The Week at Ropes & Gray: Coca-Cola Bottler Expands Across Florida; Utah Moves to Repeal Anti-LGBT Law; Debut of the Republican Health Plan; Tackling Human Trafficking in Tanzania
Weekly highlights of what’s happening at Ropes & Gray:
- Coca-Cola Beverages Florida (CCBF) expanded its operations this week to become one of the largest privately held companies in Florida. Ropes & Gray advised CCBF, the third-largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in the U.S., in its acquisition of distribution territories and operations and production facilities in South Florida from The Coca-Cola Company. The firm also helped CCBF secure a five-year, $550 million senior unsecured credit facility, the proceeds of which were used to finance its acquisitions and for general corporate purposes.
- On March 8, the Utah Legislature passed a bill repealing a state law prohibiting supportive discussions of homosexuality in public and charter schools, a move that appellate & Supreme Court partner Doug Hallward-Driemeier said “made it clear that every citizen has equal worth.” The bill now goes to Governor Gary Herbert for signature. As you may remember, last October, Equality Utah and three students, represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Ropes & Gray, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law.
- In celebration of International Women's Day, Ropes & Gray released a new issue of Women’s Forum News to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the firm’s Women’s Forum, an initiative established in 1996 to promote the professional growth of Ropes & Gray’s women lawyers. This edition of the newsletter pays special tribute to retired partner and former chair of the firm’s diversity committee Diane Patrick and provides a roundup of news, awards, events and steps taken over the last year to help advance the careers of women lawyers at the firm.
- Although Tanzania passed the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in 2008, forced labor and sex trafficking continue to be a serious problem, with the country facing enormous challenges in identifying and prosecuting these cases under the law. As part of Ropes & Gray’s global pro bono partnership with the international nongovernmental organization Lawyers Without Borders, a cross-practice team of attorneys traveled to Tanzania, where it spent a week in Dar es Salaam providing training to local justice officials in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes. This is the second time we've participated in a Lawyers Without Borders program since the firm began its collaboration with the organization in 2015; the first was in Kenya.
- The Republicans are mobilizing to repeal and replace. The two House committees with primary jurisdiction over matters at the core of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) each released a committee print on March 6 that they say will, combined, become the House Republicans’ American Health Care Act (collectively, the AHCA), designed to supplant the ACA. In sum, the AHCA may simply be the opening volley in the long-promised Republican plan to do away with the ACA, but it may not yet be ready for prime time. Read our alert for a detailed analysis of the early-stage legislation.
- The Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice recently published “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs,” which sets out questions the DOJ is likely to ask when evaluating a company’s compliance program. As explained in this alert, the guidance provides additional detail and insight into the DOJ’s evaluation process for compliance programs, and it underscores the agency’s renewed focus on the operation, rather than the appearance, of such programs.