The ties between billionaire Barry Diller and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz grew stronger Tuesday as a former associate from the high-powered law firm was tapped for a coveted legal position at the media conglomerate.
Diller’s IAC/InterActivCorp announced that Kendall Handler, who spent more than a half-dozen years doing deals at Wachtell prior to joining the company in 2017, will assume its general counsel role Jan. 1.
Handler succeeds Gregg Winiarski, who will retire Dec. 31 after nearly 16 years in the top legal chair at IAC. The New York-based company owns news website The Daily Beast, video hosting platform Vimeo, and ANGI Homeservices Inc., parent of home services business Angie’s List.
IAC credited Handler, who currently serves as a vice president and mergers and acquisitions counsel for the company, with advising on some of its largest transactions, including its $1 billion investment in MGM Resorts International in August and its $500 million buy of online marketplace Care.com Inc.
“Kendall has already made a real and positive impact on the company during her time here, and we have big expectations ahead,” said a statement from IAC’s CEO Joseph Levin. “As is IAC’s tradition, we like to promote our leaders from within. We will all miss Gregg deeply.”
Levin called Winiarski a “positive and smart influence” at the “heart of this company,” crediting him for “the superb bench he has built in the legal department.”
Winiarski, a former associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, joined IAC as an associate general counsel in 2005 and took over the company’s legal, governance, and human resources functions four years later. Winiarski will retire Dec. 31 but remain with the company through 2021 to transition his general counsel duties.
Winiarski currently owns more than $6.8 million in IAC stock, according to Bloomberg data. He received more than $2.6 million in total compensation—including $500,000 in cash—last year, per a proxy statement filed by IAC for fiscal 2019.
Handler is among a number of top lawyers and executives at Diller-controlled entities previously worked at Wachtell.
Wachtell advised IAC this past summer on its separation from Match Group Inc., the Dallas-based parent company of online dating applications Hinge, Match.com, OkCupid, and Tinder.
Pamela Seymon, a retired corporate partner at Wachtell and the sister-in-law of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), serves on the board of the newly independent Match. The company’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer is former Wachtell associate Gary Swidler.
Former Match chairman and CEO Gregory Blatt, another former Wachtell associate, preceded Winiarski as IAC’s general counsel and once served as IAC’s top executive. Blatt was replaced as Match’s CEO in 2018 and for the past two years has been embroiled in a litigation battle with a former Tinder executive over dueling defamation and sexual harassment and retaliation claims.
Match, whose chief legal officer is former Latham & Watkins associate Jared Sine, was advised by Debevoise & Plimpton on its separation from IAC.
An IAC spokeswoman told Bloomberg Law that Joanne Hawkins will remain deputy general counsel for the company. Mark Stein, a former lawyer at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, has spent the past five years as IAC’s chief strategy officer.
Securities filings related to IAC’s separation from Match show that Stein earned nearly $4.2 million in total compensation last year from IAC, which listed Winiarski’s total earnings at nearly $4.4 million.
Other lawyers are sprinkled throughout IAC’s leadership structure, including Daily Beast CEO Heather Dietrick, a former president and general counsel of Gawker Media LLC.