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Latham hires New York playmaker to bolster M&A team in significant loss for A&O

Latham & Watkins has secured a senior hire from a Magic Circle competitor in New York, recruiting Allen & Overy (A&O) corporate veteran Peter Harwich.

Harwich specialises in advising public companies on complex public and private M&A transactions. He was established as one of A&O’s leading US deal advisers having handled $1bn-plus deals for Thomson Reuters, SAP, Deutsche Börse, Misys and GE.

He joins a list of high-profile M&A partners to sign up for Latham in recent months, including last year’s recruitment of A&O partner Ed Barnett in London and Linklaters’ Germany private equity head Rainer Traugott . Other senior hires have included Nikolaos Paschos in Düsseldorf and Aldo Piccarreta in Milan.

Latham’s global M&A co-chair David Allinson told Legal Business: ‘In New York we felt it would make sense to add some more bench strength. New York is still seen as one of the global centres of M&A. We never take on a lateral unless there’s a strategic reason. But Peter’s client-base of public companies and his strong skillset means he really fits the bill.’

With Harwich’s arrival, the firm’s New York office now consists of 17 M&A partners.

Harwich has previously acted opposite Latham on the $3.6bn transaction which saw Thomson Reuters’ intellectual property and science business sold to private equity houses Onex and Baring Private Equity Asia. Harwich acted for Thomson Reuters while Latham partners Paul Sheridan and Shaun Hartley advised Onex and Baring.

The departure underlines the challenge for leading London law firms of maintaining their New York practices in the face of more profitable US rivals. A&O, which outpaced its key London peers in 2016/17 with revenues up 16% and average partner profits rising by 25%, has cut a number of above-lockstep pay deals in the US in recent years to bolster its New York expansion.

Nevertheless, Latham’s PEP of $3.06m compares to A&O’s current tally of $2.04m, while the Los Angeles-bred giant is generally viewed as the most successful entrant to New York’s ultra-competitive legal market.