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KWM loses historic SJ Berwin client as buyout firm NorthEdge picks Paul Hastings for £300m fund raising

Paul Hastings has won a first time instruction from UK buyout firm NorthEdge on the launch of a £300m fund, the second mandate the US firm has taken from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) in as many months after it recently acted for historic KWM client Investindustrial.

Despite KWM pitching to retain the work, NorthEdge opted to follow funds partner Duncan Woollard with its instruction, after Woollard left the Hong Kong-based firm to join Paul Hastings eight months ago.

Woollard led on what is NorthEdge’s second investment vehicle, which is targeting companies based in the north of England worth between £20m to £75m. The buyout firm hit its hard cap of £300m within four months of fundraising, with commitments coming from leading institutional investors across Europe, North America and Australia.

When still at KWM, Woollard had led on NorthEdge’s previous investment vehicle, a £225m fund, in 2013.

Woollard was a core part of SJ Berwin’s much-lauded private equity funds team in the 2000s – which also contained Nigel van Zyl, who is now at Proskauer Rose. The firm’s private equity funds and M&A teams have since seen several exits, with deal heavyweights Tim Wright, Steven Davis and Richard Lever all departing following the City firm’s merger with KWM in 2013.

Woollard, who joined Paul Hastings as European head of funds last summer, also won an instruction on Investindustrial’s €2bn private equity fund at the end of last month after having advised it during his 19 years at KWM. The loss of these mandates comes amid a tumultuous period for the legacy SJ Berwin practice, with Europe and Middle East managing partner William Boss resigning in January as managing partner less than a year into the post, a partnership review last year that saw around 10% of the European partnership managed out and a business restructuring last month to reduce the number of practices in London from 17 to three.

Paul Hastings meanwhile has been rapidly recruiting into its City office, with Woollard being joined by Linklaters restructuring heavyweight David Ereira and Berwin Leighton Paisner’s head of structured debt and capital markets, Paul Severs, as the firm makes a play for finance, corporate and funds work.