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Revolving Doors: Brodies hires Transocean former GC as Squire Sanders and Bird & Bird make key hires

The past week was one for lateral hires outside the City, as Brodies boosted its oil and gas practice with the hire of former Transocean general counsel for Africa and the Mediterranean, Tom Hickey; Squire Sanders beefed up its construction team in Manchester with former head of construction and engineering and corporate services at Pannone, Sean McCay; and Bird & Bird bolstered its Brussels base with the second competition partner exit from Ashurst’s Brussels office in two months.

Dual-qualified in England and Wales and the State of California, upstream oil and gas expert Hickey is to join Brodies’ Aberdeen-led oil & gas team on 6 April but will continue to operate from Paris, where he has been based for the last 15 months while with Transocean.

While at Transocean Hickey negotiated drilling contracts and supported the firm’s operations, compliance and tax teams as mobile rigs were moved between jurisdictions along the north, west and east African coasts, prior to which he held the position of assistant GC at explorative energy company Hess Corporation between 2000 and 2012.

During that time, Hickey worked out of Hess’ London, Houston, Kuala Lumpur and New York offices, advising on a wide variety of upstream and corporate projects in Europe, West Africa, the Americas, Australia and Asia.

Bill Drummond, managing partner of Brodies, said: ‘Tom has an impressive track record working with cross-functional teams on the successful delivery of complex and challenging projects across the globe.

‘In addition to his proven ability to carry out proactive risk analysis, develop local contractual arrangements and offer innovative solutions to manage risk, his in-house experience has given him a deep understanding of the issues that matter most to corporate clients, whether political, commercial or cultural.’

Also joining the Brodies team, this time in Glasgow, is dual-qualified renewables lawyer Donna Kelly-Gilmour, who came across earlier this month as partner from Glasgow-based boutique Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie.

Meanwhile, below the border, former head of Pannone’s construction and engineering group and corporate services division McCay, returns to Squire Sanders as partner in its construction division in Manchester, where he trained and spent 16 years at the firm until 2006, serving as a partner for seven years.

With more than 20 years’ contentious construction and engineering experience, McCay advises private and public sector clients in the energy, utilities, waste management and engineering industries, with particular expertise in advising on nuclear decommissioning and large infrastructure projects and regeneration schemes.

Also joining Squire Sanders’ 21-lawyer construction team from Pannone is contentious construction associate Jody Kite.

This comes just a few months after Australian firm Slater & Gordon announced the acquisition of the consumer services and personal injury (PI) business of Pannone in November in a deal worth £33m.

Meanwhile, across the channel, Bird & Bird has appointed competition and EU partner Efthymios Bourtzalas from Ashurst’s Brussels outpost, where he has been a partner since 2007, having spent three years as a case handler in the European Commission’s directorate general for competition.

Greek-qualified Bourtzalas has been involved in several high-profile and complex competition law matters at an EU and national level, including in particular several phase I and phase II merger and State aid cases. His practice includes merger control, restrictive agreements, cartels and abuse of dominance cases, state aid, public procurement, external trade, internal market, EU regulatory and institutional matters, and litigation on competition and EU matters before the EU and national courts.

His exit comes just weeks after high-profile competition partner Julian Ellison left Ashurst’s Brussels office in February to join Mayer Brown’s Brussels base in February.

Co-head of Bird & Bird in Belgium, Anne Federle, said: ‘We are very excited to welcome Efthymios to our team. His extensive experience, in particular in the energy and communications sectors, makes him a great fit and his track record of working with clients in South Eastern Europe will support the development of our firm’s activities in this region.’