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Name and title: David A. Savner, senior vice president and general counsel, secretary to the corporation and board of directors Age: 61 Defense, defense, defense: General Dynamics Corp. (G.D.), headquartered in Falls Church, Va., is a leading supplier of defense systems to the United States and its allies. It is also at the forefront of the business-jet niche. The publicly traded contractor conducts its business in four discrete areas: information and technology (command and control systems); marine (nuclear submarines and other warships); combat (tanks, assault vehicles and munitions); and aerospace (business jets and aircraft services). G.D. ranks No. 115 on the Fortune 500, with two-thirds of its sales generated by the U.S. government. General Dynamics was officially established in 1952, though its organizational roots extend back to the late 1800s. G.D. formed when its predecessor and current operating division, Electric Boat, began construction on the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. Government as customer: Savner alluded to the uniqueness of conducting business with the federal government, describing a dynamic where law, national defense and politics “all come to bear.” The Pentagon decides what, and how much, it wants to procure and attempts to dictate purchase terms and conditions. Congress then must appropriate the funds. Unlike in the commercial marketplace, defense contracts are continually evolving and are adjusted to changing circumstances. Multiyear, long-term programs such as submarine construction or armored-vehicle production are in continual flux and, when it comes to contracts, Savner’s team must adapt to the changes. General Dynamics has “lots of intellectual property issues,” but since these revolve mainly around the government rather than private parties, there are infrequent lawsuits. Savner described partners such as the Department of Defense as “accommodating.” The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, touched General Dynamics. Its accumulation of information security and technology businesses “gave us the ability to respond to the needs of the government” after the terrorist attacks. And to fulfill the needs of the subsequent Iraq War, it produced highly mobile, armored Stryker assault vehicles. Other recent military contracts include a U.S. Navy arrangement with G.D. to maintain, repair and alter the warship USS Augusta, and production orders from the U.S. Army for 526 machine guns and 2,000 machine gun barrels. Daily duties: Savner, his squad or outside counsel deal regularly with the Department of Defense on contracts, auditing issues and regulatory matters. The exporting of defense articles and services is “very closely” monitored under the Foreign Commerce in Defense and International Traffic in Arms Regulations and, as a result, Savner also has dealings with the U.S. Department of State on “a fairly regular basis.” The Department of Justice oversees the firm’s mergers and acquisitions activities and the Securities and Exchange Commission reviews its regulatory filings broadly and Sarbanes-Oxley-related matters specifically. G.D. is “very decentralized,” and Savner works on a daily basis with executives responsible for large segments of the business. He also communicates regularly with the chief financial officer, as well as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Nicholas D. Chabraja. Legal team and outside counsel: Savner manages a staff of 45 attorneys, all civilians, with six stationed at corporate headquarters and the remainder based throughout the company’s U.S. and worldwide subsidiaries. The firm’s use of external counsel is a “function of its recent history.” In 1991, it was the nation’s largest defense contractor, with $10 billion in revenues. It sold off several business units in the subsequent three-year period, whittling its revenues down to $3.5 billion. Following a burst of mergers and acquisitions under Savner’s watch, G.D.’s last reported numbers were revenues of $19.2 billion and 70,800 employees. The burgeoning company has since “followed a pattern of strategic partnering relationships” with various third-party providers, including law firms. Savner calls on Washington’s Hogan & Hartson for antitrust work and Baker & McKenzie for overseas M&A and regulatory affairs. General Dynamics has “significant operations” in the United Kingdom, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Australia, and Baker & McKenzie attorneys typically advise on local legal issues. They also work with in-house lawyers on matters such as ensuring that elements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act fulfill foreign requirements. Jenner & Block of Chicago has carried on a 40-year relationship with the defense contractor as well. G.D.’s GC tries to meet once a year with the firm’s non-U.S. lawyers to make certain that “all are singing out of the same hymnal.” Career highlights: Savner has been “very instrumental” in 40 separate business acquisitions completed by G.D. since 1995, which expended $14 billion in cash and stock in the process. He characterized this significant facet of the law department’s responsibilities as “a challenge to all of us that we have discharged well.” He and his group identify new growth areas and potential business partners, perform due diligence and spearhead integration activity. They negotiate deals after obtaining the appropriate antitrust approval. General Dynamics has four business segments and 17 subsidiaries, each with its own legal team. Savner takes pride in managing such a diffuse legal apparatus, and seeks to ensure that each attorney is responsible for his or her own business operations. He insists that they “regularly and promptly” report to him on matters of significance. Route to the top: Savner practiced at several Chicago-area firms from 1968 until 1998. Most recently, from 1987 to 1998, he was a partner at Jenner & Block. Savner joined General Dynamics at his current position in 1998 and, although his legal background is in mergers and acquisitions and corporate law, he claims to have evolved into a generalist. Savner graduated from Northwestern University in 1965, and from Northwestern University School of Law in 1968. Personal: Born in Chicago, Savner is married to Libby and is the father of Jennifer, 36, and Michael, 32. He devotes his spare time to visiting his grandchildren. Last book and movie: Saturday, by Ian McEwan, and March of the Penguins. -Roger Adler

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