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Revolving Doors: Kirkland opens new office with partner hires as G100 firms bolster finance, restructuring and disputes teams

Kirkland & Ellis has opened an office in Riyadh and recruited two new partners. Noor Al-Fawzan, specialising in M&A and corporate affairs, and Manal Al-Musharaf, focusing on capital markets, have transitioned from Latham & Watkins and White & Case, respectively, to join the 20th global office of the Chicago giant. Kirkland partner Kamran Bajwa, who has overseen the firm’s Middle East operations since 2011, will lead the new Riyadh office, serving as its headquarters for the Middle East.

McDermott has strengthened its finance practice in Germany by recruiting partner Matthias Weissinger from Ashurst in Munich. Weissinger’s extensive expertise includes advising sponsors, debt funds, national and international financial institutions, and corporate clients on various financings, corporate loans, and complex restructuring and insolvency proceedings. 

Elsewhere in Europe, Allen & Overy has recruited Dentons partner Pien Kerckhaert as a financial regulatory partner for its ICM practice group in Amsterdam. Kerckhaert’s hire enhances the firm’s financial regulatory services in the Netherlands and the EU, leveraging her extensive expertise in Dutch and European regulatory law, particularly in financial regulation, and her representation of banks, insurers, and private capital investors.

Back in London, Brown Rudnick has hired Derval Walsh, the former finance and banking disputes head at Mishcon de Reya, who now joins its London office as a partner. Leaving behind a 13-year long career at Mishcon, Walsh focuses on complex finance and banding disputes and has acted on matters in both English and international courts.

‘For what I do, there are very few firms in London that have the calibre to act against big retail and investment banks and Brown Rudnick is one of those firms that has the expertise. Also there is the added dimension that the firm has a US presence, so that makes it a very exciting proposition,’ Walsh told Legal Business.

‘There’s likely to be an uptick in work against banks largely because of the increase in interest rates. Big real estate and corporate borrowers will be enduring the impact of high interest rates and we’re going to see an increasing number of situations where banks move on borrowers and contractual counterparties as a result of the stress caused by this enhanced interest rate environment.’

Also in London, Mayer Brown has strengthened its litigation and dispute resolution practice by recruiting Sarah Garvey, a long-time partner at A&O. With almost 30 years’ experience, Garvey specialises in representing clients in cross-border financial and commercial court proceedings and arbitrations, along with offering guidance on transaction-related litigation and risk issues.

London managing partner, Dominic Griffiths told LB: ‘The hire is part of a bigger strategy for us in the London office to expand our disputes team. She brings unrivalled excellence in terms of experience in immunity, jurisdiction and enforcement. The litigation disputes team is really busy, so hiring Sarah is an opportunity to build on that and expand the team.’

However, Mayer Brown faced a loss in Tokyo as M&A partner Gordon Palmquist left for Freshfields. Additionally, Noah Carr has also joined Freshfields in Tokyo, departing from Latham & Watkins, where he specialised in advising on a range of matters, such as public and private acquisitions, private equity and growth capital investments, joint ventures, and strategic alliances for Japanese corporates, investors, and international financial sponsors. Both partners are US-qualified and registered foreign lawyers in Japan.

Returning to London, Herbert Smith Freehills has strengthened its global cyber and data security team with the addition of partner Peter Dalton, who joins from Stephenson Harwood. At Stephenson Harwood, Dalton co-led the technology disputes and cyber practice and acted as the lead partner for cyber advisory and incident response. Dalton is rejoining HSF, having previously been with the firm as a senior associate in 2019.

BDB Pitmans has expanded its family team by bringing on board partner Vandana Chitroda. Chitroda, who previously led the family law team at RIAA Barker Gillette, brings a wealth of experience in offering counsel on matters such as pre-nuptial agreements, divorce, civil partnerships, cohabitation disputes, and child arrangements.

Speaking to LB about her move, she said: ‘I wasn’t planning on moving at all. I was quite happy with where I was but I got contacted by somebody at BDB who said they needed a family partner who was steady to run the team. It sounded like a great opportunity. I felt ready as I’d taken a bit of a step back because I had children, so I felt ready to get back in.’

Keystone Law has also announced the arrival of four partners. Max Robinson and David Sutherland, former partners at Ince, have become part of the firm’s dispute resolution and residential property teams, respectively. Additionally, Julie Morrissy from Clyde & Co and Joe Bellhouse from Knights have both joined Keystone’s construction and engineering team as partners.

Fladgate has appointed finance and restructuring partner Georgia Quenby to join its funds, finance, and regulatory practice in London. With over 15 years of experience, Quenby advises clients on intricate matters in finance, including asset-based lending, acquisition finance, project finance, special situations, and restructuring.

In a similar vein, insolvency partner Michael Mulligan has moved from Kingsley Napley to Haynes and Boone, strengthening the firm’s London office with expertise in restructuring and litigation. Mulligan’s experience covers corporate recovery, bankruptcy, fraud, asset recovery, and enforcement across various jurisdictions.

Giving his market predictions for the coming months, Mulligan told LB: The turbulent economy has created the perfect storm for contentious insolvency and restructuring work.  As the pressure on many businesses ratchets up due to low-growth, high inflation and relatively high interest rates, the overall number of insolvencies is close to the levels seen after the 2008 financial crisis.

‘There has been a significant increase in liquidations this year as struggling businesses fail to restructure their debt, run out of cash and creditor action intensifies.  With corporates coming under increased financial distress, unsurprisingly the demand for insolvency and restructuring services will continue to rise and we will also see a surge in fraud-based litigation.’

Osborne Clarke has welcomed TLT partner Noline Matemera to its financial services sector team in London. Matemera’s expertise lies in advising on the financial services regulatory framework within the EU and UK, covering banks, self-invested personal pension providers, asset managers, payments, and intermediary firms.

Across the globe, Reed Smith has hired Sidley partner Han Ming Ho as a partner in its global corporate group in Singapore. Previously leading at Sidley’s Asia investment funds practice and recognised as a leading individual by The Legal 500, he brings over two decades of experience in structuring and formation of a broad range of investment funds, including hedge funds, private equity funds, and real estate funds.

Praj Samant, Reed Smith’s Asia-Pacific managing partner, said: ‘We are delighted to bring Han Ming on board. His hire demonstrates our growth strategy in Asia; to attract the very best talent in the market while continuing to develop our own. He will prove an asset to our clients in Asia and globally as his practice connects perfectly with that of our US, UK and European funds teams.’

Simpson Thacher has expanded its energy and infrastructure practice by hiring Gabriel Silva from Vinson & Elkins in New York. Recognised as a next-generation partner in corporate and M&A by The Legal 500, Silva brings expertise in advising infrastructure market participants on mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, with a focus on digital infrastructure transactions.