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Cisco Systems Recruits Morgan Lewis Partner Hwang as Head of M&A

Feb. 25, 2022, 6:40 PM

Cisco Systems Inc. has hired Eric Hwang, a former in-house lawyer at Oracle Corp., to serve as its head of mergers and acquisitions and investments legal.

Hwang joined the San Jose, Calif.-based company at the end of January, Robyn Blum, a Cisco spokeswoman, confirmed. Hwang will be responsible for running merger deals and investments and work with a Cisco team led by its vice president of corporate securities and acquisitions, she said.

He was most recently a corporate partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif. He joined the law firm in 2018 after spending a little over two years as a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

Hwang joined Cisco as it mulled a $20 billion takeover of software company Splunk Inc., a potential tie-up that would have been the technology conglomerate’s second-largest deal ever, before talks were tabled this month, according to Bloomberg News.

Cisco, which is trying to shake off a $1.9 billion patent infringement verdict, is the world’s largest maker of computer networking equipment, per Bloomberg News.

Hwang, who began his legal career as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, didn’t respond to a request for comment about his move to Cisco.

He joined WilmerHale in 2016 from White & Case, a firm Hwang made the move to in 2012 following a more than five-year stint at Oracle.

During his time at Oracle, Hwang served as a senior corporate counsel for acquisitions and director of corporate development. He helped the software giant build out an in-house M&A and infrastructure team.

Hwang, who played a key role in Oracle’s $7.4 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems Inc., has cited his in-house experience as being a benefit in private practice.

“We are able to give clients more practical, more timely and relevant advice, just because we have been in those roles,” Hwang told California legal industry publication The Recorder in 2018.

In a statement posted to LinkedIn, Hwang said after an “incredible nine-year adventure in private practice,” he made the career decision to return in-house.

“It will be my privilege to lead this team to help advance Cisco’s strategic growth strategy and build on its track record of excellence in technology deal-making,” Hwang said.

Cisco’s chief legal officer, Deborah “Dev” Stahlkopf, who was hired last summer from Microsoft Corp., didn’t respond to a request for comment about Hwang.

Stahlkopf, who spent 14 years at Microsoft and was one of the top in-house legal appointments of 2021, currently owns roughly $5.8 million in Cisco stock, according to Bloomberg Law data.

Stahlkopf succeeded Cisco’s longtime legal chief Mark Chandler, who retired last year after 25 years at the company. Cisco disclosed in its most recent proxy statement filed in October that Chandler received nearly $5.8 million in total compensation during 2021, a sum that included $100,000 for legal consulting work.

Chandler has subsequently gone on to teach an access to justice policy lab at Stanford Law School. He is working with the Georgetown University Law Center and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on projects related to the internet, national security, and technology, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com