Outstanding Chief Legal Officer or General Counsel—Attorney Staff of Two to 15
When Bob Robinson joined BancTec Inc. three years ago, the Dallas-based company was in a fight for its life. Yet it was spending much of its precious cash on legal outsourcing, sending it to a single, high-priced law firm.
“And it cost a frickin’ fortune!” says Robinson, the company’s general counsel and secretary.
Robinson acted swiftly, deciding which kinds of work could be outsourced and what should be handled in-house. He right-sized the in-house legal staff, and he spread the outsourced work among multiple firms. “I went to the individual lawyers who were the best value,” he says.
The result: A dramatic drop in costs for Robinson’s two departments, legal and human resources, from $4.2 million in 2008 to approximately $2.5 million today. (Robinson took over the HR function four months into his post due to the death of that department’s top executive.)
The savings are significant for a firm with annual sales around $260 million, notes Robinson. They’re especially important because the challenges the company has faced in recent years require it to be lean to succeed. “We’ve almost died a couple of times,”he says.
For years, BancTec was known as a manufacturer of back-office machinery for banks. But demand for those old-school machines began to decrease after a 2003 law paved the way for paper checks to be converted into digital images. And just as the company was reinventing itself as a business process outsourcing partner for banking and other industries, the recession struck.
Robinson’s decisive cost-cutting has helped prove that he’s the right man to help BancTec navigate through the current turmoil. Not only did he reap $1.7 million in savings from strategic outsourcing, but he also revamped directors and officers, errors and omissions and other insurance programs for the company to cut annual premium costs by $732,000 while significantly upgrading coverage.
Yet Robinson, whose résumé includes a stint at outsourcing giant Affiliated Computer Services, is much more than a cost-cutter. He drove the 2009 sale of BancTec’s information technology service management division, a significant part of the business, because the leader of the business was transitioning to the buyer. And he developed a strategy in a contract dispute that resulted in a large settlement for BancTec.
Operating in a difficult economy, BancTec remains a work in progress. But the past two quarters’ results have been respectable. Thanks in large part, no doubt, to Robinson’s efforts.
At Fred Anderson’s first board meeting as general counsel of Texas Industries, the board made plans to spin off the company’s $1 billion steel manufacturing business to its stockholders; nine months later, Anderson and his team had completed an offering of $250 million of senior unsecured notes, tendered for $600 million of outstanding senior unsecured notes; refinanced the senior credit facility; financed the steel company and set up its stock; and worked out the arrangements of the separation agreement between the two businesses. Not a bad start. Since then, Anderson has led TXI’s legal team in financing additional transactions valued at more than $1.1 billion. In 2004 he and a few others founded GC Netweavers, a networking organization for general counsels.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.
Beyond protecting Dr Pepper’s secret 23 flavors, Jim Baldwin has recently resolved four class-action cases for the company. Last year his legal team completed negotiations for two licensing agreements with The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., netting Dr Pepper Snapple Group revenue of $1.6 billion. In 2008 Baldwin shepherded the transition of DPS from a wholly owned subsidiary of British company Cadbury Schweppes to a publicly traded Fortune 500 company. “The transaction,” he says, “entailed a highly complex, multibillion-dollar spinoff from Cadbury during the meltdown of the credit markets and under intense time pressure.”
In addition to heading the legal backbone of PepsiCo’s technology core (the company’s BIS division), Melissa Drennan sits on PepsiCo’s privacy and security councils and risk and disaster recovery committees. She recently closed a $98 million claim in a software licensing dispute and spearheaded an integration initiative that resulted in cost savings of more than $1.2 million. Drennan also served as the first woman president of the Dallas chapter of the General Counsel Forum.
Marc L. Kesselman
Frito-Lay North America
In the past two years Marc Kesselman has advised Frito-Lay in the transformation of its snack products portfolio, reviewing all marketing materials and claims as the company has reduced sodium levels, increased its use of “heart-healthy oils,” and designated more than 50 percent of its products as “made with all-natural ingredients.” Kesselman also negotiated the purchase of—and associated funding grants for—the country’s largest fleet of electric trucks, in addition to power purchase agreements for Frito-Lay’s Casa Grande plant, which now boasts one of the largest privately owned solar fields in the country.