Ex-Dentons U.S. antitrust head joins Manatt in Chicago

REUTERS/Tim Wimborne
  • Stephen Libowsky is "going to be very busy" at Manatt, said CEO Donna Wilson
  • The firm is looking to grow in Chicago

(Reuters) - Stephen Libowsky, who led Dentons' U.S. antitrust practice until earlier this year and whose clients have included the Chicago Bulls, has joined Manatt, Phelps & Phillips as its top antitrust partner, the firm announced Wednesday.

Libowsky, who will be a partner in Manatt's Chicago office, is an antitrust "double threat" due to his experience in both litigation and transactions, including pre-merger analysis and handling government scrutiny, said Donna Wilson, Manatt's chief executive officer and managing partner.

Libowsky will be leading the firm's antitrust practice across the platform, Wilson said; in a traditional firm, he might hold the title of antitrust practice leader, but Wilson said Manatt is organized by industry sectors. "Someone like Steve, with his breadth of expertise, cuts across all of those industry sectors," Wilson said.

"He’s going to be very busy," she added.

Libowsky has deep roots in the Windy City that Manatt is looking to tap. He joined Dentons legacy firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in 2010 just before the Chicago-based firm merged with London's Denton Wilde Sapte.

Prior to that, he completed tours of duty at now-defunct Howrey LLP and at Katten Muchin Rosenman.

Wilson said Los Angeles-based Manatt is looking to expand the size of its Chicago office, both in terms of its headcount and the actual physical space. A firm spokesperson said Manatt has more than 30 attorneys and professionals in Chicago, and Wilson said they "have some more hires on the horizon."

Libowsky told Reuters that his decision to leave Dentons in mid-September was "a personal decision." He said he served as the sole head of the global law firm's U.S. antitrust practice for about six years until he stepped down earlier this year.

"After X number of years, it’s good to have different people involved," Libowsky said, noting that he turns 64 in December. "It was time to let others have an opportunity."

Libowsky said he has friends at Manatt, describing it as a "first rate" firm that "does things differently and incredibly well."

Apart from the Bulls, Libowsky's clients have included Wyeth, a pharmaceutical company that later merged with Pfizer Inc in a $67 billion deal in 2009, and Molex Inc, an electronic connectors manufacturer that was purchased by privately owned Koch Industries in 2013.

Libowsky was among the Dentons attorneys who advised Czech-based chemicals producer Draslovka Holding on its $520 million acquisition of the U.S.-based Chemours Company, announced last month.

He declined to say whether his clients were coming with him to Manatt.

"The type of work I do is in many, many industries," Libowsky said.

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.