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Latham recruitment spree continues with key arbitration and private equity hires

It’s been another week and another set of significant acquisitions for Latham & Watkins, with the global elite firm announcing a significant arbitration lateral hire and a key industry appointment to its London private equity practice.

The firm announced yesterday (24 April) that it had hired Shearman & Sterling international arbitration partner Fernando Mantilla-Serrano, who will become global co-chair of the firm’s international arbitration practice, based in Paris.

Mantilla-Serrano has had a distinguished career. Prior to joining Shearman in 2003, he was head of Iberian powerhouse Garrigues’ international arbitration practice and was also counsel at the secretariat of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, where he remains a member of the court.

Mantilla-Serrano will head the practice alongside Hamburg-based Sebastian Seelmann-Eggebert and Claudia Salomon in New York. His practice focuses on disputes arising in the oil and gas, power, natural resources, construction, manufacturing and automotive industries and has a particular focus in Latin American disputes. He is a member of the Colombian, New York, Paris and Madrid Bars and regularly serves as tribunal chairman, sole arbitrator or party-appointed arbitrator.

Latham has made a significant push in arbitration recently. In February last year the firm hired its co-head of the international arbitration group Claudia Salomon from DLA Piper in New York, followed by Ing Loong Yang from Sidley Austin to its the Hong Kong office in  March 2013. In June last year, the firm hired also hired Markus Rieder from Shearman, who represents clients in the automotive, industrials and manufacturing sectors.

Olivier du Mottay, Paris office managing partner, said: ‘Fernando’s arrival, coupled with the talented members of our arbitration group around the globe, confirms Latham’s stature as a key player in the arbitration market. We are particularly delighted to welcome Fernando in Paris, which is a key centre of international arbitration.’

Earlier this week, Latham announced a move to further strengthen its City private equity practice and cement its relationship with the Carlyle Group by taking on the buyout house’s senior counsel, Tom Alabaster, as a partner in its London office.

Alabaster had previously focused on fund formation, restructuring, deal financing, and regulation at Carlyle. Before moving in-house, he was a senior associate with Debevoise & Plimpton and had also been an associate at Slaughter and May.

The links between Carlyle and Latham have long been established and general counsel Jeffrey Ferguson is a former Latham associate. The firm has significantly bolstered its London PE practice recently, with the hires of Clifford Chance’s global head of private equity David Walker and CC partners Tom Evans and Kem Ihenacho.

For more analysis of Latham’s challenge to the Wall Street hierachy, see Taking Manhattan – can the Wall Street elite hold out in the age of the $5bn law firm?