Harmony considers riposte as Hogan deflects Gold Fields claim

Tempers were frayed in a New York court room last week as South African mining company Harmony deflected litigation aimed at derailing its hostile bid for rival mining company Gold Fields.

Harmony and its lawyers Hogan & Hartson and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett are now considering further action against Gold Fields’ lawyers Linklaters and Skadden Arps Slate Meager & Flom for what they see as frivolous litigation.

Steve Robinson, Hogan & Hartson’s lead partner on the deal, told The Lawyer: “My client will have to decide what further action to take. He [Harmony chief executive Bernard Swanepoel] feels that these guys are wasting his time. They believe in their deal. It’s enormously frustrating to spend all this time in litigation rather than talking to investors.”

Robinson’s fellow partner David Wertheimer was less diplomatic in a letter to the court. “Harmony reserves its right to seek appropriate sanctions with respect to plaintiff’s unreasonable and vexatious conduct,” he wrote.

Gold Fields’ defence looks to be dead in the water following court defeats in South Africa and the US District Court of the Southern District of New York.

Linklaters and Skadden had not filed an appeal with the emergency panel at the second circuit before the Thanksgiving public holiday last Thursday (25 November). The deal was due to close on Friday.