Around the house: Microsoft announces legal leadership change, Hilton names former Molson Coors CLO as GC

This week’s roundup of top in-house moves also includes appointments at Disney Parks, Alcoa, Webster Financial Corporation and Cogeco

Microsoft names Hossein Nowbar as CLO Shutterstock

Microsoft promotes legal team after CLO departure

Global software giant Microsoft has promoted Hossein Nowbar to chief legal officer, replacing Lisa Tanzi, who announced her departure from the tech company earlier this month.

Nowbar is elevated from general counsel, with former deputy GC and head of litigation Jonathan Palmer moved up to the GC role, Bloomberg reported. Cynthia Randall will take over Palmer’s previous role.

Microsoft’s legal department has been busy trying to secure regulatory approval for its blockbuster $75bn acquisition of video games company Activision Blizzard. The US Federal Trade Commission withdrew its opposition to the merger earlier this year, while the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority announced on Friday (22 September) that it had given the deal preliminary approval having originally blocked it over cloud gaming concerns. Microsoft recently restructured the deal to transfer cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard games to France's Ubisoft. 

Nowbar has been at the company for 26 years, first joining as an attorney and gradually working his way up to become associate GC in 2004, deputy GC in 2008 and then GC for corporate and legal affairs in 2021. Prior to joining Microsoft he worked in private practice at Davis Wright Tremaine.

Palmer has been with Microsoft for almost 14 years, joining in 2010 from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, where he was a partner. He became deputy GC in 2019, expanding the role to include head of litigation in 2020. Randall’s in-house career, meantime, has included stints at Verizon, CIGNA and Saul Ewing, before arriving at Microsoft in 2013 as an assistant GC. She started her career as a litigation associate at Dechert.

Tanzi is retiring from Microsoft after almost three decades with the company. She joined in 1995 from Perkins Coie as an attorney in its product development and marketing division, going on to work in a variety of in-house roles before being elevated to GC in 2021 and then CLO shortly after. She started her career as an associate at Shearman & Sterling, before moving to Dorsey & Whitney.

Hilton ends year-long search for replacement GC

Global hotel chain Hilton has appointed Anne-Marie D’Angelo as general counsel, replacing previous GC Kristin Campbell who retired earlier this month.

D’Angelo was previously chief legal and government affairs officer at beer giant Molson Coors Beverage Company, which she left in April due to personal reasons. At Hilton, she will sit on the executive committee and report to Hilton president and CEO Christopher Nassetta.

He said: “Anne-Marie is a recognised, respected leader with a proven track record that spans industries and complex matters, and I know she will offer outstanding strategic guidance and lead our legal function – and Hilton – with the highest level of integrity.”

Prior to joining Molson Coors, she had in-house roles at NiSource, Global Brass & Copper and McDonalds. She started her career in private practice at Burke Warren MacKay & Serritella.

D’Angelo said: “Hilton’s global presence and powerful franchise model has a positive impact on businesses and travellers around the world, and I look forward to helping strengthen Hilton’s already strong reputation.”

Campbell stepped down this month after 12 years at Hilton and more than 35 years in the legal profession, having joined the hotel chain from office supply company Staples. She had planned to retire at the end of last year, but stayed on to ensure a smooth transition while Hilton found her successor.

Walt Disney’s theme park business hires chief counsel

The Walt Disney Company has appointed Louise Pentland as chief counsel of its Disney Parks, Experiences and Products business.

Pentland started the role on September 15, having previously worked for global payments giant PayPal, where she was chief business affairs and legal officer. At Disney Parks, she will report to Walt Disney GC Horacio Gutierrez and provide strategic advice to Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro, as well as oversee all legal and regulatory matters for the business that spans theme parks, cruises and merchandise.

Disney this week said it was ploughing $60bn into its theme parks and cruises over the next decade, doubling what it has spent over the past 10 years.

Gutierrez said: “Louise Pentland is a highly accomplished legal executive with more than two decades of experience serving at the highest levels of global companies. Her expertise working with complex business, regulatory and compliance matters around the world and her track record as an exemplary leader make her a superb addition to the leadership team.”

Pentland has continued in two executive director roles at Hitachi and Pacific Life since leaving PayPal in July last year after seven years at the company. She was previously chief legal officer at Nokia and an in-house counsel at beauty products company Avon.

She said: “I’ve long admired Disney Parks’ reputation as a global leader in tourism and consumer products, along with its history of innovation and growth, and I’m looking forward to taking on this role and helping advance the organisation’s goals for the future.”

Aluminium giant fills vacant GC seat

Experienced metals and mining lawyer Andrew Hastings has joined global aluminium giant Alcoa as its new general counsel, according to Bloomberg, replacing Jeffrey Heeter who retired this month.

Hastings joins from Canadian base metals mining company Lundin Mining Corporation, where he was also GC. Prior to joining Lundin in 2019, Hastings spent 10 years at Barrick Gold Corporation and just over a year at Vale. He was previously an associate at Sidley Austin in New York.

Heeter announced his retirement plans earlier this year, according to a regulatory filing in April. He spent more than 25 years with the company in various senior in-house roles. He became executive vice president, GC and secretary in 2016. He started his legal career at legacy firm Doepken Keevican & Weiss in 1996 until joining Alcoa in 1998.

Alcoa is the world’s eighth largest aluminium producer and owns the world’s largest bauxite mine in Australia.

US regional bank snaps up experienced banking counsel

US banking group Webster Financial Corporation has named Kristy Berner as its general counsel, including GC for Webster Bank.

Berner joins from M&T Bank, where she was deputy GC. At Webster, she will be responsible for all of the group’s corporate legal services. Webster Bank is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut and has branches across the Northeast US including New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

John Ciulla, president and CEO of Webster Financial Corporation and CEO of Webster Bank, said: “Kristy is an experienced professional in financial services. As a member of the executive management team, we look forward to her leadership and guidance as part of our growth strategy.”

Prior to her time at M&T Bank, she was GC and corporate secretary at People’s United Bank and deputy GC at KeyBank. She also spent more than six years at First Niagara Bank, four of them as GC and corporate secretary. She started her career in private practice at AmLaw 200 firm Hodgson Russ, focusing on M&A, securities and corporate matters.

Internet business Cogeco names new CLO

North American telecoms business Cogeco has named Valéry Zamuner as its new chief corporate affairs and legal officer, replacing Christian Jolivet, who had been in the role since 2002.

Zamuner joins from convenience store chain Alimentation Couche-Tard and will be based in Cogeco’s Montreal head office. She will lead the company’s corporate affairs and legal, regulatory and government teams. Cogeco and its subsidiary Cogeco Commuications provides internet, video and phone services in Quebec, Ontario and 13 states in the US.

Philippe Jetté, president and CEO of Cogeco, said: “Valéry’s experience in leading large teams makes her the ideal candidate in helping us achieve our strategic objectives, while she will also play a key role in the priority projects that will shape the future of our company… Her disciplined approach, strategic sense and broad vision of the issues facing our industry will enable her, unquestionably, to support our ambitious growth plans.”

Prior to her four years as GC at Alimentation Couche-Tard, Zamuner was senior vice president for M&A and strategic initiatives at Canadian media business Stingray and CLO at consultancy firm WSP Global. She also had in-house roles at Mason Graphite, Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines and PSP Investments, having started her career in private practice at legacy Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain.

Jolivet leaves after 26 years at the company, having joined in 1997 as legal affairs director. He previously worked in private practice, specialising in communications law.

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