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Jones Day Advises GM on Effort to Ramp Up Ventilator Production (1)

March 25, 2020, 6:45 PMUpdated: March 26, 2020, 7:45 PM

General Motors Co. turned to longtime legal adviser Jones Day to help handle a partnership with Ventec Life Systems Inc. to produce more ventilators and other medical equipment needed to battle the new coronavirus pandemic.

The effort, known as “Project V,” will explore the possibility of using technology designed to make components for cars to increase the production of ventilators, according to Bloomberg News.

“With GM’s help, Ventec will increase ventilator production,” said a statement from Ventec CEO Christopher Kiple, an attorney who joined the Bothell, Wash.-based medical equipment manufacturer in 2015 and became its top executive last year. “By tapping their expertise, GM is enabling us to get more ventilators to more hospitals much faster. This partnership will help save lives.”

Craig Glidden, who has served as an executive vice president general counsel for GM since March 2015, was unavailable for immediate comment. But Kenjiro LeCroix, an assistant to Glidden and counsel at GM, confirmed to Bloomberg Law that the Detroit-based automobile giant had enlisted an in-house legal team and outside counsel from Jones Day for its agreement with Ventec.

The internal legal team at GM included assistant general counsel for global corporate development and connected customer experience Elena Centeio, assistant general counsel for labor and employment Amie Nolan-Needham, global purchasing and supply chain lead counsel Aaron Silver, and corporate development counsel Daniel Dub.

Jones Day, which has long represented GM, saw Pittsburgh-based corporate partner David Grubman lead a cross-city group working on the agreement that included corporate partner D. Michael Murray, health care and life sciences partners Colleen Heisey, Maureen Bennett, and Chris Anderson, litigation partners Louis Gabel and Andy Stanton, and government contracts and regulatory partner J. Andrew Jackson, among others.

Covington & Burling and Fenwick & West are counseling Ventec on its partnership with GM. Covington has previously handled lobbying work for Ventec. Records on file with the U.S. Senate show that the company paid $60,000 to Covington in 2016 for advocacy work related to durable medical equipment. Ventec was founded in 2012.

Fenwick has represented Ventec since its inception. The law firm said it is now serving as outside general counsel to Ventec, which it is also advising on certain key manufacturing and supply agreements. Fenwick corporate partner Alan Smith and technology transactions partner Jake Handy are leading a team working on the matter for Ventec, whose CEO, Kiple, previously worked as a finance associate at Sidley Austin in New York and as a government affairs expert at Husch Blackwell in Washington.

The agreement between Ventec and GM comes as other companies, such as auto industry rivals Ford Motor Co. and Tesla Inc., have sought to team up with medical device makers like 3M Co. and Medtronic plc to increase the production of medical equipment.

(Updates story published March 25 with information on Ventec's legal advisers in seventh and eighth paragraphs.)

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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