21 April 2021

Around the house: GCs arrive at Commonwealth and Passport

Round-up of in-house moves also sees Allianz Australia name a new GC and Finnish energy company Fortum promote one of its own

By Victoria Basham

Commonwealth's GC and SVP Peggy Ho and Passport's GC Chris Matton Images courtesy of Commonwealth Financial Network and Passport

LPL Financial veteran for Commonwealth

Peggy Ho is set to join investment adviser and independent broker/dealer Commonwealth Financial Network as senior vice president and general counsel.

Ho will oversee all legal and regulatory aspects of the firm, including advising the executive management team on strategic initiatives and regulatory issues and providing counsel on all legal-related issues within the investment adviser and broker/dealer entities. She will replace outgoing general counsel Jim Adelman, who is slated to retire after nearly 17 years with the firm, and will work from its Waltham, Massachusetts headquarters.

Ho will report to Commonwealth president and COO Trap Kloman, who commented: “Peggy joins us with a wealth of experience that includes compliance, legal, risk management, and government advocacy. In the ever-evolving regulatory landscape in our industry, we will rely heavily on her knowledge and insights to move our firm forward."

Ho began her career as a corporate associate at Ropes & Gray and later performed a number of roles over 14 years at LPL Financial, most recently as EVP, chief of staff for compliance, legal, and risk and head of government relations. She also serves on the boards The New England Council, the Greater Boston Legal Services, and the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts. 

Former Bandwidth GC shifts to Passport

Chris Matton is joining transportation software and payments company Passport as general counsel. He will oversee all legal operations in his new role and support the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company's efforts to expand to more cities across North America and develop its partner ecosystem, which includes a partnership with Google Maps.

Matton joins the Passport after a near eleven-year tenure as GC at cloud communications company Bandwidth that saw him help to scale the company internationally and oversee an IPO, which Passport listed as a requirement when advertising for the position. Prior to Bandwidth, he was a partner at the law firm Kilpatrick Stockton (now Kilpatrick Townsend), where he represented companies in the software, telecommunications and life sciences industries.

A statement from Passport described Matton’s hire as a strategic decision in planning for the company’s future, with CEO David Evans highlighting Matton’s “wealth of experience helping high growth companies scale rapidly while successfully navigating legal and policy issues." 

M&A experience for Cornerstone growth strategy

NYSE-listed Cornerstone Building Brands has appointed Alena Brenner as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, effective 5 April. She has replaced Todd Moore, who served in the role for more than 22 years.

She is responsible for the legal, compliance and risk-management functions at the Cary, North Carolina-based company, which describes itself as the largest manufacturer of exterior building products in North America, and reports directly to CEO James Metcalf.

Brenner has joined Cornerstone from a nine-year stint at logistics company Ryder System, where she was VP and deputy GC. Prior to that, she was director of legal affairs - M&A, capital markets and commercial at Anheuser-Busch InBev and also spent nine years at the New York office of Hunton & Williams.

Metcalf commented that Brenner’s “customer centric approach, along with the desire to simplify the way we do business, is aligned with our commitment to be a partner of choice and her proven experience in mergers and acquisitions will be critical to support our long-term growth strategy.”

JLL veteran for Cresa

Washington DC-headquartered real estate firm Cresa has found a new general counsel and chief human resources officer in the form of Kathryn Ditmars. She will be based in the firm’s Chicago office and lead talent and risk management strategies to support the firm’s growth.

She joins Cresa from commercial real estate company JLL, where she was most recently managing director – Americas but over the course of 20 years with the company has served in a variety of legal and business roles including Americas general counsel, global litigation director and chief counsel for Latin America.

Prior to JLL, she served as a litigation attorney with a focus on employment counselling in the Chicago offices of McDermott, Will & Emery and Jackson Lewis Schnitzler & Krupman.

Bristol Myers Squibb adds to Innovation Law Group

Gloria Fuentes has joined NYSE-listed Bristol Myers Squibb as vice president and assistant general counsel in its Innovation Law Group, working from its New York headquarters.

