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Heineken Hire Prompts New Legal Chiefs for Red Bull, Soccer Team

Jan. 27, 2020, 9:55 PM

Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls has appointed Kari Cohen as general counsel, filling a slot previously held by Djenaba Parker, who has been promoted to senior vice president and general counsel of beverage company Red Bull North America Inc.

Parker replaced Jorge Carlos Kuri, who left Red Bull North America in December to become senior vice president and chief legal officer at Heineken USA Inc., according to his LinkedIn profile. This is the second time that Parker, who joined the U.S. arm of the Austria-based energy drink giant in 2012, has filled a job vacated by Kuri.

Parker became general counsel of the Red Bulls, an MLS franchise it sponsors that plays its home games at the 25,000-seat Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., when Kuri, a former general counsel of the team, was elevated to legal chief of Red Bull North America.

In an email, Parker confirmed to Bloomberg Law that the Red Bulls hired Cohen to replace her after she succeeded Kuri in the top legal role at Red Bull North America, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif.

The new position sees Parker, a former associate at the law firms Mayer Brown and now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf, assume leadership of a legal, risk management, and business affairs team within the North American subsidiary of Red Bull GmbH.

Kuri to Heineken

Kuri did not immediately respond to requests for comment about his move to Heineken USA Inc., which is based in White Plains, N.Y., and serves as the North American arm of Amsterdam-based Heineken NV.

Heineken USA has yet to officially announce Kuri’s hire. The company’s website states “to be announced” for its vacant chief legal officer position, previously held by Julie Kinch until June 2019.

Kinch, a former senior associate at White & Case and general counsel for the U.S. import affiliate of French cognac company Rémy Martin, was hired by the Dutch beer giant as its first North American general counsel in 1998. At the time of Kinch’s exit last summer, Heineken issued a statement praising her “far reaching” legacy in building out its U.S. legal group.

Cohen’s Connections

The recent moves of Kuri and Parker created an opening in the Red Bulls’ general counsel role.

Cohen, whose hire to fill that position was announced Monday, most recently served as a vice president and deputy general counsel for Brooklyn, N.Y.-based BSE Global, the parent company of the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets and their home arena, the 17,500-seat Barclays Center.

In late 2019, former Sullivan & Cromwell associate Joseph Tsai, now a co-founder and vice chairman of Chinese e-commerce and technology company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., completed his $2.35 billion acquisition of a controlling stake in the Nets and Barclays Center from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Cohen, a former associate at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, joined BSE Global in 2011.

During her nearly decade-long stint with the then Prokhorov-owned sports and entertainment company, Cohen handled negotiations and agreements related to suite licenses, ticketing, vendors, and naming rights and sponsorships, as well as external affairs and governmental relations for BSE Global, according to a statement issued by the Red Bulls touting her hire.

“We are fortunate to have Kari join our club’s executive leadership team,” said a statement from Red Bulls general manager Marc de Grandpre. “Her extensive legal and business experience will be invaluable in furthering our significant growth across all facets of our organization.”

Cohen did not respond to a request for comment.

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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