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In August, PepsiCo Inc. announced that Larry Thompson would become its general counsel in February. Thompson, 58, formerly the second in command at the U.S. Department of Justice, also will head the government relations department at the Purchase, New York�based company, which reported $27 billion in 2003 revenue. He will replace David Andrews, who is retiring, and report directly to PepsiCo CEO Steven Reinemund. After leaving the Justice Department a year ago, Thompson taught at the University of Georgia School of Law and was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Thompson spent many years as a partner at King & Spalding, which serves as outside counsel to PepsiCo’s prime competitor, The Coca-Cola Company. Coke is also on the market for a general counsel. GC Deval Patrick is slated to leave at year-end. Coke officials would not say whether Thompson had been offered the Coke job, and Thompson was not available for comment. Thompson received a number of job offers, according to Griffin Bell, senior counsel at King & Spalding and a longtime friend. He says Thompson chose the PepsiCo position in part because it included government relations. PepsiCo’s international reach means Thompson will handle legal and business issues worldwide. “I can see how he was attracted to it,” says Bell. Thompson’s strong background in government made him an attractive candidate in an era of increased government regulation and scrutiny, say other lawyers and Pepsi-watchers. As U.S. deputy attorney general from 2001 to 2003, Thompson supervised operations at the Justice Department, including its Enron investigation. In 2002 he spearheaded the Bush administration’s Corporate Fraud Task Force, and he chaired the Department of Justice’s National Security Coordination Council. Thompson also spent time in Georgia government, in between two stints as a partner at King & Spalding. After joining the firm in 1977, he left in 1982 to spend four years as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, where he directed the Southeastern Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and served on the attorney general’s Economic Crime Council. He returned to King & Spalding in 1986, staying until 2001, when he accepted the Justice Department post. According to June Eichbaum, who specializes in general counsel recruitment for executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, many companies are seeking GCs with Washington experience. For example, she says, in January, Charlotte, North Carolina�based Bank of America Corporation hired Timothy Mayopoulos, the federal prosecutor in the Whitewater investigations. And in March McLean, Virginia � based Freddie Mac picked Ralph Boyd, Jr., a former U.S. assistant attorney general and former senior partner at Alston & Bird. (Eichbaum represented Bank of America and Freddie Mac in their GC searches.) “Who better to advise a board of directors on their exercise of fiduciary duties than someone with Larry’s experience?” she says, citing his tenure at the Justice Department, his work advising corporations for King & Spalding, and his experience as a federal prosecutor. Mark Wincek, the partner who handles the PepsiCo relationship for Kilpatrick Stockton, concurs. “[PepsiCo] needed somebody who had a good understanding of the regulatory environment as well as great legal credentials,” he says. Knowledge of government’s inner workings could be valuable to PepsiCo, which is facing a Securities and Exchange Commission probe of its beverage and snack units. Those units allegedly assisted Kmart Holding Corporation in improperly accounting by allowing the retailer to record the timing of payments improperly. Industry experts, however, say the probe is insignificant. “Pepsi’s legal situation is clean as a whistle,” says John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest. He called the Kmart accounting issue “minor and immaterial.” According to Bell, Thompson will work out of PepsiCo’s New York headquarters but keep a home in Atlanta, where he has lived for many years.

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