James C. Woolery is head of the firm’s M&A and Corporate Governance practices. He draws on his unique background of legal, investment banking and hedge fund experience to counsel c-suites, boards and general counsels across the full spectrum of corporate and strategic matters, including mergers & acquisitions, corporate governance, activist defense and other complex transactions.
Throughout his career, Mr. Woolery has been widely recognized as one of the country’s leading M&A advisors and he has advised on over $1 trillion in M&A transactions, including serving as a lead advisor on two of the largest leveraged buyouts in history: the $24.9 billion acquisition of Dell by Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners and the $48 billion acquisition of TXU by KKR and TPG.
Mr. Woolery also has deep experience advising boards in takeover and activist situations, including Air Products’ tender offer and proxy fight for Airgas and Clorox’s successful defense against Carl Icahn.
Prior to joining King & Spalding, Mr. Woolery was a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, where he also established and led Cravath’s Business Development and Strategy Group. After 17 years at Cravath, Mr. Woolery became co-head of North American Mergers and Acquisitions at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
In 2013, Mr. Woolery joined Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP as deputy chairman and co-chair of the firm’s Corporate Department, where he advised numerous companies on a variety of corporate issues, and was responsible for business development, strategy and external relations.
Most recently, Mr. Woolery was a founder and managing partner of Hudson Executive Capital, an investment firm established with numerous CEO partners that sought to create value in U.S. middle-market companies through constructive shareholder engagement and transactional expertise.
Mr. Woolery was also a founder and chairman of The Shareholder-Director Exchange, a network of leading independent directors and institutional investors, established to foster constructive shareholder and director engagement.
Mr. Woolery has also defended dozens of companies in shareholder activist campaigns, including Air Products against Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square, and Clorox against Carl Icahn. Mr. Woolery’s activist defense expertise, and his recognition in the corporate governance space more generally, have allowed him to develop strong working relationships with the long-term investors and other key governance constituencies who are increasingly determining outcomes in hostile contests and activist matters.
- J.D., University of Kentucky
- B.A., Wake Forest University
- New York
- Board Member of John R. Gaines Center for the Humanities at the University of Kentucky
- Founding Board Member of Sing for Hope
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