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‘A different weight class’: Ashurst exits resume as Pinsents and Burges Salmon hire a partner each

Despite seeming to plug a run of partner exits late last year, Ashurst has lost two partners, with Pinsent Masons and Burges Salmon each picking up new hires.

Corporate insurance partner Hammad Akhtar is to join Pinsent Masons as the head of its corporate offering within the financial sector. Akhtar advises clients in the insurance, retail banking and private banking sectors on a broad range of transactions including disposals, acquisitions and reorganisations. Akhtar moved to Ashurst four years ago from Herbert Smith Freehills, where he was made up to partner in 2010.

Pinsents head of financial services Alexis Roberts said: ‘Hammad is someone whom we have admired for a long time with an established reputation in the City. He will add strength and depth to our corporate capability and complement the existing corporate financial services practice built up by Hannah Brader over recent years. We anticipate that Hammad’s arrival, combined with our proven track record in this area, will move us into a different weight class with respect to transactional work across the financial services sector.’

Meanwhile, Burges Salmon has taken on funds partner Jeremy Bell who has experience advising on the structuring and formation of private investment funds across the alternative asset classes as well as advising on investment into funds.

An Ashurst spokesperson said Bell was ‘leaving for family reasons and will be relocating to Bristol’. She added: ‘We wish him the very best for the future and thank him for his role in helping to establish our well diversified international investment funds practice.’

In December Ashurst hired Milan based partner Paolo Manganelli to head up the office’s restructuring team. He joined from Paul Hastings where he had been since 2014.

The firm also found a replacement chief financial and operations officer with UKTV’s Jan Gooze-Zijl stepping into the role, it emerged in November. Gooze-Zijl, who joined UKTV in 2010, will join Ashurst in February taking up a position on the firm’s executive committee as well as its management board.

The firm voted through changes to its remuneration system in August last following a flood of partner exits and its second revenue dip following its merger with Australia’s Blake Dawson in 2013.

Financial year 2015/16 revenue dropped by £28m to £505m, while profits per equity partner fell by 19%, down to £603,000 from £747,000 during the 2015/16 financial year.

Read more: ‘Comment: Looking forward to Ashurst’s decline – The outlook worsens for a proud City institution’