With revenues of more than $7 billion, Cox Automotive is one of three divisions of privately owned, Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises Inc.
Cox Automotive came together formally in 2014 and includes the global company’s brands such as Autotrader, Dealer.com, Dealertrack, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, NextGear Capital, VinSolutions, vAuto, Clutch, Pivet and Xtime. Cox Automotive has more than 40,000 auto dealers and clients across five continents and more than 34,000 employees.
Angus Haig is the automotive business’ senior vice president and general counsel.
When Haig joined Cox Automotive in April 2018, he reorganized and restructured the legal department, creating several new roles, including attorneys each specializing in intellectual property and marketing, data strategy and technology, strategy, international and mobility, as well as legal operations.
With several new hires, including some more junior attorneys to “help fill the pipeline,” Haig said he has grown his department from a couple of dozen lawyers to about 30 in his 11-month tenure. About two-thirds of those are based in Atlanta, with others in California, Vermont, New York, Indiana, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, among other places.
“We try to keep as much as we possibly can in-house,” Haig said, noting this work includes employment, supply chain, retail, media, marketing and IP issues, as well as data strategy and technology. “A key part of my strategy was to bring our outside counsel costs down by insourcing the work.”
Given that Haig is finishing up a thorough request-for-proposal process as part of a convergence, he declined to name the firms to which he regularly turns. However, he said that he does outsource some transactional work, employment and litigation but for the latter also relies heavily on two experienced in-house litigators in Cox Enterprises’ Litigation Center of Excellence.
The convergence, undertaken in coordination with the other Cox divisions and Cox Enterprises, aims to bring the number of firms they work with from “several hundred to the 50s,” Haig said.
“Cox Enterprises and its three divisions have come together to approach the legal convergence project as a very collaborative team so that we can all get the benefit of the effect of convergence,” he said.
“I do everything from litigation, antitrust, employment to transactional issues, basically everything and anything,” Haig said, adding that he also does a lot of work around people, human resources, marketing, IP and digital promotions, as well as budget and legal operational issues.
Route to the Top
Haig began his legal career in Adelaide, South Australia, where he was born and educated. He worked as an associate to a judge on the Supreme Court of South Australia and then as a solicitor in Adelaide for several years before moving to Sydney and joining The Coca-Cola Co. in 1998 as division marketing counsel for Coca-Cola South Pacific.
In 2001, he completed a short-term assignment in Shanghai, and upon return to Australia was promoted to region counsel for Coca-Cola Australia. Shortly thereafter, he moved to London for three years as group marketing counsel for Coca-Cola Europe, Eurasia and Middle East before moving back to Sydney to become division GC for Coca-Cola South Pacific and Korea.
In late 2006, Haig moved from Australia to Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta as senior managing counsel and in December 2013 was promoted to international GC for Asia Pacific Group and GC for Japan and was based in Tokyo until he returned to the U.S. in 2016.
Haig and his “amazingly supportive” wife—also a native of Adelaide who has “been on this journey with me” and whom Haig credits for the success of his international career—have four children, two born in Sydney, one in London and another in Atlanta.
“In 2013, we all moved to Tokyo, and the kids really are international citizens, which we think is fantastic,” Haig said. “I could never have planned out the career I have had. It’s been the most amazing journey, and I’ve always been open to all sorts of opportunities as they’ve come along.”
Since 2012, Haig has served as a member of the board of trustees of The Howard School, which his two older children attend. He also is on the board of the International Dyslexia Association.
“One of the driving factors to come back to Atlanta was the Howard School for the older kids and Trinity School for the younger ones,” he said.
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Bonus: Favorite Things About Atlanta
“It’s an extremely livable, family-oriented city,” Haig said, adding that he and his wife observed that, if Sydney is like New York, then Atlanta is similar to their hometown of Adelaide. “It’s a really great place to bring up a family. The schools here are exceptional, and the educational standards are amazing.”
Haig said he also is impressed by the number of great companies that are headquartered in Atlanta—“not just the old ones but the new ones as well. It’s a growing center.”