Axa general counsel defects to Danone

Christianne Butte, the general counsel of Axa, has resigned after 13 years in the job to take the same role at food and drinks company Groupe Danone.

Butte led a hugely respected corporate team, which has helped Axa through many mergers and acquisitions. She will be replaced by her deputy George Stansfield.

Butte replaces Luc Delaby at Danone, who has departed to launch his own consultancy. Danone is beefing up its legal team and is also looking for its first UK in-house lawyer.

Stansfield worked at Equitable Life (now Axa Financial) in New York before Axa took control of the company. He transferred to Paris in 1996, when Axa listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The team he inherits is small, considering the size of the company, and focuses on mergers and acquisitions, finance and company law.

The company has a close relationship with Cravath Swaine & Moore in the US. It also uses LeBouef Lamb Greene & MacRae and Debevoise & Plimpton. The legal team does much of its French work in-house, but has instructed Bredin Prat, Clifford Chance, Gide Loyrette Nouel and Shearman & Sterling. Norton Rose advises Axa on many UK and Asian issues.