Roger Aaron, lawyer behind some of Detroit's biggest deals, dies
Aaron helped orchestrate Daimler AG's sale of a controlling stake in Chrysler in 2007 for $7.4 billion to Cerberus Capital Management.
Roger Aaron, a partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP who represented some of America's largest companies, including General Motors and Daimler AG, on transformative acquisitions, died on Feb. 11. He was 69.
The cause was cancer, according to a notice published in The New York Times.
A protégé of Joseph Flom, a pioneer in the mergers and acquisitions business, Aaron helped create the first so-called tracking stock, handled major assignments for Mobil Corp. and GM, and helped build the New York-based law firm into one of the world's largest.
He also helped orchestrate Daimler AG's sale of a controlling stake in Chrysler in 2007 for $7.4 billion to Cerberus Capital Management, the Times reported.
"Skadden would not have become the firm it is today without Roger," said Eric Friedman, the firm's executive partner, in a statement.
Aaron helped create the first tracking stock, a security issued by a corporation to reflect the performance of a single division, his Skadden colleague Peter Atkins said.
The innovation came as part of GM's 1984 acquisition of H. Ross Perot's Electronic Data Systems Corp., Atkins said. Aaron helped GM issue a special class of stock tied to the performance of EDS, Atkins said.
After GM acquired Hughes Aircraft Co., it created another separate tracking stock - GM H.
The technique became popular in the 1990s.
"For all of us who have lived with it and dealt with it and seen its complexity, it was a remarkable exercise in thinking and creativity," said Atkins, who worked with Aaron since they started as summer associates together in 1967.
Aaron became a full-time associate in 1968 -- the 19th lawyer at the firm, which now has more than 1,800, according to the notice in the Times. He became a partner in 1975 and led the firm's corporate practice for more than 20 years, Skadden said.
Aaron was a downhill skier, a biker and a fitness buff, Friedman said in an interview.
"This is someone who ran at only one speed all the time," Friedman said. "Fast forward."
Aaron is survived by his wife Virginia (Ginny), two sons, Peter and Todd, a daughter-in-law, two grandsons and his mother and sister.
Bloomberg, Reuters and David Phillips contributed to this report