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Freshfields brings in McKimm as LevFin co-head while Ashurst rejigs Asia management

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has changed its finance team’s management as it brings in Kirkland & Ellis high-yield heavyweight Ward McKimm as co-head of its European leveraged finance group, while Ashurst has made changes to its Asia leadership team.

Starting on 1 September, McKimm will sit alongside current co-head and banking partner Sean Pierce as co-head of the Magic Circle firm’s European leveraged finance offering. Now confirmed by a partnership vote, Legal Business revealed his hire two weeks ago and comes after the firm pushed through provisions to allow it to pay a small band of recruits over the top of its City lockstep, primarily to back strategic recruitment in US law.

‘The growth of European high yield has been extraordinary in recent years and the product is here to stay,’ added Pierce. ‘Adding Ward to our team clearly enhances our high yield offering, propelling us to the first tier of firms for European high yield transactions.’

The hire will boosts Freshfields presence in the high yield market in London, which prior to McKimm’s arrival counted US securities partner Simone Bono who came to Freshfields in 2011 to help build the firm’s high-yield bond practice.

The move was an unusual step for the acclaimed capital markets partner who worked at Kirkland for the past four years. ‘I was attracted to Freshfields by its ambitious plans in the high yield market and the excellent team already in place,’ said McKimm. ‘This is a significant opportunity to offer clients a first-class high yield platform in both Europe and the US.’

Meanwhile, Ashurst has named corporate partner Lina Lee as its managing partner of Hong Kong replacing partner and existing board member Robert Ogilvy Watson who will re-join the firm’s London corporate M&A practice. Project finance specialist John McClenahan, is also being replaced in his role as managing partner of Tokyo with corporate and projects partner Rupert Burrows taking up the position.

Lee specialises in equity capital markets, particularly IPOs and secondary offerings, as well as public and private M&A and has experience in advising investment banks and corporate clients mainly within the Greater China region while Burrows has worked in Tokyo for over 20 years with a focus on overseas infrastructure projects in the electricity, oil and gas, chemicals and transport sectors and corporate M&A deals.