Kraft Heinz names New York Gibson Dunn partner as global GC

Kraft Heinz has appointed Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Rashida La Lande as its new global general counsel and corporate secretary. The New York corporate lawyer will join the company in mid-January at its Chicago offices.

La Lande, who was not available for comment, replaces general counsel Jim Savina, who the company said in the announcement of the new GC’s hire was leaving to “pursue other opportunities”.

La Lande joined Gibson Dunn in 2000 and focused her practice on complex commercial deals, including mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, private equity transactions and joint ventures. She represented Kraft Foods in its 2010 acquisition of Cadbury. More recently, she represented Verizon in its $4.5bn (£3.4bn) acquisition of Yahoo, which closed in June.

With more than 18 years’ experience, she previously was an associate at Chadbourne & Parke. La Lande is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School.

She joins a company that has few legal problems listed in its most recent financial filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing lists one pending case, a Commodity Futures Trading Commission complaint against Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods Inc.) and Kraft in Illinois federal court. The complaint alleges Mondelez and Kraft manipulated or attempted to manipulate the wheat markets in the fall of 2011, according to the filing.

The alleged violations occurred prior to the October 2012 spin-off of Kraft Foods Group from Mondelez, and Mondelez “will predominantly bear the costs of this matter and any monetary penalties of other payments” as spelled out in a separation agreement, the filing revealed.

Kraft merged with HJ Heinz in 2015. Kraft said Savina “played a key role in the 2015 integration” of the two companies. The merged company’s top brands include Heinz Ketchup, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Planters peanuts and Jello.

Prior to becoming GC in 2015, Savina held various legal positions with Kraft over five years, including deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer, and associate general counsel.

Before joining Kraft, Savina served as executive director of global legal investigations and operations for Avon in New York.