Legal Business Blogs

Revolving doors: partner recruitment takes on more international hue with key hires in Asia and Middle East

Global 100 heavyweight Milbank has made the most significant lateral hire play of the past week, hiring not one but three private equity specialists in Hong Kong from the Magic Circle.

The firm has hired two Clifford Chance mergers and acquisitions partners, Andrew Whan and Neeraj Budhwani, and Linklaters global head of banking Davide Mencacci.

The new hires are yet to join Milbank: Whan, who has been a partner since 2006 currently leads Clifford Chance’s corporate practice in Asia and has spent time in the firm’s Tokyo office. Budhwani also advises on private equity investments and has been a partner since 2011, having joined CC from Deacons in 2004.

Meanwhile, Mencacci is known for his work on leveraged financing and has been a partner at Linklaters since 2007, joining its Milan office from the local office of Allen & Overy where he made partner. He has been based in Hong Kong since 2015.

Also in Asia, Hunton Andrews Kurth has hired Sheaman & Sterling’s head of nuclear and project finance partner George Borovas to its Tokyo office. Borovas, who will be the chair of the firm’s nuclear energy practice and the managing partner of the Tokyo office, brings two decades of experience advising governments, sponsors and lenders on the development of civilian nuclear power programs and the financing and construction of nuclear power plants.

‘George played a central role in the development and financing of some of the largest nuclear power projects and programs in the world,’ said Jeffrey Schroeder, head of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s energy and infrastructure team. ‘His significant experience and reputation as one of the top nuclear energy project lawyers are a welcome addition to the firm.’

Elsewhere, in the Middle East, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has made a notable play to bolster its signature real estate practice, hiring a duo from Dechert. Stephen Kelly and Sarah Mahood joined BCLP’s Dubai office earlier this month and are highly regarded real estate lawyers with a particular emphasis in the hotels and hospitality market.

The addition of their practice further builds on the firm’s experience in the Middle East and follows on from the recent expansion of its real estate practice in Europe with the addition of a seven-lawyer group in Paris, led by partner Pierre Popesco.

Global real estate head, Chris de Pury, said: ‘We are proud to already have a top-tier offering in the Middle East and the region is key for us. Adding Sarah and Stephen’s practice area experience and fantastic reputation is a real coup and further demonstration of our goal to become the world’s leading real estate legal advisory business.’

Meanwhile, in London fellow G100 firm Reed Smith has also made a double partner hire, this time in aviation. Christopher Jackson and Adam Longney join as partners in its transportation industry group.

Jackson has over two decades of experience and joins from REN Legal, where he was partner. He has also previously worked in-house at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Rolls-Royce. He trained and qualified at Allen & Overy. His practice focuses on asset finance and leasing transactions, with a particular emphasis on aircraft and engine leasing and trading, structured finance and sales finance.

Longney also joins from REN Legal where he was partner. He has previously worked at BCLP and Norton Rose Fulbright. He has 15 years’ experience advising borrowers, financiers, lessors and lessees on a broad spectrum of domestic and international financing and leasing transactions.

Rob Wilkins, co-chair of Reed Smith’s transportation industry group, said: ‘In recent years we have made significant strides in diversifying our transportation offering beyond just supporting the shipping industry. The arrival of both Chris and Adam underlines our commitment to providing the very best possible service to the aviation industry and its financiers.’

In Paris, leading French independent Gide Loyrette Nouel has welcomed back tax expert Paul de France as a partner. De France, who trained at Gide a decade ago, was most recently deputy tax director of the Casino Group, one of the world’s leading food retail companies. He notably oversaw and implemented the tax aspects of its asset disposal plan in 2018 and 2019. Before that he spent time at Ernst & Young and Mayer Brown.

Finally, legal tech and litigation funding firm ME Group has hired Steven Zdolyny as its general counsel (GC). As well as providing legal advice across the group, and managing its external advisers, Zdolyny will be a key lead in development of ME Group’s service offering.

CEO Rob Cooper said that the GC position is a new role reflecting the continued growth of the group, as it expands both as a litigation funder and a provider of technology-led support services to law firms managing complex and volume disputes.

Zdolyny has more than 30 years public and private sector legal services experience and was previously GC and one of the founding directors of legal tech pioneer Kim Technologies. Prior to that, he was the director of legal services, GC , chief compliance officer and training principal at EY Riverview Law, and served as a director on the board of Riverview Law Limited.