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JUDGE OKS PG&E SETTLEMENT TALKS The two competing plans for reorganizing bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric Co. moved one step closer to a resolution Tuesday after a federal bankruptcy judge gave the green light to proceed with judicially supervised settlement negotiations. In a six-page order, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali stayed the plan confirmation trial for 60 days, as PG&E, the California Public Utilities Commission and various creditors head into settlement talks. The settlement talks are being overseen by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Randall Newsome. The trial to confirm a reorganization plan for PG&E began in November. In February, Judge Montali suspended the trial for about a month after PG&E filed modifications to its reorganization plan, which altered some of its financial aspects. Last week, Montali ordered the parties to have a conference with Newsome to explore whether settlement talks would be worthwhile. According to Tuesday’s order, Judge Newsome “has now advised this court that he had decided to go forward with the settlement conference.” “Consequently, to maximize the possibility of a successful settlement conference and to avoid the distractions of ongoing litigation, Judge Newsome (without objection by the parties) has requested this court to stay all proceedings in the confirmation trial for 60 days, effective immediately,” the order continued. The order also stayed all ongoing discovery proceedings in the trial, and canceled status conferences set for Thursday and March 27. — Alexei Oreskovic GRAY CARY ADDS GCA FOUNDER IN PALO ALTO Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich has called on Fred Schwarzer to head its life sciences corporate practice group in Palo Alto. “We have a strong life sciences practice, but have never had a Bay Area partner focused on it,” said Howard Clowes, the firm’s managing partner of transactions. Schwarzer last served as president and executive director of Mingly Capital Corp., a Palo Alto venture capital firm that focuses on life sciences companies. He has also served as CEO of Heska Corp., a public biotechnology company that he led through venture capital financing and an initial public offering. Before joining Heska, Schwarzer founded General Counsel Associates, a Silicon Valley law firm with a no-associates business model. Schwarzer also worked as an associate and partner at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, which is now Pillsbury Winthrop, from 1978 to 1988. “Fred took Heska public and did deals. The combination of that with his VC experience and incredibly strong legal background made him perfect [for the job],” Clowes said. Schwarzer earned his J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law in 1978. — Jason Dearen

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