She joins the pharmaceutical company directly after 13 years at German science and technology multinational Merck. There she served a number of functions including legal director, patents and executive director, corporate transactions but most recently as associate VP and group managing counsel.

The Columbia Law School graduate began her career at Fish and Neave, where her practice focused on patent litigation, before joining Am Law 100 firm Ropes & Gray as an associate. As well as her JD, Fuentes has a BS in microbiology from Cornell and a PhD in microbiology and biochemistry.

Celcius brings Paul Weiss Rifkind counsel on board

Crypto rewards-earning platform Celcius has expanded its executive team with the addition of Ron Deutsch as GC and head of M&A in New York. 

Celcius CEO Alex Mashinksty described Deutsch as having the “perfect combination” of legal and business skill and knowledge of the crypto industry.  

Deutsch began his career at leading Israeli commercial law firm Yehuda Raveh & Co and later practised at Am Law 100 firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Davis Polk. Directly before joining Celcius, he had a four year stint as counsel at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison.  His practice has focused on corporate transactions, representing private and public companies, and private investment funds and their portfolio companies in complex deals, including M&A, leveraged buyouts, and joint ventures.

Deutsch will lead the legal, regulatory and corporate governance functions in his new role and spearhead the negotiations and management of strategic transactions and investments for the company.

Pirum finds first GC

London-based financial services technology vendor Pirum has found its first general counsel in Eva Luterkort, who has joined the 100-strong company directly from Goldman Sachs’ London Office where she was executive director and senior counsel.

Her areas of practice include prime brokerage, securities lending, agency lending, STIR and balance sheet/collateral management. She was also lead in regulatory matters (incl. SFTR and CSDR) and Brexit planning/implementation.

Luterkort qualified at Linklaters, where she specialised in capital markets, investment management and banking including two secondments at Nomura and Lehman Brothers.

Allianz Australia enlists ANZ GC

Jodi Fullarton-Healey has begun her new role at Allianz Australia as general counsel and chief general manager, corporate governance. Working from the firm’s Melbourne office, she has taken over from Caroline Chambers, who had served as acting group general counsel for the previous 18 months.  

Fullarton-Healey has joined the financial services giant from ANZ, where for 13 years she served in general counsel roles for institutional banking. She was responsible for legal services provided to the institutional business globally and led a team of roughly 100 lawyers.

Prior to ANZ, Fullarton-Healey worked at law firm Blake Dawson (now Ashurst) for 18 years, the last 11 as a partner, working primarily in the areas of corporate, structured asset and project financing. Her time at the firm included a three-year stint in China establishing its Shanghai office.

Of the appointment, Allianz Australia MD Richard Feledy said: “Jodi’s experience supporting transforming financial service businesses, combined with her commercial acumen, will make her an excellent fit within our Australian senior management team.”

Fullarton-Healey added: “The ongoing regulatory changes in financial services are both a challenge and an opportunity, as we continue to evolve to meet customer and community needs. Allianz has responded swiftly in adapting to the landscape, and I look forward to working with the team to further uplift Allianz’s corporate governance and conduct.”

Fortum’s management shake-up

Finnish state-owned energy company Fortum has promoted its current VP, generation, legal to the GC role, effective 1 May. Nora Steiner-Forsberg has spent the previous decade at Fortum, having joined in 2011 as legal counsel and later serving as head of generation, legal. Prior to that, she spent four years as an associate at Nordic firm Hannes Snellman and another four years as a senior associate in the Brussels office of Van Bael & Bellis.  

In her new role, Steiner-Forsberg will succeed Sirpa-Helena Sormunen, who has been appointed as Fortum subsidiary Uniper’s new GC and chief compliance officer. Fortum acquired a majority stake in the Dusseldorf-based energy company last year for $2.6bn and the new roles for Steiner-Forsberg and Sormunen are part of a wider management shake-up at both companies intended to “leverage existing experience and expertise more widely and to develop a joint culture.”

Going forward, my ambition is that the leadership teams would work in a more integrated way to ensure efficient decision-making in both companies and faster value creation across the Group,” said Markus Rauramo, president and CEO of Fortum.

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