Legal Business Blogs

Ashurst suffers further exits as Abu Dhabi head departs and A&O takes two Asia finance partners

The exits continue at Ashurst as the firm’s Abu Dhabi head has quit for a US firm while two Asia finance partners, including Ashurst’s Hong Kong managing partner have joined Allen & Overy (A&O).

New York-based Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle has lured Ashurst’s head of Abu Dhabi, the latest in an increasing tally of exits.

Training and qualifying in Ashurst’s London office, M&A partner Alastair Holland spent two years in the firm’s Frankfurt office before moving to the Middle East in 2008.

Holland described his new firm as ‘one to watch’ in Dubai and said he was looking forward to working with a team that has a ‘strong corporate core in the Middle East’.

Managing partner of Curtis’ Dubai offering Bruce Palmer added: ‘Alastair is well regarded in the Middle East and is widely admired for his strategic advice on corporate commercial matters. We have high hopes for him and are pleased to welcome yet more talent to our busy office.’

Meanwhile, A&O has secured two partners from Ashurst’s Hong Kong office, hiring Lina Lee and Jonathan Hsui who will join the firm’s capital markets team.

Lee has been a partner in the corporate group at Ashurst since 2009, while Hsui was made up to partner in 2013 after he joined the firm as counsel in 2011.

The hires followed continued growth for A&O in Hong Kong, with financial services and regulatory partner Charlotte Robins joining from Norton Rose Fulbright and debt capital markets partner Alex Tao joining from Davis Polk & Wardwell. The firm has also announced partner Stephen Miller will relocate from London to the office later this month to lead the firm’s Asia debt capital markets practice.

For Ashurst, the departures are the latest in a number of recent exits revealed this month with Paul Hastings picking up a trio of structured finance partners, Michael Smith, Diala Minott and Cameron Saylor, while Latham & Watkins appointed financial regulatory partner Nicola Higgs.

The latest spike brings the number of partners that have left the firm to around 40 since May of last year as the firm posted disappointing 19% drop in profit per equity partner down to £603,000 from £747,000 during the 2015/16 financial year as well as a 10% drop in turnover to £505m.

Following the disappointing results, Ashurst delayed its quarterly partner distributions for August, with one former partner telling Legal Business it was the second delayed payment this year after a postponement in February.

Read more on Ashurst in the comment piece: ‘Looking forward to Ashurst’s decline – The outlook worsens for a proud City institution’ and the analysis piece: ‘Don’t look back in anger: Ashurst leadership tries to rally partners but the drift continues’