. In 2016, he was inducted as a Fellow into the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. Fardon received his B.A. and J.D. from Vanderbilt University, where he was an Editor of the Law Review. (See Appendix for additional biographical information.)
Fardon, who will serve as the managing partner and head of litigation of the new office, has a history of building dynamic teams both in the public sector and private practice. The Chicago office expects to add additional lawyers in the near term and open a permanent location in the West Loop in September.
Fardon’s arrival adds to an award-winning Special Matters & Government Investigations practice, comprised of over 100 lawyers in 14 offices throughout the world, dedicated to white collar criminal defense and related civil fraud litigation, making it one of the largest and most respected such practices in the world. The team has been nationally acclaimed as White Collar Practice Group of the Year in 2017 by Law360, among other recognitions. The team has handled investigations before more than 70 of the 93 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in the United States and every litigating division of the Justice Department. It also has appeared before the Securities Exchange Commission and all 12 of its Regional Offices, and handled multinational investigations involving approximately 80 countries. It proudly counts among its distinguished alumni Chris Wray, the most recently confirmed and current Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Zach is the perfect lawyer and person to lead our Chicago office,” said Wick Sollers, practice group leader of the Special Matters & Government Investigations practice and Managing Partner of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. “Zach’s exceptional judgment and experience as Co-Head of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of the U.S. Attorneys White Collar Crime Subcommittee and as chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group, will make him an invaluable counselor for our clients with concerns across enforcement and regulatory agencies, both in Chicago and nationwide.”
Andy Bayman, co-head of the firm’s Healthcare and Life Sciences practice commented, “Chicago has been an important strategic focus of our FDA, Medical Device and Life Sciences lawyers for many years, as the home base to so many leading players in the sector, including a number of our existing clients. Zach is a special and unique talent, who will be an immediate resource for our life sciences clients, and we are delighted to help him grow the Chicago office.”
Carolyn Alford, leader of the firm’s Finance practice, added, “Financial Institutions and the associated finance and restructuring work have been a focal point of the firm and an area of strength. Chicago is a world-class financial hub, with existing firm clients headquartered there and new potential clients in the sweet spot of our practice. With Zach’s arrival, we look forward to leveraging our award-winning Finance and Restructuring team to help build our Chicago office.”
Fardon joins other high-profile King & Spalding hires this year, including tort litigator John Hooper and corporate M&A partner Jim Woolery in New York, and over 20 other partners in Austin, Houston, London, Los Angeles and New York who are also recognized leaders in their practices. Investments in talent and the new office reflect the firm’s strong financial performance over the past decade. As result of substantial growth and profitability, King & Spalding most recently reported over $1 billion in revenue, more than 1,000 lawyers worldwide and $2.5 million profits per partner.
UK might need negative rates if recovery disappoints – BoE’s Vlieghe
By David Milliken and William Schomberg
LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England might need to cut interest rates below zero later this year or in 2022 if a recovery in the economy disappoints, especially if there is persistent unemployment, policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said on Friday.
Vlieghe said he thought the likeliest scenario was that the economy would recover strongly as forecast by the central bank earlier this month, meaning a further loosening of monetary policy would not be needed.
Data published on Friday suggested the economy had stabilised after a new COVID-19 lockdown hit retailers last month, while businesses and consumers are hopeful a fast vaccination campaign will spur a recovery.
Vlieghe said in a speech published by the BoE that there was a risk of lasting job market weakness hurting wages and prices.
“In such a scenario, I judge more monetary stimulus would be appropriate, and I would favour a negative Bank Rate as the tool to implement the stimulus,” he said.
“The time to implement it would be whenever the data, or the balance of risks around it, suggest that the recovery is falling short of fully eliminating economic slack, which might be later this year or into next year,” he added.
Vlieghe’s comments are similar to those of fellow policymaker Michael Saunders, who said on Thursday negative rates could be the BoE’s best tool in future.
Earlier this month the BoE gave British financial institutions six months to get ready for the possible introduction of negative interest rates, though it stressed that no decision had been taken on whether to implement them.
Investors saw the move as reducing the likelihood of the BoE following other central banks and adopting negative rates.
Some senior BoE policymakers, such as Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden, believe that adding to the central bank’s 875 billion pounds ($1.22 trillion) of government bond purchases remains the best way of boosting the economy if needed.
Vlieghe underscored the scale of the hit to Britain’s economy and said it was clear the country was not experiencing a V-shaped recovery, adding it was more like “something between a swoosh-shaped recovery and a W-shaped recovery.”
“I want to emphasise how far we still have to travel in this recovery,” he said, adding that it was “highly uncertain” how much of the pent-up savings amassed by households during the lockdowns would be spent.
