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Freshfields hires US M&A and leveraged finance heads in New York expansion

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has hired division heads for its M&A and leveraged finance practices in a drive to increase the firm’s US footprint and increase market share in cross-border deals.

Former Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz partner Mitchell Presser joins as the firm’s new M&A head. Presser co-founded private equity firm Paine + Partners in 2006 where he managed a $1.2bn fund focused on agribusiness investments. Before this, he was at Wachtell for 17 years. Some of his key deals include advising on QVC’s bid for Paramount and Morgan Stanley’s acquisition of TransMontaigne, acting on Kinder Morgan’s leveraged buyout.

James Douglas, who was a former partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for 25 years between 1985-2010, will lead the firm’s leveraged finance group Stateside. After leaving Skadden, Douglas took retirement. Some of Douglas’ notable transactions include the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco, Norfolk Southern’s acquisition of Conrail, and Colgate-Palmolive’s cross-border acquisition of Kolynos.

While much touted claims emphasise that Magic Circle firms are yet to establish a respectable footprint in the US, these hires come as the firm sees a rising demand for international experience in global deal-making in the US.

Freshfields’ global corporate practice head Edward Braham said: ‘Today’s M&A market is defined by increasingly complex international deals, and the addition of Mitchell and Jim solidifies our position as the first choice for these kinds of transactions. Today marks an important milestone in the development of our US practice, where we have already established strength in arbitration, litigation and global investigations, as well as antitrust, M&A, tax and finance.’

Presser added: ‘Transactions are international today, and Freshfields offers a global platform that enables clients to maximize value, whether that comes from being adept at navigating conflicting law and market practices, or where success involves the synthesis of multiple disciplines across multiple geographies. As a client I saw that advantage first hand. The firm has a unique opportunity to build on its recent success through growth in the US, and I look forward to helping lead that growth.’