Around the house: legal leaders arrive at Rio Tinto and TikTok

This week's crop of top in-house hires also sees Ofgem, FalconX and Sinagporean VC fund Tanglin Venture Partners name new GCs

Rio Tinto's new CLO Isabelle Deschamps Image courtesy of Rio Tinto

Incoming legal eagle for Rio Tinto

Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has appointed Isabelle Deschamps to succeed Barbara Levi as chief legal officer and external affairs. Isabelle, who is currently general counsel of AkzoNobel, will join Rio Tinto in October.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said "Isabelle brings a wealth and diversity of legal experience having worked in various senior legal roles for a number of large multinational companies. I am delighted to welcome her to Rio Tinto and look forward to having her join the executive team and lead our legal, compliance and external affairs teams.”

Deschamps has more than 20 years’ experience in various senior legal roles across Europe and Canada. She joined AkzoNobel in 2018 as group general counsel and is responsible for all legal, integrity and compliance and intellectual property management, as well as company secretary.

Before that, Deschamps had a six-year stint at Unilever in the UK and in The Netherlands where she had accountability for legal and compliance for its European businesses and also spent 16 years at Nestlé, where held various positions in Switzerland and globally. Earlier she was in private practice at Canadian law firm Hudon Gendron Harris Thomas in Montreal.

Microsoft veteran for TikTok

TikTok, the social media site owned by China’s ByteDance and one of the most valuable startups in the world, has added longtime Microsoft lawyer Matthew Penarczyk in Seattle as its head of legal for the Americas.

Penarczyk’s new role has seen him reunited with fellow Microsoft alum Erich Andersen, who was hired by TikTok at the start of last year as global general counsel and head of corporate affairs. TikTok’s legal department has been busily adding lawyers and policy specialists under Andersen after the company came under scrutiny from US regulators over its data gathering policies. Among those to come on board are Emily Stubbs, who joined last year from Viacom as global head of litigation, and senior patent counsel Alexander Chen, who joined from a role as associate general counsel, patents at Facebook.

Penarczyk joined Microsoft in 2002 from Holland & Knight and over the next two decades served in various senior legal roles, including associate general counsel for the tech giant’s intellectual property group. He most recently led Microsoft’s 85-strong compliance and ethics organisation as vice president and deputy general counsel, compliance and ethics.

His practice at Holland & Knight focused on advising tech companies on matters including, M&A, equity and debt financings, software licensing, technology licensing, IP protection, equity compensation and entity formation. He began his career as a tax consultant in the Boston office of accountancy firm Arthur Andersen.

Government veteran for Ofgem  

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the UK’s government regulator for the electricity and natural gas markets, has named Sinead Murray as its new general counsel.  

London-based Murray boasts extensive legal and government experience and will join Ofgem later this summer from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, where she has served as legal director, leading on energy and science. Prior to that she spent 13 years in various senior legal roles at HM Revenue & Customers, finally serving as director of personal tax. Earlier she worked as a senior lawyer at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and led on legal advice for London’s successful Olympic bid.  

Murray is set to take over from interim general counsel Jonathan Spence, a former Herbert Smith Freehills lawyer who joined Ofgem in 2014. He stepped into the role in March shortly before Euan McVicar left the top legal spot at the regulator to be a non-executive director at the Crown Estate Scotland.  

First general counsel for Ennis

Listed Texan print manufacturer Ennis has added Dan Gus as its first general counsel and assistant secretary.

Keith Walters, chairman, president and CEO Gus “broad background in law and the business world will add depth to the company’s management team.”

Gus specialises in commercial litigation, insurance coverage counselling and litigation, appellate litigation and real estate, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is a member of the Texas Bar Association and is admitted to practice in front of the US District Court for the Northern & Eastern Districts of Texas as well as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gus has joined Ennis from Gus & Gilbert Law Firm, which he founded in 2012 and of which he was managing partner. Prior to that, he had a seven-year stint as a partner at Dallas-based law firm Walker Sewell, served as legal counsel and controller at hedge fund firm Q Investments and was an associate at legacy firm Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell.  

TreeHouse move

Kristy Waterman has joined listed Illinois-based food and drink manufacturer TreeHouse Foods as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Waterman is responsible for the company’s legal, compliance and ethics organisation and will also serve as corporate secretary, reporting directly to CEO and president Steve Oakland.

Oakland described Waterman as a “results-driven leader and brings a wealth of experience across securities, capital markets and mergers and acquisitions.” He also thanked her predecessor Tom O’Neill, who he described as a “developing a first-class food safety, regulatory and compliance culture” and “responsible for establishing our code of ethics, both of which now serve as foundational elements of our company."

O'Neill has become a consultant focused on the Treehouse’s ongoing litigation with Keurig Green Mountain and is also working to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities to Waterman.

Waterman most recently served as senior vice president, strategy and chief administrative officer of DFA Dairy Brands, the division of Dairy Farmers of America that acquired a substantial portion of Dean Foods Company last year. Before that, she was SVP, GC, corporate secretary and government affairs of Dean Foods Company and had responsibility for all legal and regulatory matters. She joined Dean Foods in 2014 and held positions of increasing responsibility within the legal department.

Waterman began her career in the Dallas offices of Gardere Wynne Sewell and Norton Rose Fulbright, where she practiced general and corporate law, with a focus on M&A, transactions, securities, corporate governance and reporting and filing obligations.

FalconX names first GC

Cryptocurrency trading platform FalconX, which was valued at $675m earlier in the year, has added James Morgan as its very first general counsel.

Morgan has joined the business from the GC role at BitGo, a digital asset trust and security company based in Palo Alto that announced in May it was being bought by Galaxy Digital for $1.2bn. Prior to that he had a brief stint as GC at SecondMarket, where he led the legal and regulatory effort to relaunch its digital currency trading division as Genesis Trading, a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group. He then spent just over four years as general counsel and CCO at Genesis before joining BitGo in 2019.  

Earlier in his career he worked at Miami International Holdings and stock exchange operators NYSE Euronext, where he was handled regulatory matters and market compliance. According to his LinkedIn profile, he began his career doing salary arbitration work in Major League Baseball, which included assisting the GC for various teams.

Khaitan partner for Singapore VC fund

Khaitan & Co partner Arun Scaria has left the firm’s Bangalore office for the GC role at Tanglin Venture Partners in Singapore.

Tanglin is an early-stage venture capital firm targeting startups in the SaaS, fintech, consumer tech and B2B commerce spaces in India and Southeast Asia. The company ranks Moglix, Plum and Ninjacart among its portfolio and according to DealStreetAsia is targeting the final close of its second fund at more than $100m by the end of Q3 this year.

Scaria began his career in 2009 as a senior associate at Nishith Desai Associates and joined Khaitan in 2017, becoming partner a year later. His exit follows shortly after Khaitan boosted its presence in South India with the acquisition of boutique firm Assentio Legal, which has offices in Chennai and Bengaluru. 


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