Legal Business Blogs

Private equity play: Mayer Brown makes major move with the hire of Reed Smith’s Europe head Yam

US firm Mayer Brown has hired Reed Smith’s Europe and Middle East head of private equity Perry Yam (pictured) to lead growth in the City private equity market.

Yam joined Reed Smith about three years ago from the renowned private equity group at what was SJ Berwin, where had worked for 20 years. He will join Mayer Brown as London head of private equity.

Well known in the City private equity market, Yam counts Vitruvian Partners, ECI Partners, HIG Private Equity and Nova Capital Management as clients. He has been tasked with building up Mayer Brown’s City private equity practice and linking it with the Paris and US offices.

In January Yam acted for Vitruvian on its purchase of a stake in fast-growing flights search engine Skyscanner, which valued the company at $1.6bn, and San Francisco-based FTV Capital on its purchase of a stake in Newcastle-based technology company True Potential, which provides online services to financial advisors and wealth managers.

Yam resigned from Reed Smith in January and will join Mayer Brown on 15 February.

While Mayer Brown has flat lined in London recently, with the number of lawyers in the City falling 26% between 2009 and 2014 to 250, the firm maintains a strong private equity practice in the US and is now looking to replicate that in London. Clients in the US include The Jordan Company, which focuses on mid-tier leveraged buyouts. Mayer Brown also hired Reed Smith private equity partner Jeffrey Legault in 2014 to boost its New York office.

Mayer Brown London senior partner Sean Connolly said the firm was pleased to welcome Yam at a time when private equity was playing an increasingly important role in M&A.

He added: ‘His experience and market knowledge will be immensely advantageous to us and will complement our growing pan-European and global private equity practice.’

The exit comes as a blow to Reed Smith, which announced last month that it would axe 45 lawyers from its US, Europe and Middle Eastern offices in a move it labelled ‘necessary adjustments to remain competitive’.

Read more about the London private equity market in the feature: ‘ABC – the brutally simple world of a private equity lawyer.’