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Global London rises – Sullivan & Cromwell signs up Linklaters partner for finance push

After years of conservative City growth, further signs emerge this week of Wall Street’s finest pushing into mainstream UK work with Sullivan & Cromwell recruiting Linklaters banking and restructuring partner Chris Howard.

The high-profile hire will be seen as a significant boost to Sullivan’s English practice in restructuring, distressed M&A and finance. Howard will advise international corporations, banks and financial sponsors on corporate restructurings and financings throughout Europe, the Middle East and the US.

The well-regarded Howard joins the US law firm after hopping between the Magic Circle for over a decade; previously, he joined Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as a partner in 2004 from Linklaters, where he was a senior associate. He then rejoined Linklaters in 2010 as a partner in the London banking team.

He recently acted for Carlyle on the financing of the £1bn acquisition of RAC as well as advising on the leveraged buy-out of DFS and representing Carphone Warehouse on its £1bn de-merger facilities. Other clients include Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas and HSBC.

Sullivan has been edging further into City work, having in recent years hired high profile corporate finance partners Tim Emmerson and Presley Warner, respectively from Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy and Freshfields. The firm’s closest New York rival Davis Polk & Wardwell last year signalled its move into UK law with the hire of Freshfields corporate partner Simon Witty.

Despite US firms’ rising international ambitions, Magic Circle rivals will be relieved that elite Wall Street firms move slowly. In 2007 Sullivan had 70 lawyers in its City arm. By 2012, that figure had fallen to 64.