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In the my-deal-is-bigger-than-your-deal world of mergers and acquisitions lawyers, Robert Profusek of Jones Day in New York comes across as a breath of fresh air. “M&A is not really a specialty,” he says. “We’re not like tax or IP lawyers. … We’re not that smart.” Chalk it up to Midwestern understatement. A native of a small town near Cleveland, Profusek only officially arrived in New York in the early ’90s, after almost two decades at Jones Day’s Cleveland and Dallas offices. Profusek, a 1975 graduate of New York University School of Law, didn’t even flirt with the idea of joining a Wall Street firm when he got out of law school: “New York didn’t seem like a logical place for some guy from cow town.” Instead he went home to join what is now the nation’s third-largest firm. But don’t let that folksy charm throw you. Sitting in his bright, modernist office in midtown Manhattan, Profusek hardly resembles a country naif. He sports the uniform of a Gotham dealmaker: a flawless white shirt set off by a de rigueur Hermes tie. Two assistants hover around him, apprising him frequently of his busy schedule. But despite the self-deprecating talk, Profusek can be as fear-inducing as the next New York partner with a corner office. “Unless he’s really changed, I wouldn’t call him calm or low-key,” remembers one former Jones Day lawyer. “He’s very intense and ambitious.” Arguably, Profusek is entitled to his ego: In three decades of practice, Profusek estimates he’s done 120 to 140 “substantial deals.” By any measure, though, 2004 was exceptional. He completed 10 deals, including headliners like his representation of Nextel Communications Inc. in its $46 billion merger with Sprint Corp., and the much smaller ($55 million) but sexier acquisition of New York magazine (Profusek represented acquiror Bruce Wasserstein, who is chairman of our parent ALM Media Inc.). In the same year, he also handled two sizable deals for Wilbur Ross Jr., the distressed company investor: He represented International Steel Group Inc. in its $4.3 billion merger with Ispat International, and WL Ross & Co. LLC in its $786 million acquisition of Horizon Natural Resources Co. Read the full dealmaker profile and the complete corporate scorecard by subscribing to The American Lawyer.

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