Steve M. Cohen, former secretary to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is starting his own firm after nearly a decade as general counsel at MacAndrews & Forbes Inc, the New York-based holding company owned by billionaire banker Ron Perelman.
“Steve has been a valued member of the Office of Chairman as General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer for eight years. During that time, Steve established a great team and we agreed this is the right time to ‘pass the torch,’” said MacAndrews & Forbes spokesperson Josh Vlasto in an email to Bloomberg Law.
Vlasto confirmed that Cohen left MacAndrews & Forbes last week. Cohen’s new firm will provide legal and consulting services and its first client will be MacAndrews & Forbes, according to Vlasto. MacAndrews & Forbes’ current portfolio includes major companies like Revlon, AM General, and vTv Therapeutics.
Fran Townsend, MacAndrews & Forbes’ former executive vice president, will replace Cohen as the company’s general counsel and chief administrative officer, Vlasto said. Townsend has previously worked as Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush and as a partner at Baker Botts.
Cohen’s former deputy general counsel Michael Bosworth also left MacAndrews & Forbes in July and now works as a partner at Latham & Watkins in New York.
Cohen has served as an advisor to Cuomo dating back to the governor’s time as attorney general in New York.
Before joining MacAndrews & Forbes in 2013, Cohen was counselor and chief of staff to the attorney general from 2007 to 2010 and later secretary to the governor, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic hit New York City in March, Cuomo tapped Cohen, to reprise his public sector role and develop a strategy to help the state’s economy reopen and recover. Cohen, who has appeared alongside Cuomo for at least one of his daily coronavirus press briefings, was selected to work on the reopening along with fellow former Cuomo secretaries Bill Mulrow, who is now at the Blackstone Group Inc, and Larry Schwartz.
Cohen has a Big Law background, and worked for Cooley and Zuckerman Spaeder earlier in his career. He also sits on the boards of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center.