Robert B. Bell is a partner in the Washington, DC, office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed. He is a former clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White and US District Court Judge Thomas A. Flannery. Robert has wide experience securing antitrust clearance for mergers and acquisitions from both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, and in representing companies and individuals in criminal and civil antitrust matters. He also regularly counsels clients on matters involving antitrust litigation and provides antitrust counseling on issues ranging from competitor collaborations to vertical distribution arrangements. His experience covers a wide array of industry sectors, including imaging, communications, defense, entertainment, manufacturing, mining, chemicals and transportation.
Recommended in the Legal 500 USA 2020 for Antitrust, Cartel and Antitrust, Merger Control. Commentators describe Robert as “very practical, knowledgeable and prompt” and as a “great antitrust specialist… [who is] fantastic at collaborating with international counsel to provide strategic advice to clients.”
Winner, Concurrences 2019 Antitrust Writing Award
2017 Capital Pro Bono High Honor Roll, sponsored by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
2016 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, sponsored by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Recognized for exceptional standing in the legal community in the area of antitrust law in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2005 – 2020. Chambers USA 2015 ranks Robert as a leading practitioner, noting his “wealth of knowledge.” Chambers USA 2014 cites clients commending Robert as a “‘very talented’ and ‘very smart’ lawyer, with formidable expertise in mergers and criminal antitrust work”
Selected by peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America in the area of antitrust work
Named in Competition and Antitrust Expert Guide (2014) by Legal Media Group
Co-author, with Leon Greenfield, “US Regulatory Aspects of Transnational Defense Mergers,” Global Competition Review (March 2003): 9
Co-author, with William Adkinson, “Antitrust Issues Raised by B2B Exchanges," Antitrust 15, no. 1 (2000): 18
Panelist, American Bar Association, “Bi-Monthly Cartel and Criminal Practice Update,” October 25, 2018
Panelist, American Bar Association, “Nuts & Bolts of Premerger Conduct: Where’s the Line in the Sand?,” January 16, 2018
Panelist, American Bar Association, “Pricing Conduct Counseling: The Robinson Patman Act,” December 15, 2017
Panelist, Strafford, “Avoiding Hub-and-Spoke Liability: Recent Antitrust Cases and Practical Advice for Vertical and Horizontal Players,” Webinar, July 12, 2017
Panelist, Strafford, “Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act: When Do U.S. Antitrust Laws Apply to Foreign Conduct?,” Webinar, June 7, 2017
Panelist, American Bar Association, Eleventh International Cartel Workshop, Tokyo, Japan, February 4, 2016
United States District Court for the District of Maryland
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
United States District Court for the Northern and Western Districts of New York
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
New York Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, 3rd Judicial Department
Representation of Kensington Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, in connection with its $3.3 billion merger with QuantumScape, an electric vehicle battery supplier backed by Volkswagen Group
Represented Cartamundi Group, a global manufacturer of playing cards and board games, in its acquisition of the United States Playing Card Company from Newell Brands.
Represented Cenveo Worldwide Ltd. in the sale of its long-run labels and receipt assets to Iconex, a provider of receipt and label solutions.
Successfully represented Unimin Corporation in its $3 billion merger with Fairmount Santrol to create Covia Holdings Corporation, the leading producer of frac sand and industrial sand in the United States. The parties pulled their initial Hart-Scott-Rodino filing and refiled it to give the Department of Justice additional time to review the transaction, and the Department allowed the deal to close without issuing a second request.
Currently represents a U.S. company in the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation of price fixing of generic drugs.
Successfully represented a Japanese executive in the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation of price fixing of capacitors by obtaining a non-prosecution agreement for the executive
Represented a Japanese company in the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation of price fixing in the auto parts industry, and secured the company the second largest cooperation discount the Antitrust Division has ever granted.
Successfully represented two European executives of a US automobile parts manufacturer in a Department of Justice criminal investigation. According to the lawyer who represented the corporation, “Everyone expected [Robert’s] client to be prosecuted. His effective representation and advocacy convinced the government not to prosecute his client. He was, simply put, pitch perfect.” (“Q&A with Gibson Dunn’s Jim Walden,” Competition Law360, March 1, 2013)
Obtained clearance for Meggitt PLC’s acquisition of Pacific Scientific Aerospace Corporation from the Federal Trade Commission. The transaction combined the largest manufacturer of aircraft fire detection equipment, which had recently attempted to enter aircraft fire suppression, with the largest manufacturer of aircraft fire suppression, which had been seeking to enter aircraft fire detection.
Successfully defended ConsumerInfo.com at trial against a monopolization claim brought by One Technologies in the Central District of California.
Successfully represented Eastman Kodak Company in its acquisition of Böwe Bell + Howell’s scanner business. The Department of Justice allowed the transaction to proceed after an eight-month investigation.
Represented the whistleblower in a qui tam action alleging bid rigging on US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded wastewater treatment projects in Egypt. The case, featured in a story by Kurt Eichenwald in The New York Times (April 13, 2001, C1), was the first time qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act have been used to expose a large multinational cartel. After a seven-week trial, the jury awarded the government $104 million, the second-largest jury award in the history of the False Claims Act. United States ex rel. Miller v. Holzmann, 563 F.Supp. 2d 54 (D.D.C. 2008). Following an appeal, United States ex rel. Miller v. Bill Harbert International Constr. Inc., 608 F.3d 871 (D.C. Circ. 2010), the remaining defendants settled for $47 million
Represented a major European airline in negotiating a settlement with the plaintiff class action in the air cargo price fixing litigation pending in the Eastern District of New York.
Successfully represented LSL Biotechnologies in its appeal to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Deciding an issue of first impression, the 9th Circuit held that under the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act, a challenged agreement between LSL and an Israeli company, did not have the “direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable” effect on United States commerce required by the act. United States v. LSL Biotechnologies, 379 F.3d 672 (9th Cir. 2004)
Successfully represented United Artists in securing approval from the Antitrust Division for the acquisition of two competing movie theater chains to create the largest chain of movie theaters in the country. Robert and his colleagues persuaded the division to clear the acquisitions with no divestitures, notwithstanding that the division had challenged smaller movie theater acquisitions in the past and had required substantial divestitures in those cases.