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Proskauer makes real estate push in London with DLA hire as Latham taps Kirkland in Asia for another PE specialist

Proskauer Rose has made a strategic play to capture work in London’s burgeoning real estate market with the hire of DLA Piper’s global co-chair of hospitality and leisure, Joanne Owen.

Owen specialises in corporate real estate and acts for hotel owners and investors including private equity owners. She advises hotel clients on operational issues that arise from management contracts as well as food and beverage outsourcing. Significant mandates include advising on the acquisition of a landmark building in the City of London for an Asian company for around £300m; and acting for Blackstone on its purchase of a pan-European portfolio of 18 logistics assets from SEB Investment.

The hire is Proskauer’s first step in developing a real estate offering in London, where it currently houses funds, M&A, capital markets, finance, restructuring, labour, and tax capabilities. The New York-headquartered firm has long voiced its ambitions to broaden its City practice and doubled its office space with a move to 10 Bishops Square in early 2015 before embarking on a recruitment drive.

Other notable laterals include private equity and leveraged finance partner Alexander Griffith from DLA Piper and Baker & McKenzie EMEA private equity co-head Bruno Bertrand-Delfau last summer, as well as Kirkland & Ellis corporate partner James Howe. M&A partner Matt Rees from Simmons & Simmons also made the move in 2015; and before that leveraged buyout lawyer Steven Davis, who joined in December 2014 from King & Wood Mallesons, having been head of corporate at SJ Berwin up until the firm’s merger.

Meanwhile, private equity partner Frank Sun has departed Kirkland & Ellis for a second time to join Latham & Watkins. Sun, who rejoined Kirkland three years ago after a spell at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison’s Hong Kong office, joins Latham’s corporate group in Hong Kong as it makes a push for Asian private equity work.

Sun’s client list includes key Latham clients, private equity houses The Carlyle Group and KKR, as well as CITIC Capital Partners. The move follows a global play to secure greater volumes of Carlyle work, with Clifford Chance’s co-head of private equity and key Carlyle contact David Walker arriving in London in 2013 to spearhead growth of Latham’s European PE practice.

With Asian growth high now up on Latham’s priorities list, Sun’s arrival follows the triple hire in Hong Kong of Clifford Chance M&A partner Simon Cooke, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer M&A counsel Amy Beckingham and Hogan Lovells leveraged finance partner Gary Hamp earlier this year.

Sun was previously an associate at Kirkland & Ellis’ New York office between 2007 and 2008. His practice involves China-focused transactions spanning private equity investments, private and public M&A, joint ventures and structured corporate financing transactions.

Michael Sturrock, vice chair of Latham & Watkins’ corporate group, said Sun’s hire ‘marks another important step in the expansion of Latham’s private equity and leveraged finance practices in Asia’. Having tackled New York and London, Latham tasked a group of partners led by New York-based Edward Sonnenschein to review its Asia strategy at the start of the year and the firm has since confirmed plans to launch in South Korea.

Simon Cooke, global co-chair of Latham’s private equity practice, added: ‘Frank adds another dimension to our private equity practice and further bolsters our China outbound capabilities. This will enable us to better serve both our greater China-focused private equity and corporate clients on their inbound and outbound deals.’,