Friday, February 29, 2008

FTC Chair to Become P&G VP-General Counsel


FTC Chairwoman Debora Platt Majoras will resign from the FTC and will join Procter & Gamble as Vice-President General Counsel, its number two attorney.

P&G's current general counsel, James Johnson, earlier this month announced his plans to retire in June. The company named deputy general counsel Steven Jemison, 56, as his successor. There is speculation that Majoras, who is over ten years younger, will be in line to succeed Jemison when he retires.

Majoras will primarily be responsible for the company's global antitrust and litigation departments. P&G is the top-spending advertiser in the country, according to Nielsen, and is involved in a number of big cases. For example, P&G's $57 billion acquisition of Gillette was allowed by the FTC in 2005, though the FTC required P&G to divest some of its brands, and Majoras recused herself because her husband's law firm was involved in the case. As another example of P&G's litigation practice, yesterday an opinion was issued by a district court in Delaware in favor of P&G in a patent infringement lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals related to an osteoporosis therapy, Actonel. Teva had sought to market a generic version of the drug, asserting that P&G's patent was invalid for obviousness. The court rejected the argument, ruling in favor of P&G after a bench trial. The opinion, P&G v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., No. 04-940-JJF (D.Del. Feb. 28, 2008), is available here (.pdf). In recent years, the FTC has had significant involvement in cases related to lawsuits and settlements between brand name and generic drug manufacturers, and Majoras experience in these types of suits may prove valuable to P&G.

As we reported a few days ago, recent surveys demonstrate that top in-house counsel positions, especially at large consumer goods companies, can be highly lucrative, which may be one reason for the move. Majoras has Chaired the FTC since August 2004, prior to which she worked at Jones Day and the DOJ Antitrust division. FTC William Kovacic is expected to be appointed to replace her as Chair.

Links to the Majoras story: WSJ Law Blog, FTC, Cincinnati Enquirer, Adage.
Update June 6, 2008: Corporate Counsel magazine reported that Jemison took the helm at P&G's legal department on June 1, and that Majoras was in line to eventually succeed him, citing blog contributor Daniel Kotchen.
 

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