Former General Electric executive William Carstanjen has been hired as the new general counsel and chief development officer for Churchill Downs Inc.Carstanjen will join the company July 5 and report directly to CDI president Tom Meeker. Rebecca Reed, who has served as general counsel and corporate secretary since 1998, will remain the CDI corporate secretary in her new position as senior vice president, senior counsel. Carstanjen, 37, most recently served as general counsel and managing director for GE Commercial Finance – Energy Financial Services, one of eight main divisions of Commercial Finance with more than $12 billion in assets and more than $300 million in annual net income. During his five years with GE, Carstanjen led negotiations of a number of structured transactions, acquisitions, and dispositions, first as transactions and finance counsel to the company's corporate offices and later as lead lawyer for two different divisions, according to a CDI release.Carstanjen will oversee all legal affairs, corporate development activities, and public affairs for CDI. He will serve as a member of the senior management team and provide counsel on a wide range of strategic, tactical, and operational issues."Bill Carstanjen brings to CDI a level of legal and business 'deal-making' expertise that is essential for a company aggressively seeking growth through development activities," Meeker said in a statement. "While at GE, Bill negotiated and closed several multimillion-dollar acquisitions that resulted in new growth channels for the company. This experience should serve as an ideal complement to our existing development, public affairs and legal staff, and help enhance our ability to grow CDI and create additional shareholder value.""It is exciting to be a part of a company with such a storied history and proud tradition of providing its customers with a unique entertainment experience," Carstanjen said in statement. "I am eager to work with the management team at CDI to build upon the company's 131-year foundation and aggressively grow its business through acquisitions, alternative gaming, and other development initiatives."Carstanjen served from 2002-04 as general counsel for GE Specialty Materials, a division created in 2001 that grew from $1.8 billion in revenues to approximately $3 billion in revenues. In the two years prior as transactions and finance counsel, he represented various GE divisions in U.S. and international mergers and acquisitions.From 1994 to 2000, Carstanjen was a corporate associate of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where his practice covered such areas as banking and structured finance, securities, and mergers and acquisitions. An honors graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Carstanjen earned his law degree from Columbia University.
CDI was scheduled to hold its annual shareholders' meeting June 16 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.