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A&O lures FinReg head Penn back from Cleary as White & Case makes City funds play with partner hire

In a surprise move, Allen & Overy (A&O) has taken back its erstwhile financial services regulation head Bob Penn from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton after only two years away, while White & Case eyes the lucrative funds market with the addition of a new partner to its global banking practice in London.

Penn’s departure in April 2016 from A&O after 17 years to Cleary was a rare high-profile exit for the Magic Circle firm and a rarer-still  acquisition for Wall Street-bred Cleary.

He had been A&O’s head of non-contentious financial services regulation practice and is re-joining the firm as a partner. His start date is yet to be confirmed.

Penn joined A&O in 1999 and was made up to partner in 2007. His experience covers the full range of non-contentious financial services regulation, advising banks, asset managers, market infrastructure providers and financial institutions on national and international regulation.

With Penn’s return, the Magic Circle firm will have six regulatory partners in London, having hired Herbert Smith Freehills partner Nick Bradbury in 2016 and fintech specialist Ben Regnard-Weinrabe from the London arm of Paul Hastings earlier this year.

The financial services regulatory practice in London is led by Damian Carolan, with partners Etay Katz and Kate Sumpter making up the rest of the team.

Damian Carolan said: ‘[Bob’s] depth of experience is an invaluable addition to our team at a time when the volume, complexity and breadth of financial regulation has increased exponentially.  This is driving continued investment in the team to continue to support our financial services clients in facing sophisticated and evolving challenges.’

A spokesperson for Cleary said: ‘We wish Bob all the best for the future. Our financial services regulatory practice is an important global and cross-border practice. We will continue to support our financial institution clients across the world, with expertise from our offices in the Americas, Asia, London and the rest of Europe.’

Meanwhile, White & Case is persevering with its prolific recruitment drive with the addition of London partner Shane McDonald, who was previously senior vice president at Hudson Advisors, a fund manager with links to private equity firm Lone Star Funds.

At Hudson he was responsible for the financing of a large number of investments, including the acquisitions of non-performing loan portfolios and private equity portfolio companies.

Dual-qualified to practise in England and Australia, he was previously an associate at Ropes & Gray and, before that, at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Eric Leicht, head of White & Case’s global banking practice, said: ‘White & Case offers sophisticated sponsors and financial institutions a compelling proposition as counsel of choice for leveraged finance transactions. Clients benefit from our unique blend of US, UK and European law capabilities across our established EMEA network, including our strength in “US products” such as high yield and covenant-lite Term Loan Bs.  Shane’s arrival supports our ambition to continue building on our reputation as preeminent leveraged finance counsel.’

Oliver Brettle, London-based member of White & Case’s global executive committee, said: ‘Our 2020 strategy includes a focus on profitable growth in London, and in the global financial institutions and private equity industries. Shane’s arrival propels us forward in all three areas, and he joins a strong banking team in both London and globally.’