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Linklaters makes key real estate finance hire with former Allen & Overy team leader

In a move to boost its real estate finance practice, Linklaters has hired former Allen & Overy (A&O) real estate finance head Mark O’Neill.

Having headed A&O’s real estate practice from 1998 to 2014, O’Neill retired from the A&O partnership a year ago, returning to his native New Zealand for family reasons. His arrival lifts Linklaters’ real estate finance partner count to four in London including Trevor Clark, Steve Smith and the recently promoted Scott Simpson.

O’Neill has extensive experience of investment and leveraged lending, project finance, workouts and restructuring, securitisations and real estate finance. He acted for lenders and borrowers in the UK and across Europe and the Middle East.

Linklaters global head of banking Tony Bugg said: ‘Mark is widely recognised as one of the pre-eminent real estate finance practitioners in the European market, and we are delighted to have him on board. We have had significant growth in the amount of high-quality real estate finance work we have advised on in recent years and we are committed to developing the broader real estate sector.’

Recent transactions for Linklaters include advising Starwood and Brookfield on the €325m financing of a portfolio of Interhotels branded hotels in Germany, and LaSalle Investment Management on the refinancing of the acquisition of Telford Shopping Centre.

Linklaters wider finance practice was rejigged earlier this year as Bugg took over as global head of banking, following Gideon Moore’s appointment as managing partner.

Bugg told Legal Business in February he would review the firm’s property finance team given real estate’s increasing popularity as an asset class among alternative finance providers. The current team was trimmed during a restructuring during the 2000s.

The practice sits under a reorganised global loans practice, which includes asset finance, real estate finance and emerging markets.