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Deal star Johnson lands at Paul Weiss amid fresh round of hires from Kirkland and Linklaters

Quelling weeks of market speculation, former Kirkland & Ellis deal star Roger Johnson has finally landed at Paul Weiss, along with three other Kirkland partners and a partner from Linklaters.

The move sees Johnson, who was asked to leave the partnership of Kirkland in early August, reunited with debt superstar Neel Sachdev to co-lead Paul Weiss’ London office.

Recognised as a leading individual for high-value private equity by The Legal 500, Johnson left Kirkland after the firm’s management discovered that he was in discussions to take a team with him to a US rival firm. Johnson was among the first of the Magic Circle transfers to defect to a US firm when in 2015 he left Linklaters, where he was the firms’ influential Nordic dealmaker with key client EQT, for the Chicago-bred giant.

His departure coincided with Kirkland’s hire of Alvaro Membrillera, a respected private equity partner and the former London managing partner of Paul Weiss.

Joining Johnson are three other former Kirkland partners: Andreas Philipson; Timothy Lowe; and Cian O’Connor, all of whom had previous stints at Linklaters, as well as Linklaters partner Will Aitken-Davies.

A spokesperson for Kirkland said: ‘We appreciate their contributions to the partnership and wish them the best at their new firm.’

In a press release today (11 September), Paul Weiss said that Johnson will co-lead the London office and co-chair the firm’s global M&A practice, while fellow London co-lead Sachdev will also co-chair the firm’s global finance and capital markets practice.

For his part, Aitken-Davies, whose clients at Linklaters include TDR Capital, Hillhouse Investment and I Squared Capital, is joining as head of the London M&A group.

Matthew Merkle, part of the Kirkland team that left with Sachdev, will be head of European capital markets, while latest arrival Lowe will be global co-head of tax and head of European tax.

With these hires, Paul Weiss has pulled off one the biggest coups in the City in years, and a London practice with more than a passing resemblance to a full-service, English law offering from the Wall Street elite.