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GC Plays Center Field for Bloomberg
The National Law Journal
Name and title: Karl P. Kilb III, general counsel, risk manager
Font of financial data: Bloomberg L.P. is a global source of financial information, news and analytics. It provides financial and market data, pricing, trading and communications tools. The company's holdings include television and radio stations. Bloomberg's target markets include corporations, news organizations, financial professionals, lawyers and private individuals worldwide. The company was founded in 1981 by Michael R. Bloomberg, who stepped down as chairman of the company before his election as the mayor of New York City in 2001. Corporate headquarters are in New York, where Bloomberg employs approximately 5,000 people, with an additional 5,000 employees scattered around the world. The privately held firm does not divulge revenue figures.
Legal team and outside counsel: Kilb manages a team of 16 attorneys in New York, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. He meets personally with the foreign-based lawyers once a year. When seeking outside advice, Kilb primarily retains attorneys based on jurisdiction. He values referrals, and often receives recommendations from New York-based Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Bloomberg's primary outside counsel in the United States and Europe. Kilb also relies on his list of intellectual property lawyers and securities specialists in various markets. The Bloomberg company operates in 132 countries, and Kilb has access to outside counsel in all of them. He reports to Chairman of the Board Peter T. Grauer and board member Richard K. DeScherer.
Daily duties: Kilb's work spans all aspects of the company's global business. He orchestrates the response to "almost any legal issue." He serves as Bloomberg's risk manager. He handles all insurance policies, including professional liability, property, casualty and workers' compensation. Intellectual property is another fundamental practice area, encompassing customer, data, software, hardware and telecommunications agreements. The review of editorial content and the syndication of multimedia products are additional responsibilities, as are global securities regulations covering electronic trading and trade order management systems. Kilb gets involved in employment matters when they are not covered by the human resources department. Kilb's workday typically begins at 7:30 a.m. and continues into the evening as he addresses legal issues that crop up in the Asia-Pacific region.
Kilb kudos: In July, Bloomberg's original limited partner, Merrill Lynch & Co., agreed to sell its 20 percent stake in the company back to Bloomberg. Kilb helped arrange the transaction, which was valued at a reported $4.43 billion. He continues to determine the course of the company's business with Merrill Lynch, which remains a major customer. Another career milestone was his assistance in the development, marketing and licensing of the Bloomberg Professional service, a real-time financial information network. Kilb views the leasing of the service's specialized computer terminals as a core business for Bloomberg. The service now claims more than 300,000 users, compared to 12,000 licensees in the early days.
Kilb's imprint on Bloomberg products extends to electronic trading platforms and global multimedia services, including 11 television channels and satellite radio distribution.
Miscellaneous: Kilb approaches Sarbanes-Oxley Act regulations as benchmarks to be followed for best practices. He reasons that since Bloomberg's customers are subject to the rules, it is prudent for his company to keep them in mind. With Bloomberg operating throughout the world, Kilb must be aware of a myriad foreign laws. The Bloomberg firm is active on the philanthropic front, as well. Its Best of Bloomberg program identifies worthy causes. Various departments, legal included, volunteer their time and effort to pro bono work.
Route to present position: After graduating magna cum laude from New York University in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism, Kilb wanted to become a lawyer, but he also enjoyed broadcasting. So he combined the two. He attended the Fordham University School of Law at night, while working by day as a broadcast journalist for New York's 1010 WINS radio and CNBC television.
At CNBC in the early 1990s, he got his first exposure to a Bloomberg Professional service terminal, which aggregates all types of financial data, news and analytics on a single, all-inclusive platform. Hearing that Bloomberg had purchased a radio station, Kilb decided to call for a job interview. Michael Bloomberg himself got on the phone and invited him in. Although still a journalist, Kilb told Bloomberg that his goal was to be in-house counsel at an intellectual property company. He was hired on the spot.
The future general counsel's career at Bloomberg began with Kilb serving as a morning radio host. He then moved to the TV side. As he advanced through law school, Kilb became involved in crafting data agreements for the company. He later assumed terminal and product development responsibilities.
Upon graduation, he worked on more complex legal issues, ultimately being promoted to general counsel. In 1996, he became a founding principal of Bloomberg Tradebook, a global brokerage subsidiary.
Personal: Kilb and his wife, CBS News correspondent Alexis Christoforous Kilb, are the parents of two sons: Karl IV, 5, and Trevor, 3. A New York native, Kilb was raised in the Bronx and Pearl River, N.Y. All sports, especially baseball, fill his spare time, and he "lived a lifetime dream" by participating in a recent New York Yankees Fantasy Camp. Kilb wore the coveted uniform #44 of former star Reggie Jackson. He played center field, and a Kilb catch was even replayed on the scoreboard.
He makes the analogy that "playing center field is like being a general counsel. There is a lot of ground to cover, and you need to be ready for anything." Either way, he said, the general counsel often is the last line of defense.
Kilb urges general counsel to immerse themselves in every aspect of their business, in order to anticipate what will be required for any potential agreement. Also essential, he said, is to stay ahead of the curve of technology.
Last book and movie: "Yankee Stadium: The Official Retrospective," by Mark Vancil and Alfred Santasiere III, and "The Bucket List."