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Revolving doors: Linklaters boosts Asia restructuring practice while SJ Berwin makes key disputes hire

In the second recruit to its Hong Kong office in the last couple of weeks, Linklaters has hired former Allen & Overy (A&O) partner David Kidd to lead its restructuring & insolvency (R&I) practice as the Magic Circle firm strengthens its finance and litigation teams in the region.

Kidd, who has operated under his own banner for around a year since leaving A&O in 2012, will make the move to Linklaters next month, joining former Herbert Smith Freehills Asia disputes head Gavin Lewis, whose appointment as partner to Linklaters litigation team was announced in August.

Kidd joins the firm in direct response to client demand for additional expertise in the region, according to Linklaters’ global restructuring and insolvency head Tony Bugg. Kidd will join insolvency litigator Melvin Sng, who is currently the only restructuring partner in the firm’s 160-lawyer Hong Kong office.

Bugg said: ‘Up until now we’ve done restructuring work mainly out of our litigation practice and some out of the banking practice but the insolvency practice up until now has been just Melvin. We’ve done some restructuring work but we’ve not had a dedicated partner.

‘As the leading restructuring team in Europe, we work with the advisory community in the accountancy firms and deal with all the major institutions in Asia. We’ve been talking to a number of these clients for some time and they have recognised we had a gap in our offering. David’s objective will be to look after our finance and distressed investor clients as well as the financial advisory community for anything that’s up and coming in the market.’

As head of A&O’s R&I practice – a market leader in the region according to the Legal 500 – Kidd recently advised separate creditors’ committees on restructuring the $15bn debt of Dubai World, $10.5bn debt of Nakheel, and $3bn debt of Drydocks World, which collectively represent the world’s largest restructuring of government-related entities.

Kidd has practised in Asia since 1998 having moved to Hong Kong with Cameron McKenna before joining A&O in 2001.

Meanwhile, closer to home, SJ Berwin has boosted its London disputes practice with Dentons international arbitration partner Paul Stothard, who led legacy SNR Dentons’ dispute resolution practice in the Middle East between 2008 and 2012.

This new comes just a few weeks after arbitration partner and former Salans UK international arbitration head George Burn left Dentons for US firm Vinson & Elkins.

Also in the City, longstanding head of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP)’s commercial and technology group, Adam Rose, is to join Mishcon de Reya after 23 years at the firm.

Rose, who spent 12 of those years as head of the information law unit, leaves BLP after a tough few months at the firm, which has seen numerous partner exits followed by disappointing financials, with revenue dropping 5% to £233m and profit per lawyer expected to be down 6% to £56,000 at the end of the 2012/13 financial year, although the firm has remained tight-lipped on profitability.

Rose, who joined BLP in 1990 before becoming partner in 1997, was also head of vice-chair of Lex Anglo-Brasil, being actively involved with Latin American chambers of commerce in the UK. His is the latest in a string of high-profile exits from the firm, most notably head of private equity Raymond McKeeve.

Elsewhere, as one partner joins Linklaters, another leaves, this time in Portugal where former Lisbon managing partner Jorge Bleck was appointed as head of M&A and corporate finance at Portuguese firm Vieira de Almeida & Associados.

Bleck, who helped to launch Linklaters’ Lisbon office in 2002, where he was also member of its European management committee before being elected to Linklaters highest management body – its international board – has played a key role in a number of key deals, including, recently privatisations undertaken under the terms of Portugal’s 2011 €78bn bailout.

Elsewhere, DAC Beachcroft welcomes new corporate partner James Reed from Baker & McKenzie, where he was a London partner and one of the three founding partners at the firm’s Abu Dhabi office, while Irish firm McCann FitzGerald has made a rare lateral hire from a ‘Big Five’ rival, boosting its corporate offering with former Arthur Cox corporate and M&A partner Conor O’Dwyer, who will join McCanns’ all-equity partnership later this year.