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The antitrust practice at Howrey Simon Arnold & White made a comeback in 2003. And it showed in the firm’s financial performance. A drop-off in merger activity slowed the growth of the antitrust practice in 2001 and 2002, says managing partner Robert Ruyak. But work started picking up in 2003. The D.C.-based firm’s revenue increased by nearly 25 percent, to $386.7 million from $309.8 million the year before. The D.C. office showed an 11 percent increase in revenue, ending with $192.8 million. Howrey’s big antitrust cases in 2003 fired up the firm’s profits per partner and the office’s net operating income. Both soared by more than 50 percent. Howrey’s equity partners took home more than $1 million in profits, the highest ever for the firm. The year before, partners banked an average of $700,000. The office’s net operating income came close to $70 million, compared with $44 million in 2002. Along with a record-setting billion-dollar antitrust settlement, the firm racked up multimillion-dollar verdicts in insurance recovery litigation, and a patent infringement victory against the Microsoft Corp. on behalf of Imagexpo LLC. “We put all that stuff together, we had a very good year,” Ruyak says. Last year, the firm represented 98 clients in 300 mergers and acquisitions transactions, 50 clients in more than 200 antitrust litigation cases, and 64 clients in government investigations worldwide, according to the antitrust annual report provided by the firm. The highlight for Howrey last year was the $1.4 billion negotiated settlement of a class action brought on behalf of 175,000 tobacco farmers against six cigarette companies. The farmers alleged that the companies unlawfully agreed to bid low prices at tobacco leaf auctions. In class actions, courts determine attorney fees after the case is over, based on the firm’s risk in taking the case and the outcome. In the tobacco farmer case, a federal judge in North Carolina awarded Howrey a percentage on top of the attorney fees, Ruyak says. In mergers and acquisitions, Howrey represented the Oracle Corp. as it was being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department related to the computer software company’s offer to buy PeopleSoft Inc. When the Federal Trade Commission reviewed Nestl� S.A.’s acquisition of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Inc., Howrey represented Nestl� in the transaction. Yet Ruyak admits 2003 may have been a unique year for the firm. The dramatic increases in revenue and profit last year were extraordinary, Ruyak says. Profits per partner may not be quite as high in 2004, he warns. Especially with the tobacco farmer case, 2003 was “like getting more than your normal rate.”

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