By contrast, last week the BoE’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, likened the economy to a “coiled spring.”
Vlieghe also warned against raising interest rates if the economy appeared to be outperforming expectations.
“It is perfectly possible that we have a short period of pent up demand, after which demand eases back again,” he said.
Higher interest rates were unlikely to be appropriate until 2023 or 2024, he said.
($1 = 0.7146 pounds)
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)
UK economy shows signs of stabilisation after new lockdown hit
By William Schomberg and David Milliken
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy has stabilised after a new COVID-19 lockdown last month hit retailers, and business and consumers are hopeful the vaccination campaign will spur a recovery, data showed on Friday.
The IHS Markit/CIPS flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, a survey of businesses, suggested the economy was barely shrinking in the first half of February as companies adjusted to the latest restrictions.
A separate survey of households showed consumers at their most confident since the pandemic began.
Britain’s economy had its biggest slump in 300 years in 2020, when it contracted by 10%, and will shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, the Bank of England predicts.
The central bank expects a strong subsequent recovery because of the COVID-19 vaccination programme – though policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said in a speech on Friday that the BoE could need to cut interest rates below zero later this year if unemployment stayed high.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due on Monday to announce the next steps in England’s lockdown but has said any easing of restrictions will be gradual.
Official data for January underscored the impact of the latest lockdown on retailers.
Retail sales volumes slumped by 8.2% from December, a much bigger fall than the 2.5% decrease forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and the second largest on record.
“The only good thing about the current lockdown is that it’s no way near as bad for the economy as the first one,” Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
The smaller fall in retail sales than last April’s 18% plunge reflected growth in online shopping.
BORROWING SURGE SLOWED IN JANUARY
There was some better news for finance minister Rishi Sunak as he prepares to announce Britain’s next annual budget on March 3.
Though public sector borrowing of 8.8 billion pounds ($12.3 billion) was the first January deficit in a decade, it was much less than the 24.5 billion pounds forecast in a Reuters poll.
That took borrowing since the start of the financial year in April to 270.6 billion pounds, reflecting a surge in spending and tax cuts ordered by Sunak.
The figure does not count losses on government-backed loans which could add 30 billion pounds to the shortfall this year, but the deficit is likely to be smaller than official forecasts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said.
Sunak is expected to extend a costly wage subsidy programme, at least for the hardest-hit sectors, but he said the time for a reckoning would come.
“It’s right that once our economy begins to recover, we should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable footing and I’ll always be honest with the British people about how we will do this,” he said.
Some economists expect higher taxes sooner rather than later.
“Big tax rises eventually will have to be announced, with 2022 likely to be the worst year, so that they will be far from voters’ minds by the time of the next general election in May 2024,” Samuel Tombs, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.
Public debt rose to 2.115 trillion pounds, or 97.9% of gross domestic product – a percentage not seen since the early 1960s.
The PMI survey and a separate measure of manufacturing from the Confederation of British Industry, showing factory orders suffering the smallest hit in a year, gave Sunak some cause for optimism.
IHS Markit’s chief business economist, Chris Williamson, said the improvement in business expectations suggested the economy was “poised for recovery.”
However the PMI survey showed factory output in February grew at its slowest rate in nine months. Many firms reported extra costs and disruption to supply chains from new post-Brexit barriers to trade with the European Union since Jan. 1.
Vlieghe warned against over-interpreting any early signs of growth. “It is perfectly possible that we have a short period of pent up demand, after which demand eases back again,” he said.
“We are experiencing something between a swoosh-shaped recovery and a W-shaped recovery. We are clearly not experiencing a V-shaped recovery.”
($1 = 0.7160 pounds)
(Editing by Angus MacSwan and Timothy Heritage)
Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output
By Devika Krishna Kumar
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a second day on Friday, retreating further from recent highs as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.
Brent crude futures were down 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $63.60 a barrel by 11:06 a.m. (1606 GMT) U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 60 cents, or 1%, to $59.92.
This week, both benchmarks had climbed to the highest in more than a year.
“Price pullback thus far appears corrective and is slight within the context of this month’s major upside price acceleration,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.
Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, analysts estimated.
Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.
Companies were expected to prepare for production restarts on Friday as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.
“While much of the selling relates to a gradual resumption of power in the Gulf coast region ahead of a significant temperature warmup, the magnitude of this week’s loss of supply may require further discounting given much uncertainty regarding the extent and possible duration of lost output,” Ritterbusch said.
Oil fell despite a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the big freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]
The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Still, analysts did not expect near-term reversal of sanctions on Iran that were imposed by the previous U.S. administration.
“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon.
(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Jason Neely, David Goodman and David Gregorio)
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