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King & Spalding announced today that Jim Woolery has joined the firm’s Corporate group in New York as a partner and head of the firm’s M&A and Corporate Governance practices. Woolery will lead a team advising clients on a wide variety of corporate issues, including activist defense and complex transactions.

“We are extremely pleased to strengthen our corporate capabilities and opportunities in New York with a senior deal-maker, strategic advisor and board counselor of Jim’s caliber,” said Robert D. Hays, chairman of King & Spalding. “The addition of Jim to the firm is consistent with our strategy to increase our corporate presence in New York. Jim’s legal, investment banking and hedge fund experience and extensive network of relationships with CEOs, directors and general counsel provide him with insight and tactics few others have. Our public company clients will welcome Jim’s innovative approach to preventing and defending against activists.”

“I am very pleased to be joining King & Spalding, which is a firm that has tremendous growth momentum, a strong global platform and a commitment to client service that matches mine,” said Woolery. “It also has a true entrepreneurial energy and in my extensive conversations with the firm – with Robert and other partners as well as associates – I was impressed with both the people and the firm’s long-term commitment to its corporate strategy. I see an exciting opportunity to leverage my experience to serve K&S’s impressive list of clients and establish a truly unique and world-class practice in New York.”

Prior to joining King & Spalding, Woolery was a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, where he also established and led Cravath’s Business Development and Strategy Group. After 17 years at Cravath, Woolery became co-head of North American Mergers and Acquisitions at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. In 2013, Woolery joined Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft as deputy chairman and co-chair of the firm’s Corporate Department, where he advised numerous companies on a variety of corporate issues, and was responsible for business development, strategy and external relations. Most recently, Woolery was a founder and managing partner of Hudson Executive Capital, an investment firm established with numerous public CEO partners and investors that sought to create value in U.S. middle-market companies through constructive shareholder engagement.

Over his career, Woolery has advised on over $750 billion in transactions. His clients ranged from the world’s largest corporate and financial institutions to middle-market companies all looking to grow their business and maximize shareholder value. Notable transactions on which Woolery has worked include two of the biggest leveraged buyouts in history: the acquisition of Dell by Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners and the buyout of TXU Corp. by KKR and TPG. He also has deep experience advising boards in takeover and activist situations, including Air Products’ public tender offer and proxy fight for Airgas and Clorox’s successful defense against Carl Icahn.

Woolery has been one of the leading voices on improving the dialogue between shareholders and boards. He was a co-founder of the Shareholder-Director Exchange (SDX), an initiative comprised of leading independent directors and representatives from some of the largest and most influential long-term institutional investors. This initiative created the SDX Protocol, a set of guidelines to provide a framework for shareholder-director engagements.

At King & Spalding, Woolery will help lead the firm’s Lead Director Network, which brings together a select group of lead directors, presiding directors and non-executive chairmen from many of America’s leading companies for private discussions about how to improve the performance of their corporations and earn the trust of their shareholders through more director and long-term shareholder engagement.