Ambassador S. Linn Williams
Ambassador S. Linn Williams has had more than 35 years of experience in law, business and government. As a lawyer and businessman he has been particularly involved with acquiring, divesting, operating and integrating companies that are significantly affected by public policy. Most recently, from 2005-09, he was Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Mirant Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange listed company that is an independent generator of electricity. Among other matters, he led the divestiture of Mirant’s businesses in the Philippines and the Caribbean.
Ambassador Williams has served twice as a political appointee in the U.S. Government. He was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the position of Deputy U.S. Trade Representative with rank of Ambassador. In that capacity, from 1989-92 he led bilateral trade negotiations with Japan and Europe and multilateral trade negotiations involving steel, shipbuilding and intellectual property. He was a member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a federal inter-agency body that is charged with addressing in the first instance whether there is any conflict between a foreign investment and national security, and chaired the Trade Policy Committee, a federal inter-agency body of 11 departments and agencies that set U.S. trade policy. In the first Reagan Administration, Ambassador Williams was appointed Vice President and General Counsel of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a government corporation that insures and finances investments by U.S. companies in developing countries. In that capacity, from 1981-84 he handled arbitrations involving expropriation of U.S. property, complex financial transactions and political risk insurance; he received the agency’s highest achievement award when he left the agency in 1984.
In the private sector Ambassador Williams has worked extensively in international legal, financial and commercial matters, including acquisitions, divestitures, mergers and operational integration of companies. From 1994-97 he was Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Edison Mission Energy, an independent generator of electricity and an affiliate of Southern California Edison, a public utility. From 1997-2000, Ambassador Williams was President and CEO of the European Division of Edison Mission, headquartered in London, where he had P&L responsibility for acquiring, constructing and operating approximately 6000 Megawatts of electric generation plants fueled by coal, gas, water and wind. The plants were located in the U.K., Turkey, Spain and Italy, and most had local partners. He was also responsible for assessing potential projects in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia. Ambassador Williams dealt with governments and regulators in various countries and with the integration of varied businesses and cultures. He established and chaired committees to manage trading and hedging, fuel purchases, country risk management, environment, safety and cross-border accounting. During his tenure as one of the executive team at Edison Mission, the annual income and indicative market value of the company increased substantially.
From 1985-89 and again from 1992-94 Ambassador Williams practiced corporate law in Washington, D.C., as a partner with the law firms of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Jones Day, and in Tokyo, where he founded and headed up Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s offices in Tokyo and Hong Kong. He worked primarily on cross-border acquisitions, transactions and financings. From 1974-1980, when he left law practice to join OPIC, he was an associate at the law firm of Blakemore & Mitsuki in Tokyo and an associate and partner practicing corporate law at the law firm of Leva Hawes Symington Martin & Oppenheimer in Washington, D.C. During this period he worked primarily on joint ventures and investments in developing countries in Asia and the South Pacific, on private placements in the U.S. and on investments by foreign companies in the U.S. From 1984-85, Ambassador Williams was the first Vice President and General Counsel of Sears World Trade, a trading subsidiary of Sears Roebuck, where he handled acquisitions and divestitures of companies and the integration of businesses in Asia, Europe, Africa and the U.S.
From 2001-05, Ambassador Williams served as an International Chamber of Commerce arbitrator in a dispute involving Japanese and U.S. companies, lectured on U.S. economic and foreign policy, wrote on U.S. trade policy, and consulted on operations and joint ventures in Japan and Europe on behalf of a U.S. manufacturing company.
Ambassador Williams was educated at Princeton College (B.A. 1968, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs), Harvard Law School (J.D. 1971) and Cambridge University (1972-74, St. John’s College), to which he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Ford Foundation Fellowship. In 1971-72, he was law clerk to Judge Irving L. Goldberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Ambassador Williams serves on the Board of Directors of the East West Center, an educational institution located in Hawaii, appointed in 2007 by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. He has served on the Boards of the World Affairs Council of Orange County, California, the Princeton College Class of 1968, the Benham Group (a private architect/engineering company), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Japan-America Societies of Washington, D.C., and of Southern California, the Inter-Pacific Bar Association, the European Institute (Washington, D.C.) and the European Union Center (Claremont, California); he has also been a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Council.