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Apple Computers Inc.’s covert six-month search for a general counsel to replace Nancy Heinen culminated in an announcement Monday that the Mac maker has hired Donald Rosenberg. The former IBM GC may be just what Apple needs. Described by peers as a deft negotiator who knows when to settle and when to battle, Rosenberg also has solid relationships with regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission. His arrival at the company comes at a time when Apple is still working through its stock options management mess. An independent committee hired to investigate company option practices found that stock option grants made on 15 dates between 1997 and 2002 appear to have grant dates that precede the approval of those grants. The findings are under review by Apple and its independent auditors. Company management believes Apple will need to restate financial statements. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges partner William Urquhart, who has worked with Rosenberg as outside counsel for more than a decade, said Apple is gaining an attorney who has credibility with the regulators. “That credibility, you can’t buy it,” Urquhart said. “It’s invaluable for a company to have somebody who can discuss something with the regulators and have the regulators believe what that person says, and he’s one of those people.” In a press release, Apple highlighted Rosenberg’s litigation, securities, intellectual property and antitrust experience, and said that he will oversee all legal matters and government affairs. “We’re thrilled to welcome such a seasoned professional to our executive team,” CEO Steve Jobs said in a press release. An Apple spokesman Monday declined to make Rosenberg available for an interview or issue any further comment. Rosenberg only took over the position of IBM’s senior vice president and general counsel this past January. A company spokesman said IBM hasn’t decided whether he will be replaced. In his 30 years at Big Blue, Rosenberg was the primary contact for government regulatory agencies, including the Department of Justice and the SEC, in corporate compliance and enforcement proceedings. Rosenberg was involved in a broad range of cases, including securities, class actions, patent, copyright, trademark and antitrust. Though he wasn’t available on Monday, Rosenberg told Corporate Counsel magazine last year that he savors one particular victory from the mid-1990s, in which he played a role in persuading a federal court to terminate IBM’s 1956 antitrust consent decree, which barred the computer giant from offering technology consulting services. “It was outdated and burdensome,” he told the magazine. Urquhart said Rosenberg is one of best negotiators he has ever met. “He’s very good at determining when to settle, how much to settle for, and has the courage to wait and not take the first offer,” Urquhart said. “He’s also willing to try difficult cases,” he added, pointing to In re IBM San Jose Workers Litigation, the first toxic tort case involving the microelectronics industry to go to trial in the nation. Jones Day successfully won a unanimous defense verdict in a jury trial at the Santa Clara County Superior Court. “It takes a lot of courage to take a case like that to trial,” Urquhart said. Former opponent Eric Dubelier, now an attorney at Reed Smith in Washington, D.C., was an assistant U.S. attorney pursuing a criminal case against IBM in the mid-1990s. Though Dubelier declined to identify the case, an IBM subsidiary pleaded guilty in 1998 to illegally selling 17 high-performance computers to a Russian nuclear weapons laboratory, according to the Washington Post. Dubelier is named in Post story as the prosecutor. “He participated in most meetings and he was instrumental in getting a resolution for IBM that was highly favorable to them,” Dubelier said. Judging from general conversations the two have had in the years since that case, Dubelier said Rosenberg was probably ripe for a change. “Maybe he felt that he had done everything he could at IBM, he reached the top of a major U.S. corporation and he’s probably looking for a new challenge,” he said. “Don is part of that elite group of lawyers who’s qualified for a position like that.”

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