11 June 2020

Around the house: GCs arrive at Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency, Denny's and Radisson

Robert Werner and Gail Sharps Myers: embarking on new GC roles

Our latest in-house appointments round-up also sees CLOC appoint an executive director

The Facebook-backed blockchain digital currency Libra has hired Robert Werner to be its first general counsel as it gears up to get regulatory approval for the highly controversial project.

Werner, who had spent the previous three years as a consultant, has enjoyed a heavyweight career as a top regulatory lawyer both in public service and in the banking sector. Previous private sector roles include enterprise executive for policy, privacy and regulatory relations at Goldman Sachs while he has also held several senior roles at United States Department of the Treasury, including as Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The appointment follows April’s publication of version two of the Libra Association’s white paper in which it responded to the storm of protest from banking regulators and politicians that met the launch of the original white paper in June 2019, crucially dropping plans for a floating digital currency.

Werner said: “I have dedicated my career to combating financial crime and helping complex organisations achieve regulatory compliance, both in government and in the private sector. I look forward to meaningfully contributing to such an impactful project.” His appointment follows hard on the heels of that of HSBC’s chief legal officer, Stuart Levey, to be the Libra Association’s CEO

Denny's mission to grow

US Restaurant chain Denny's has appointed Gail Sharps Myers to succeed Tim Flemming as its next general counsel. She is joining from American Tire Distributors, where she was GC, secretary and chief compliance officer, a post she held for two years. Flemming retired in January after 27 years at the South Carolina-based company, which has approximately 1,700 franchised, licensed, and company restaurants around the world including 147 overseas in 14 countries.

CEO John Miller said: "Ms Myers is a welcome addition to the team and the Denny's family. We are confident that her insights and fresh perspective will be invaluable to our mission to drive growth and build long-term shareholder value for Denny's."

CLOC's new director

Betsi Roach has been appointed executive director of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) where she will lead the organisation’s full-time staff, oversee global membership activities and partner with the board in setting strategy and direction. Roach was formerly director of the Legal Marketing Association, where she spent nearly 12 years, with prior roles including director of the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law and practice development manager at Farella Braun + Martel.

“This is a really exciting time in legal operations,” she said. “From moving away from the billable hour, to streamlining and redefining value chains, to improving the way we use data and technology, there are so many big opportunities. Our industry needs smart, driven people sharing ideas and collaborating on solutions. And that is what CLOC is all about.”

Former Skadden restructuring partner arrives at Lazard

Leading London restructuring lawyer Chris Mallon has joined Lazard‘s Financial Advisory arm as a senior adviser. Mallon, a former partner at Skadden, will provide strategic counsel to Lazard’s global restructuring practice and its clients. David Burlison, managing director and co-head of Lazard’s EMEA Restructuring practice, said: “Chris is an outstanding restructuring adviser with a formidable reputation built over decades advising on many high-profile assignments.’’

Mallon added: “Having worked alongside and across the table from Lazard on many occasions, I have experienced first-hand the quality of the restructuring team and how it works closely with Lazard’s industry groups and capital advisory professionals.” Mallon will continue both as a non-executive director to Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) and as co-editor of The Law and Practice of Restructuring in the UK and US. 

Ofcom GC moves to private sector

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom’s general counsel, Polly Weitzman, is joining broadband provider CityFibre in the newly created role of senior general counsel. The former Dentons partner is moving back to the private sector after 15 years at Ofcom as its GC. To avoid conflicts of interest, according to a statement by Ofcom, she has left with immediate effect and will take up her new role on 1 January 2020.

CityFibre chief executive Greg Mesch said: “Polly will join us as CityFibre passes a major inflection point in our growth, accelerating our rollouts to over 100 towns and cities and playing an important role in delivering the Government’s target of Full Fibre nationwide by 2025.” Martin Ballantyne, currently legal director at Ofcom, has been appointed interim general counsel.

Radisson secures new Asia legal head

Radisson Hotel Group has appointed Nisha Menon as its new Asia Pacific general counsel, based in Singapore. She has joined from Singapore healthcare provider Parkway Pantai, where she was a senior legal counsel. Before that she spent two years as an associate at Withers in Singapore.

Asia Pacific president Katerina Giannouka said: “Her experience speaks for itself; in the last decade she has worked on an impressive number of prestigious projects, involving complex cross-border transactions for multinational companies. Her intricate familiarity with legal matters in various Asia Pacific countries, accompanied by her knowledge of the hospitality industry, will play a key role in helping Radisson Hotel Group to achieve our strategic goals across the region.”

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