Howard S. Zelbo is a partner based in the New York office.
Mr. Zelbo’s practice focuses on international arbitration and complex commercial litigation. He has extensive experience as the lead attorney in numerous arbitrations and has represented banking and other financial institutions in commercial disputes. He has also represented both bidders and targets in several takeover litigations.
Mr. Zelbo is recognized as an international arbitration “star” by Benchmark Litigation: The Definitive Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys
. He is also distinguished as a leading lawyer by Chambers Global
, Chambers USA
, Chambers Latin America
, The Legal 500 U.S.
, Latin Lawyer 250: Latin America's Leading Business Law Firms
and The Legal Media Group Guide to the World's Leading Commercial Arbitration Attorneys.
In the international arbitration area, Mr. Zelbo has represented numerous foreign and domestic entities in a wide variety of matters. His international arbitration assignments include acting as counsel for:
- The governments of the Russian Federation, Argentina and the Dominican Republic in separate international arbitrations under ICC, LCIA and ICSID rules;
- Citigroup Venture Capital in its widely publicized battle for corporate control over Brasil Telecom, which included litigation in the Southern District of New York and ICC arbitrations in London and in Paris;
- DP World in an arbitration against Peru relating to a port concession;
- Goodyear in an arbitration relating to its principal European subsidiary;
- Several companies in purchase price adjustment arbitrations, including obtaining a $70 million purchase price adjustment award in favor of a French company;
- The former CEO of a large privately held European real estate company relating to the exercise of put rights;
- A large Italian gas supply company in a price reopener arbitration;
- One of the world's largest power plant contractors in an ICC arbitration in Paris;
- The former general counsel of a Fortune 500 company obtaining an award for severance benefits;
- The largest fishing fleet in Russia in an arbitration relating to a failed joint venture with a Canadian company;
- A Mexican corporation obtaining a favorable settlement in an arbitration concerning an alleged breach of a copper concentrate supply contract;
- The largest privately owned U.S. companies in defeating arbitration claims for commissions;
- An Argentine company in obtaining a favorable pre-arbitration settlement of a dispute relating to a liquid natural gas supply contract; and
- A Brazilian mining company in a matter in which the company was indemnifying the prevailing party in an arbitration under Brazilian law.
In his commercial litigation practice, Mr. Zelbo has represented companies in courts and before regulatory agencies in a variety of matters, focusing on securities and complex commercial cases. His notable litigation assignments include acting as counsel to:
- BHP Billiton on litigation issues involving its $40 billion all-cash offer to acquire Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan;
- Nortel Networks International in connection with a $7 billion dispute relating to the allocation of proceeds from the sale of substantially all of Nortel's operations and patent portfolio;
- Warburg Pincus in connection with litigation arising out of its takeover of Rural/Metro Corporation;
- Deutsche Bank AG and UBS AG in a multijurisdictional battle (Brazil, New York and London) to collect on an over $150 million defaulted loan facility against Intelig Telecomunicações Ltda.;
- Mezzanine lenders, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Bank of America, in obtaining a $100 million judgment in litigation relating to a loan guaranty;
- Citigroup in litigation arising out of one of the largest ever foreign currency trading frauds;
- Interpublic Group in connection with a formal, six-year investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to the corporation's restatement of earnings;
- Del Monte Foods Corporation in obtaining partial summary judgment in a complex commercial case that led to a favorable settlement of the remaining claims;
- One of the world's largest international cruise lines in winning the dismissal of securities claims;
- New York State Banking Department in connection with the financial collapse of BCCI; and
- Both bidders and targets in several takeover litigations, including representing the prevailing party in the Delaware Supreme Court's ruling in Bradley v. First Interstate dismissing a challenge to what was then one of the largest merger termination fees ever paid and in Arnold v. Society for Savings, the Delaware Supreme Court's en banc ruling absolving corporate directors from personal financial liability for proxy disclosure omissions.
Mr. Zelbo joined the firm in 1988 and became a partner in 1994. He received a J.D. degree, summa cum laude
, in 1985 from Cornell Law School, where he was valedictorian of his class and an editor of the Law Review
. Mr. Zelbo received an undergraduate degree, magna cum laude
, from the University of Connecticut in 1982. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Zelbo served as a law clerk to the Honorable John E. Sprizzo of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Zelbo is a member of the Bars in New York and Connecticut. He is the former Chairman of the Securities Litigation Committee of the New York State Bar.