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Jones Day’s EMEA private equity ambitions grow with hire of BLP’s Weir and McKeeve

Recognised as a strong choice for UK mid-market buyouts and cross-border transactions, Jones Day’s London private equity team has expansive ambitions with the hire this week of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) corporate finance partner Michael Weir on the heels of former BLP colleague Raymond McKeeve.

Weir, who was made a partner at BLP in 2012 and specialises in private equity with a particular leaning towards large real estate funds, joins the top 10 Global 100 firm three months after McKeeve, who he worked with on mandates including Dunedin’s £44m buyout of Red Commerce in 2011, and Darwin Private Equity on its £10m acquisition of organic baby food business Plum Baby in 2010.

He will work no doubt be working closely with Jones Day’s London-based partner Neil Ferguson, a rated private equity lawyer with a particular focus on real estate related transactions including joint ventures, fund formations and reconstructions. Adam Greaves, head of Jones Day’s UK private equity practice, said: ‘[Weir’s] impressive industry experience, particularly working with large real estate funds, will significantly add to the firm’s existing capabilities and adjacent service lines.’

The hires come as 2357-lawyer Jones Day, which in the UK is rated by Legal 500 as a sixth-tier private equity practice (in common with BLP), looks to extend its capability across Europe, with now said to be a good time to do it.

Greaves told Legal Business: ‘In a boom market it is hard to get good people to answer the phone. Now people are more receptive.’

Jones Day is looking increasingly to the emerging markets, with Greaves adding: ‘An increasing number of private equity firms and other asset managers are looking beyond their traditional markets to high-growth and emerging economies, including countries whose legal systems are still maturing.

‘This creates opportunities for global law firms like Jones Day, with capabilities across all relevant and adjacent service lines, to deliver real value and the addition of Raymond will help us do that.’

Further European growth is on the cards and this year Jones Day enjoyed a 4% increase in revenues in 2012-13 and a 5% increase in profit per equity partner (PEP) to $1.7bn and $915,000 respectively.

In January, the firm hired a banking team from White & Case into its German office, including Annica Lindegren, Ulf Kreppel and Nick Wittek.

As for BLP, the firm is regrouping and consolidating after a difficult year that has seen its profits drop by almost 40%.

Recent departures include Richard Todd, who left the 786-lawyer firm to join Mayer Brown’s banking and finance group earlier this week; former Managed Legal Services head Patrick Somers who has joined DLA Piper and contentious tax head Liesl Fichardt who left for Clifford Chance.