Howard S. 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. 

Howard joined the firm in 1988 and became a partner in 1994.

Notable Experience

International Arbitration

  • The Russian Federation in an ICC arbitration against an $800 million claim by Swiss Compagnie Noga d'Importation et d'Exportation S.A.

  • Citigroup Venture Capital in its widely publicized battle for corporate control over Brasil Telecom, which included ICC arbitrations in London and in Paris and litigation in the Southern District of New York.

  • DP World in an arbitration against Peru relating to a port concession.

  • The Dominican Republic in an ICC arbitration brought by a Netherlands Antilles company on contracts to provide security services.

  • The Latin American affiliates of international oil and gas companies in an ICC arbitration in New York relating to a dispute under a gas sales agreement.

  • The Republic of Argentina, together with the Procuración del Tesoro de la República Argentina (the “Procuración”), in claims brought at ICSID under the Argentina-Italy bilateral investment treaty by holders of interests under multiple Argentine bonds.

  • Goodyear in an arbitration relating to its principal European subsidiary.

  • A major Argentine oil and gas corporation in a dispute with an oil trading company to which it sells LNG under an English-law governed contract, involving an ICC arbitration in New York and injunction proceedings in the UK.

  • 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.

  • A Brazilian mining company in a matter in which the company was indemnifying the prevailing party in an arbitration under Brazilian law.

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Commercial Litigation

  • BHP Billiton litigation arising out of  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.

  • Genting New York and Kien Huat Realty in winning complete dismissal of complaint alleging conspiracy and monopolization claims, and successfully defending this decision in the Second Circuit, which affirmed on all counts.

  • 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.

  • lnterpublic 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.

  • Norwegian Cruise Lines in winning the dismissal of securities claims.

  • The New York State Banking Department in connection with the financial collapse of BCCI.

  • 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.

  • The Heisman Trophy Trust against a seller of T-shirts that infringe the “Heisman” trademark, winning preliminary and permanent injunctions.

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  • General Member and Member of the Advisory Committee, The International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution
  • Member, The International Arbitration Club of New York
  • Former Chairman, Securities Litigation Committee, New York State Bar Association


Supreme Court Confirms Arbitrators Decide Threshold Issues,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, January 9, 2019

Second Circuit Confirms That an Arbitral Award That Has Been Nullified at the Seat of the Arbitration Should Rarely Be Enforced, July 27, 2017

Second Circuit Rules That FSIA Provides Sole Basis for Jurisdiction Over Foreign Sovereigns in Actions to Enforce ICSID Awards, July 17, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Holds That State Courts Lack Specific Personal Jurisdiction to Entertain Non-Residents’ Claims for Injuries Not Connected to In-State Conduct, June 20, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms That Corporate Defendants Are Subject to General Personal Jurisdiction Only Where They Are “At Home,” May 30, 2017 (republished in the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation on June 14, 2017)

U.S. Supreme Court: Hague Service Convention Permits Service of Process by Mail, May 23, 2017

Supreme Court Adopts Exacting Approach to Jurisdictional Inquiry Under FSIA’s Expropriation Exception, May 2, 2017

The Year in Review: An Annual Survey of International Legal Developments, Chapter on International Litigation, ABA/Section of International Law, Vol. 51, 2017

“International Discovery” in The Year in Review, The International Law Section of the American Bar Association

“Arbitration Jursidiction-by-Jursidiction Survey,” Lexology Navigator, Consulting Editor (2013-14)

“Supreme Court Upholds Class Arbitration Waivers,” Columbia Law School’s Blog on Corporations and the Capital Markets (April 14, 2013)

“U.S. Supreme Court Limits the Ability of Arbitrators to Order Class Arbitration,” Mealey’s International Arbitration Report (June 1, 2010)

“When Is an Arbitration Award Actually Final?” The National Law Journal (May 31, 2010)

“International Litigation: Year in Review,” International Lawyer (June 18, 2009)

“Third Party Discovery in International Arbitrations,” New York Law Journal (April 13, 2009)