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Walton Family Eyed Cravath Partner Before Walmart Stock Sales

June 10, 2021, 10:20 PM

Cravath, Swaine & Moore trusts and estates partner Kenneth Halcom has left the Wall Street law firm to become president of a family trust linked to the Walton family.

Bloomberg News reported last year that the Waltons, heirs to the fortune generated by retail and e-commerce giant Walmart Inc., are the world’s richest family.

Cravath, which promoted Halcom to partner in late 2013, saw him exit earlier this year for Naples, Fla.-based family trust River Bend Holdings LLC. The trust is affiliated with Walton Enterprises LLC, the main investment vehicle for the Walton family, which last year transferred $48 billion in Walmart stock to the Walton Family Holdings Trust, an investment entity created in 2015.

It was the Walton Family Holdings Trust that unloaded roughly $750 million in Walmart stock in May through a series of sales disclosed by the Bentonville, Ark.-based company in securities filings. The divestitures were filed under the names S. Robson Walton, a lawyer and Walmart board member, and his siblings Alice Walton and Jim Walton, all of whom are children of the late Helen and Sam Walton.

Cravath and Halcom didn’t respond to requests for comment. Halcom’s LinkedIn profile, which initially revealed his move in-house at River Bend, was deleted in April, shortly after Bloomberg Law first contacted him and Cravath about his new role.

Halcom’s New York bar registry lists a Naples address for “RBH LLC” that is the same location for River Bend in Florida incorporation filings. A profile page for Halcom on the website of Christ Church Greenwich, where he is a senior warden and parishioner in Greenwich, Conn., states that Halcom left Cravath in March to become “president of a family trust company based in Naples, Florida.”

A pair of recent River Bend job listings refer to the company as part of Walton Enterprises. The listings for a director of tax and tax manager state that River Bend was “recently formed” for the “trust needs of a single, multi-generational family.”

The listings for both Naples-based jobs note that River Bend is a “trustee of a wide variety of trusts holding a wide variety of assets” with additional offices in Bentonville, Denver, Jersey City, N.J., and Washington.

Richard “Rick” Chapman, a longtime investment manager for the Walton family, was a senior executive with Walton Enterprises until he stepped down several years ago from the day-to-day business of handling its financial affairs. Online biographical materials for Chapman cite his various positions serving the Walton family, as well as him being a member of River Bend’s board of managers.

The Walmart stock sales by the Waltons last month comprised 1.5% of the family trust’s stake in the company. Walton Enterprises transferred approximately 14% of the family’s Walmart stock last year to the Walton Family Holdings Trust.

Walmart said in a March 2020 statement that the Walton family’s moves were consistent with an “effort to maintain an appropriate balance of family and non-family ownership of Walmart by offsetting possible increases in its ownership percentage over time and helping fund charitable contributions.”

A Walmart spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment about the recent stock sales or if Cravath has previously done legal work for the company.

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

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