Gallaher legal head knocks back post-takeover legal role

Gallaher’s group head of legal is leaving after the £7.5bn takeover of the company by Japan Tobacco.

Suzanne Wise has decided to leave Gallaher, the maker of Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges cigarettes, at the end of this year after seven years of service, despite Japan Tobacco offering her a position in Geneva, where the tobacco manufacturer’s headquarters outside Japan will be situated post-combination.

Wise is yet to decide on her next move.

Japan Tobacco’s head of legal affairs Paul Bourassa will lead the combined company’s legal team.

Wise’s team currently houses seven lawyers, with three trademark specialists. There are another 30 overseas Gallaher lawyers. The in-house team of the combined company will boast significantly more than that, although details are still unclear.

The UK legal department will be sized down as it will merely serve the combined company’s UK and Eire operations.

It is also understood that Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer will become the go-to law firm for the new company. Freshfields has long been Japan Tobacco’s preferred adviser and corporate partner Martin Nelson-Jones led a team on the takeover.

Slaughter and May advised Gallaher on the merger. Wise first went to the firm in 2002 following a panel review, which saw Simmons & Simmons having to share its coveted role as the company’s main adviser.