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NAME AND TITLE: Nelson A. (Tony) Bangs, senior vice president, general counsel. AGE: 49 THE COMPANY: Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group owns the Neiman Marcus department store chain, with 33 upscale stores across the country, and two Bergdorf Goodman stores in New York. The company also operates 12 clearance centers and a mail-order business, and owns a majority interest in handbag hawker Kate Spade and cosmetic maker Gurwitch Bristow Products. The 15,000-employee company had $3.02 billion in revenues last year. BANGS’ BARRISTER BOUTIQUE: GC Tony Bangs was hired in 2001 to establish a new law office for the newly autonomous company. He hired Finlay Gow, formerly in-house at Pizza Hut, to deal with labor and employment matters and brought in Kim Yee as vice president of compliance and regulatory compliance. Rounding out the legal team are Elizabeth Cox, a part-time contracts lawyer who handles intellectual property matters and vendor negotiations, and paralegal Paula Sotelo. This lean law office farms out nearly all litigation. The lawyers are kept busy with mergers and acquisitions, vendor agreements, SEC matters and counseling on regulatory compliance, IP and employment law. ACCOUNTING FOR SALES: Like general counsel of other large companies, Bangs has been focused on the new corporate accounting requirements under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which require CEOs and CFOs to certify financial reports. Unlike most of his colleagues, though, who scrambled to meet an Aug. 14 certification deadline for calendar-year filers, Bangs still has a few more weeks to get it right. With a fiscal year ending on Aug. 3, Neiman-Marcus’ certified 10-K form is due on Nov. 2. Bangs, however, did not relax this summer. By August, he was meeting regularly with the audit committee, controller and top management to ensure a “comfort level” with the company’s numbers before Sept. 10, when Neiman Marcus released its annual earnings statement. Bangs and the company’s top financial officials signed internal certifications of the numbers and accounting methods before the earnings statement, and will do so again after reviewing the draft 10-K. Neiman Marcus was already complying with the “spirit” of Sarbanes-Oxley, Bangs said, but top management wants to take make sure there are no lurking accounting problems. He also expects that the law’s regulations “will require the audit committee to become much more involved in the creation of our company’s financial statements, from the ground up, including the review and development of internal control initiatives. “It’s a bulky process, but it will streamline itself,” Bangs predicts. LITIGATION: For a publicly held company that opens its doors to the general public, Neiman Marcus has remained relatively unscathed in court. The company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission report no material lawsuits against the company. However, Neiman Marcus’ name and retail business makes litigation inevitable. In 1998, for example, a federal jury in Atlanta awarded $962,500, including $100,000 in punitive damages, to a woman who was chased and strip-searched by store security guards who believed — incorrectly, it turned out — that she had shoplifted underwear. The next year, Neiman Marcus and the building owner of its Chicago store, Olympia & York, reached a $4.5 million settlement with the estate of a man killed when a 100-pound slab of ice fell from the structure. Bangs demurred on commenting on these suits, which predate his tenure, but said he tries to reach a prompt resolution of any potential legal claim by clientele. “These are our customers, and we don’t want them to be adverse to the company’s interest,” he said. However, Neiman Marcus has been unable to stay out of court in intellectual property disputes. It is among the scores of defendants in patent infringement lawsuits brought by the estate of Jerome Lemelson, a prolific inventor and patent filer who allegedly invented a forerunner to the bar code scanner. Bangs says that the company was involved in “extensive,” but unsuccessful, settlement discussions earlier this year. In December 2000, the heavy metal band Metallica — whose albums “Kill ‘Em All” or “Live Sh*t: Binge and Purge” have never graced Neiman Marcus’ or Bergdorf Goodman’s shelves — filed a trademark infringement complaint in Los Angeles against the retailer and perfume maker Guerlain over sales of “Metallica” fragrance. “They seem to think they own all rights to the word ‘Metallica,’ no matter what the context,” said Bangs, who added that Guerlain has taken the lead in defending the case. Neiman Marcus is on the offensive to protect its own trademark in cyberspace. Like other big-name retailers, the company is pestered by Internet pirates who waylay potential customers by registering domain names with slight variations of its brand. Bangs responds aggressively against these sites, he said, and creates a buffer by obtaining rights to the misspelled Web site address. MAIN OUTSIDE COUNSEL: Neiman Marcus does not have a principal outside counsel, but is creating new ties with Dallas-Ft. Worth firms, Bangs said. The company has a long-standing relationship with Dallas’ Thompson & Knight, which handles employment, labor, IP and litigation matters. The retailer is also a regular customer of Arter & Hadden, Baker Botts, Latham & Watkins and Kilpatrick & Lockhart. ESCALATOR TO THE TOP: The Dallas native graduated in 1975 from San Antonio’s Trinity University and returned home to Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, where he earned his law degree in 1978. He was an associate at two Dallas firms before joining the in-house office of Dallas-based Dr Pepper Co. in 1981. He became general counsel of Dr Pepper in 1984, and stayed as top lawyer of Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc. after the two soda makers merged in 1988. Bangs battled antitrust regulators through much of his time in the fizzy sugar water field — including a Department of Justice investigation of alleged price-fixing between Dr Pepper and Coca-Cola, a Federal Trade Commission challenge to the companies’ proposed merger and various DOJ and FTC inquiries into citrus-pulp pricing, the sale of a San Antonio bottling plant and alleged price-fixing among St. Louis bottlers. Bangs’ biggest battle with trustbusters involved the FTC’s efforts to prevent the transfer of Seven Up bottling licenses from ailing independent bottlers to stronger companies already affiliated with Coke or Pepsi. The FTC’s initial blockage of this deal in 1988 caused a two-year dry spell of Seven Up distribution in New York, the company’s largest market. Bangs led a legal counterattack against the feds, lobbying Congress while suing the FTC under the Administrative Procedure Act. Bangs reached a settlement with the government that was “100 percent in our interest,” after a litigation roller-coaster ride that included a win before an administrative law judge, a reversal by the FTC, a favorable district court ruling and a circuit court appeal by the government. Bangs left Dr Pepper/Seven Up in 1998 for a nine-month stint as general counsel and vice president of Pillowtex Corp. before becoming an outside counsel and consultant for Pillowtex. He joined Neiman Marcus as general counsel in April 2001. FAMILY: His wife, Vera Bangs, is a former litigation partner at the Dallas office of Houston’s Liddell Sapp Zidely Brown (now Locke Liddell & Sapp). The couple live in Dallas with their children, Veronica, 15, Valerie, 13, and Ted, 10. LAST BOOK READ: “Thundering Herd,” by James A. Ball, a not-yet-published memoir about high school football written by a friend at Dr Pepper.

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