Around the house: All Africa Capital hires first GC, Buffalo Bills end hunt for new legal chief

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at Novavax, AIMCo, Sempra and Modine

Africa-focused banking startup hires first GC

UK banking startup All Africa Capital has hired Lesley Wan as general counsel as the company seeks to strengthen its executive team to support its application to secure a banking licence.

Wan brings with her almost three decades of legal experience, most recently serving as GC at FBN UK, the UK arm of First Bank of Nigeria. At All Africa Capital, Wan will use her UK banking experience to provide legal and regulatory guidance to steer the bank’s development.

Jason Oakley, CEO of All Africa Capital, said: “We are delighted to have Lesley join our team. Her experience aligns perfectly with our mission as we look to build our proposition and become an authorised bank.”

Prior to her five year spell at FBN, Wan spent 11 years as corporate counsel at Lloyds Banking Group and just over a year as a senior solicitor at German local state bank Bayerische Landesbank. Before her in-house career, Wan had spells in private practice at Allen & Overy, Norton Rose Fulbright and Russell McVeagh, where she started her career in 1994 in the firm’s Auckland office.

Katrina Arnold, All Africa Capital’s chair, said: “Lesley’s appointment reflects our desire to bring in top talent that understands the distinct requirements and values of our African customers.”

Wan is also a renowned diversity champion and is a judge for Global Legal Post’s Women and Diversity in Law Awards, which take place in March next year

All Africa Capital is owned by WAICA RE Insurance. It is seeking to build a bank that will help deepen economic and business ties between Africa and the UK.

Buffalo Bills name permanent CLO after GC firing

US American football team Buffalo Bills have appointed private practice veteran Terry Gilbride as its new chief legal officer, following the dismissal of former general counsel Kathryn D’Angelo in October.

Gilbride joins from US firm Hodgson Russ, where he was a partner based in the firm’s Buffalo office. Gilbride has extensive commercial real estate project development experience and Hodgson Russ has worked on Bills-related projects in the past. At the Bills, Gilbride will be responsible for all legal matters.

D’Angelo was let go by the Bills in October for having a ‘professionally unethical’ romantic relationship with chief operating officer John Roth. She had only been promoted to GC in April, having previously been assistant GC. Roth was also dismissed by the Bills’ billionaire owner Terry Pegula.

Long-time Bills football operations advisor Jim Overdorf had stepped in as interim GC.

The off-field drama has been matched by their patchy performances on the field – they go into the final stretch of the regular season with six wins and six losses, leaving the team second in the AFC East.  

Covid vaccine-innovator names replacement for outgoing CLO

US Covid-19 vaccine developer Novavax has appointed Mark Casey as chief legal officer, replacing John Herrmann who is retiring from the role in December.

Casey joins from Bryn Pharma, where he had been CLO since August. He takes over at Novavax as the company seeks to advance protein-based vaccines, where he will be responsible for all legal and compliance matters.

John Jacobs, president and CEO of Novavax, said: “As chief legal officer for nearly 14 years, John Herrmann helped transition Novavax from a clinical development organisation to a global commercial vaccine company during a worldwide pandemic. We are incredibly grateful for his leadership, and I am delighted that John has agreed to serve as an advisor to me and the company for the next year.”

He added: “His successor, Mark Casey, brings more than 30 years of experience to Novavax, and we look forward to the next chapter with him at the helm of our legal team.”

Prior to his brief spell at Bryn Pharama, Casey spent just under five years at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, three of them as CLO. He also spent just under three years as general counsel at Idera Pharmaceuticals and almost 13 years at US medical equipment manufacturer Hologic, more than half of that time as GC. Before that he was a senior patent counsel at Boston Scientific and a patent counsel at EMC.

Herrmann steps down after almost 14 years at Novavax, joining as GC before becoming CLO in 2020. He previously held in-house roles at Ore Pharmaceuticals (as GC), Gene Logic (as deputy GC) and Celera Genomics and Baxter Healthcare (as a senior counsel).

Canadian investment manager appoints CLO

Canadian institutional fund manger Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) has hired Shelley Nixon as its new chief legal officer.

Nixon joins from Australian global engineering business Ausenco, where most recently she served as president of global consulting. She will join AIMCo at the end of January, and will be responsible for advancing the company’s legal, compliance and governance function, working closely with its executive leadership team.

Evan Siddall, CEO of AIMCo, said: “Shelley brings significant experience as a chief legal officer, leader and change agent to AIMCo. Her experience over her more than two-decade long career thus far – especially critical in-house counsel roles she played at both Ausenco Engineering and Petro-Canada – make her a strategic hire for AIMCo and an important addition to our leadership team.”

Nixon had been at Ausenco in Canada since 2012, holding a number of roles. She also spent four years as legal counsel at CEDA International and another four years at Petro-Canada, having started her career in private practice as an associate at Bennett Jones.

She will replace Rod Girard, who has held the position for close to 13 years. He was previously a senior counsel at North American water utility EPCOR, having started out in private practice at firms including Davis (now part of DLA Piper), Bennett Jones and legacy firm Macleod Dixon (which merged with Norton Rose Fulbright).

AIMCo is one of Canada’s largest institutional investment managers, with around $164bn of assets under management, including for the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund.

Sempra promotes deputy GC to top legal role

US energy infrastructure business Sempra has promoted deputy general counsel Diana Day to chief legal officer as part of a broader shake up of its management team.

Day has been with Sempra since October last year, joining from San Diego Gas & Electric, where she spent the last three years of her time there as GC and chief risk officer. At Sempra she will take on responsibility for all the company’s legal and governance affairs. 

Day spent more than 22 years with San Diego Gas & Electric across a number of legal roles. She started her career in private practice at Latham & Watkins back in 1991.

She will take on the role from 1 January and report to CEO and chairman Jeffrey Martin, who said the leadership changes will “better position us to execute our strategic priorities”.

US car radiator-maker hires new GC

US thermal engineering company Modine has appointed Erin Roth as general counsel.

Roth brings with her more than two decades of legal experience, most recently as GC at US infrastructure construction company Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives (IEA), which she left in May. At Modine, she will provide legal advice to the company’s executive team and board, while leading its global legal and compliance functions.

Neil Brinker, Modine’s president and CEO, said: “Erin’s career reflects a strong track record as a strategic leader of successful, large-scale transformation initiatives, business operations, M&A and integration that will help Modine continue to execute on our global business strategies.”

Prior to her two-year spell at IEA, Roth spent more than three years as GC at Strada Education Network and almost 11 years at Wabash National Corporation, roughly eight of them as GC. She also spent eight years in private practice at Barnes & Thornburg.

Modine manufactures heating and cooling systems for the automotive industry, with customers including Caterpillar, Daimler Truck and Deere and Co.

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