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Bombardier Switches Out Top Lawyer Ahead of Alstom Rail Sale

Dec. 4, 2020, 3:13 PM

Bombardier Inc., a transportation conglomerate streamlining itself into an enterprise with an aerospace focus, is parting ways with a legal chief it hired last year.

The Canadian company announced Dec. 3 its hire of former Stornoway Diamond Corp. legal and financial affairs executive Anna Torkia Lagacé as general counsel.

Bombardier CEO Éric Martel in a statement cited Lagacé’s corporate governance, compliance, securities law, and strategic transactional expertise.

Lagacé, a former lawyer at leading Canadian law firms Blake, Cassels & Graydon and Stikeman Elliott, will take over immediately from Steeve Robitaille as he transitions to senior vice president of strategic projects at Bombardier.

Robitaille, a former senior partner at Stikeman, spent two years as chief legal officer for consultancy WSP au Canada prior to joining Bombardier as its top lawyer and corporate secretary in March 2019.

Bombardier said Robitaille will exit the company after overseeing the completion of the $7.3 billion sale of its rail unit to France’s Alstom SA. The deal, announced in February, overcame regulatory wrangling in Europe before getting approved in July.

Alstom had previously agreed to merge with Germany’s Siemens AG but that deal collapsed last year in the face of antitrust concerns. The French company’s purchase of Bombardier’s rail business is now expected to close in early 2021 after Alstom and Bombardier agreed upon a $350 million price cut.

Montreal-based Bombardier has been looking to unload assets in order to offset its costly expansion into the aerospace industry.

In March, Bombardier’s former CEO Alain Bellemare, hired five years ago by the company’s founding family, stepped down and was succeeded by Martel.

It was under Bellemare’s leadership that Bombardier hired Robitaille last year to succeed former general counsel Daniel Desjardins as he was named chairman of the board of directors for Bombardier’s transportation business.

Martel praised Robitaille in a statement for “his many contributions to Bombardier, including the critical role he played in our strategic repositioning.”

He also credited Robitaille for spearheading the Alstom negotiations, handling the $550 million sale of Bombardier’s regional aircraft business to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., and the $275 million sale of its aerostructures unit to Spirit AeroSystems Holding Inc., a deal finalized at reduced terms in October.

New Era

Lagacé, Bombardier’s new top lawyer, left Stornoway in June as the insolvent Canadian mining company prepared to be acquired by Montreal-based Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd.

Bloomberg News reported last year on the financial struggles facing Canadian diamond miners like Stornoway, which hired Lagacé in 2014 from Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., where she spent three years as a senior legal counsel.

A Bombardier spokeswoman told Bloomberg Law that its law department leadership change had nothing to do with a bribery investigation disclosed by U.K. authorities last month involving Bombardier’s dealings with an Indonesian company.

The allegations in that probe predate Bombardier’s current management.

In the U.S., Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman have handled more than 33% of Bombardier’s federal litigation work within the past five years, according to Bloomberg Law data.

Bombardier has also paid $200,000 through the first three quarters of this year to Covington & Burling for the firm to lobby on aerospace policy and budgetary matters, federal government appropriations, the National Defense Authorization Act, and the procurement of aircraft platforms, per U.S. Senate records.

Jones Day and Norton Rose Fulbright are counseling Bombardier on the sale of its rail business to Alstom, which is being represented by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Canada’s Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg.

Canadian pension giant Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a shareholder in Bombardier’s transportation unit that recently hired its own new top lawyer, is being advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Canada’s McCarthy Tétrault.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com