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Investing in the City: Gibson Dunn scores with Kirkland’s Gillespie

The last year has seen Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher make a substantial push hiring heavyweight players in London with debt finance veteran Stephen Gillespie becoming the latest addition to the team, quitting Kirkland & Ellis after eight and a half years to join the firm.

Legal Business reported of Gibson Dunn’s attempt to pick up Gillespie in November, around the same time when talks were ongoing but fell threw at the advanced stages between the firm and Clifford Chance’s global co-head of private equity Jonny Myers.

At Kirkland, Gillespie was a senior partner in the European debt finance practice, with noteworthy deals under his belt including advising Smurfit Kappa Group in relation to its €1.5bn refinancing, and representing Vista Equity Partners in relation to the £1.2bn take-private of Misys – the largest take-private transaction completed in London in 2012 and the first hostile takeover since the changes to the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers in September 2011.

Prior to Kirkland, Gillespie was at Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy (A&O) for 15 years, where he was a partner from May 1995 to May 2006 and an associate before that. Before A&O, he was an associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

In his new role, Gillespie will continue his European leveraged and acquisition finance practice, and goes hand-in-hand with the firm’s other recent hires including Charlie Geffen, Nigel Stacey, Jonathan Earle and Mark Sperotto, all from Ashurst.

‘We have worked on the opposite side of the table to Stephen on private equity finance transactions and have first-hand experience of his superb technical skills,’ said Tom Budd, co-partner in charge of the firm’s London office. ‘Stephen’s hiring will position us well to attract top-tier leveraged finance mandates from both sponsors and lenders. His strengths in English law leveraged finance, when combined with our established expertise and experience in New York law financing products, will create a formidable bench for our clients.’

Ken Doran, chairman and managing partner of Gibson Dunn, added: ‘Building a top quality English law transactional practice is a strategic priority for the firm, and Stephen’s addition is an essential component to attaining that goal. Stephen is a recognised leader in European leveraged and acquisition finance.’

For more analysis on Gibson Dunn’s London strategy see: Charlie and the deal factory: can Geffen help Gibson Dunn reach new heights in the City?