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‘A big man for a big job’: Frontrunner Jacobs elected as Linklaters new senior partner

M&A heavyweight Charlie Jacobs has defeated competition from corporate colleagues Jean-Pierre Blumberg and Aedamar Comiskey to be elected the new senior partner at Magic Circle firm Linklaters.

Jacobs (pictured) will replace Robert Elliott in the role when the latter finishes a five-year term at the end of September. The South African born corporate lawyer has been the face of Linklaters’ M&A team over recent years and has long been regarded as the favourite for the role. Jacobs, who has been handed a five year term, joined the firm in 1990 as a trainee and made partner just seven years after qualifying, in 1999.

Jacobs controls major client relationships at the firm, including mining and commodities giant Glencore, which he advised on its $12bn London floatation in 2011 in one of the biggest IPOs ever to hit the London market. One of the busiest FTSE 100 companies in recent years, Jacobs subsequently advised Glencore on its $29bn merger with Xstrata in 2013 and is advising on its ongoing plans to slash $10.2bn from its $30bn debt pile. Jacobs also landed a lead role last year on the world’s biggest brewing deal, advising SABMiller on its mammoth $72bn merger with AB InBev.

While one partner at the firm recently told Legal Business that it was proving ‘hard to find people to run against Charlie’, he faced late opposition from Comiskey, whose run for the senior partner post is believed to have picked up strong support and split the vote among the firm’s corporate practice. Jacobs and Belgium-based Blumberg, who co-heads the global corporate group, were the first partners to enter the race.

Comiskey’s late run for the senior partner position followed management conversations about the all-male line-up in the managing partner race at the end of 2015. Banking chief Gideon Moore ultimately triumphed in that race, beating five male rivals, including disputes head Michael Bennett and Asia head Marc Harvey, who joined Moore on the final shortlist.

Legal Business understands that Jacobs pitched himself as an outward-facing senior partner, committed to client-facing activities, during the firm’s recent hustings in Berlin.

With Moore having recently replaced Simon Davies, who stepped down a year earlier than expected to join Lloyds Banking Group as chief people, legal and strategy officer on 1 January this year, Jacobs forms part of a new-look leadership team that faces key strategic decisions on how to deal with more profitable US rivals in the City while growing its own US practice.

Jacobs said: ‘As Senior Partner, I will focus my efforts on the firm’s clients and people so that we can continue to deliver outstanding levels of service for which Linklaters is renowned.’

One former Linklaters partner said: ‘He’s a big man for a big job. Aedamar made things more difficult for him than expected but Charlie has ideas about where he wants to take the firm and that will be important. Linklaters has its challenges, and the previous regime didn’t endear themselves to the partnership, but Charlie will build bridges and get them going again.’

It is understood that there have been talks about Elliott continuing at the firm in a consultancy capacity, as his predecessor as senior partner David Cheyne has done.

Read more about Linklaters’ leadership in the comment piece: ‘After the Harvard Kool-Aid and lost years can Moore galvanise Linklaters’