The appointment follows the news earlier this year that Kirkland lost capital markets partner Andrew Hagan, who quit to join Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer days after the firm lost a six-partner team to Sidley Austin.
Holdsworth leaves Linklaters after 14 years at the firm, the last seven of which he has been a partner. He will become the fourth Linklaters partner to join Kirkland in the last 12 months.
The move sees Holdsworth reunited with Linklaters former Nordic head of private equity Roger Johnson and the Magic Circle firm’s ex-head of real estate M&A Matthew Elliott, as both joined Kirkland last year. The US firm also hired Linklaters’ UK head of competition, Paula Riedel, at the end of 2015.
Linklaters has lost a lot of the emerging talent it hoped would fill the gap left by private equity co-heads Richard Youle and Ian Bagshaw when they left to join White & Case in 2013.
Holdsworth counts TDR Capital, Golden Gate Capital and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation as clients, and is known for his role on TDR Capital’s £800m take-over of upmarket gym chain David Lloyd at the end of 2013. Since then he has scored advisory roles on several big-ticket deals, including advising US computer systems provider Attachmate Group on a reverse takeover by UK rival Micro Focus to form a company worth $2.35bn last year and led on Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten’s $900m purchase of chat application Viber in 2014.
He joins Kirkland’s London office where the revolving door continues to spin. High yield heavyweight Ward McKimm who quit to join Freshfields in June 2015; Stephen Gillespie departed for Gibson Dunn in December 2014; and Graham White joined Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in October 2014. More recently, the firm lost a six-partner private equity team to Sidley Austin in the City.
For more on the challenges facing Kirkland & Ellis’ City operation, see ‘Kiss the ring – patronage, in-fighting and exits threaten to stall Kirkland’s bandwagon‘