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Ballheimer announces surprise retirement as A&O leadership race heats up

As the Allen & Overy (A&O) leadership elections heat up, managing partner Andrew Ballheimer has announced his retirement from the firm at the end of his current term on 30 April 2020.

The surprise move comes in the month the City giant is to announce the list of contenders for senior partner and managing partner and follows an eventful couple of years dominated by the marathon merger bid with O’Melveny & Myers, which was abandoned in the autumn.

Ballheimer was elected as managing partner in May 2016 and before that was global co-head of corporate. He succeeded Wim Dejonghe, who took up the role of senior partner at the same time.

Commenting on his decision, Ballheimer noted in a statement: ‘This has been an immensely difficult decision for me, as A&O has been my professional home for almost a lifetime and it has been a unique privilege to serve in my current role. I am happy that the firm is in such great financial shape and, as a result, after 35 years in private practice, including 15 years in various senior leadership roles at A&O, I feel it is a good time to explore new challenges in the outside world, including in the wider community, before I am too old!’

The firm said in a statement that during Ballheimer’s tenure, client revenue grew 26% and profit per equity partner grew 38% in the first three financial years, while the current financial year’s trading ‘continues this trend of significant growth.’

The 58-year-old lawyer’s departure paves the way for potential candidates such as litigation chief Karen Seward and projects head Gareth Price, both of whom have been cited as potential candidates for the managing partner role.

There has also been talk that Philip Bowden, the firm’s respected banking co-head, is likely to stand against Dejonghe for the senior partner role, with infrastructure head David Lee seen as another potential figure. The field of candidates is due to be unveiled on 12 December, with the winners announced in February.

Ballheimer joined A&O in 1987 and became partner in 1994. He has worked in London, Tokyo and New York, where he was head of international capital markets. He was managing partner of the London corporate department from 2005 to 2010 and then global co-head of corporate from 2010 to 2016.