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Eli Lilly Grabs WellCare Health’s Legal Chief After Merger Close

Jan. 24, 2020, 10:52 PM

Eli Lilly & Co. has a new general counsel, thanks in part to a mega-merger between two health insurers.

Centene Corp. closed this week on its $17 billion acquisition of Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans Inc., leaving the target’s general counsel, Ana Hakim, looking for a new job.

Hakim, hired by WellCare as its in-house legal chief in 2016 after serving as an associate general counsel for litigation and divisional vice president at suburban Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories Inc., will relocate from Florida to Indianapolis in order to lead Eli Lilly’s law department starting Feb. 3.

The pharmaceutical company said in a statement today that Hakim will take over from Eli Lilly’s current general counsel Michael Harrington, who is retiring Jan. 31. Hakim said in a statement of her own that she is excited to return to the Midwest and join the senior executive team at Eli Lilly.

“Lilly’s focus on innovation, its promising pipeline of new medicines, and its desire to make medicines more affordable for patients make it the ideal place for me,” Hakim said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Hakim’s move to Eli Lilly was brokered by Jennifer Herrmann, head of the North American legal, compliance, and regulatory practice at Spencer Stuart, and David Love III, a Dallas-based consultant at the executive search firm. Her hire gives Eli Lilly a new law department leader at a time when the company has embarked on a rapid expansion by acquiring smaller pharmaceutical companies.

With the completion of WellCare’s sale now official, the law department that Hakim once led will now be helmed by Keith Williamson, general counsel of St. Louis-based Centene since 2006.

A proxy statement filed by WellCare last year shows that Hakim earned nearly $2 million in total compensation from the company in 2018. Bloomberg data shows she currently owns WellCare stock valued at $3.54 million.

Moving On

Harrington, Hakim’s predecessor at Eli Lilly, told Bloomberg Law in an email that he has no plans to take another job, having joined the company in 1991 and served as its general counsel since 2013 when he took over the legal group following the retirement of longtime legal chief Robert Armitage.

Instead, Harrington anticipates doing some philanthropic work, while serving on boards of directors. He is currently a member of the board for Elanco Animal Health Inc., a Greenfield, Ind.-based company that served as Eli Lilly’s animal health business until separating from its former parent last year.

Securities filings show that Elanco was advised by Barnes & Thornburg and Weil Gotshal & Manges on an initial public offering in late 2018 that raised $1.5 billion for the company and generated $4 million in legal fees and expenses for both law firms. Michael-Bryant Hicks serves as Elanco’s general counsel.

Weil and Barnes & Thornburg have also both done legal work for Eli Lilly. Weil took the lead for the company earlier this month on its $1.1 billion buy of skin-drug maker Dermira Inc. and previously advised Eli Lilly on its $8 billion acquisition of Loxo Oncology Inc. last year and $960 million purchase in 2017 of CoLucid Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Bloomberg data shows within the last five years, Eli Lilly’s go-to law firms for litigation work have been Adams and Reese, Sidley Austin, Reed Smith, Tucker Ellis, and Covington & Burling, the latter of which has also been a key courtroom counselor to Elanco.

As for Harrington, he owns Elanco stock currently valued at $395,000, which pales in comparison to the $15.2 million in Eli Lilly stock he also owns, according to Bloomberg data. Eli Lilly’s most recent proxy statement shows that Harrington took home $5.44 million in total compensation in 2018.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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