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Revolving doors: Squire Patton Boggs makes bold recruitment statement with team hires in London and Madrid

In a significant week of lateral partner recruitment for Squire Patton Boggs, the firm has added new teams in both London and Madrid.

In the City, the firm has hired partner Jonathan Lent from Gowling WLG. Previously co-head of Gowling’s real estate finance practice, Lent arrives at SPB alongside a director and two senior associates.

Lent is an experienced adviser to a range of banks and funds in the real estate market, and recently acted on the £570m refinancing for the HC-One care group with Welltower, a global investor in healthcare and wellness real estate.

Matt Dalzell, head of the firm’s European real estate practice, commented: ‘The additional resources and skills Jon and the team bring will enhance our client services, and the significant sector experience in hospitality and leisure, senior living and student accommodation complements our strong credentials and appetite for expansion in these areas.’

In Madrid, SPB has strengthened its financial services practice with the hire of partner Pablo Rodríguez Abelenda alongside an associate and of counsel, all from Roca & Junyent. Abelenda was previously head of Roca & Junyent’s banking and finance practice, and has extensive experience in advising both financial entities, funds and organisations financed in all types of structured finance operations, as well as in regulatory matters.

Rafael Alonso, managing partner of the Madrid office, described Abelenda as ‘one of the leading structured finance specialists in the Spanish market.’

Elsewhere, DWF has hired two partners in Paris to boost its EU consumer product law and real estate law capabilities. Nicole Coutrelis joins DWF from Coutrelis & Associés, a firm she founded. She is an expert in EU food and consumer product law for both French and international clients, with extensive experience acting for large food and agricultural businesses.

Pierre-Nicolas Sanzey also joins DWF after founding the real estate practice in Stephenson Harwood’s Paris office. He has experience advising both French and international real estate asset managers and investors on acquisitions and disposals, development projects and asset management.

Jean-François Mercadier, DWF Paris managing partner, said: ‘They are both highly-renowned in their markets and will be outstanding additions to the business during a time of strong growth for DWF in France.’

Also making a team addition this week was Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, the firm’s UAE arm, hiring partner Osama Audi from King & Spalding alongside two senior associates – one also from King & Spalding with another from Linklaters.

Audi advises clients on private equity, M&A, joint ventures, venture capital, complex corporate structuring, and corporate finance. He said of his move: ‘Baker McKenzie’s transactional powerhouse is second to none in the market and is highly attractive to the cross-border nature of our practices.’

Dechert has pulled off a private equity coup in London, hiring partner Sam Whittaker from Kirkland & Ellis. It comes at an expansive time for the firm’s London office, marking the third hire in just two weeks after the arrivals of Mark Thompson, also from Kirkland, and restructuring partner Kay Morley from Jones Day.

Whittaker is a seasoned corporate specialist with a wide private equity experience, including M&A, divestments, co-investments, joint ventures, management equity arrangements and a range of portfolio transactions.

Goodwin has made a key hire into its Frankfurt real estate team, hiring partner Markus Käpplinger from Allen & Overy. The highly-rated Käpplinger focuses his practice on global M&A, private equity and venture capital transactions in the real estate sector.

‘Markus’ practice fits perfectly into our private investment funds, and transactional and finance real estate offerings in Germany,’ said Stephan Kock, chair of Goodwin’s Frankfurt office. ‘This appointment significantly broadens our ability to serve corporate and real estate clients, and advances our position as the leading real estate and private equity team in the German market.’

Hill Dickinson has made a significant hire from in-house in Singapore, appointing Iain Sharp as a partner. Sharp joins from the Gunvor Group, a major commodities trader, after spells at both Dentons and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. With a wide range of contentious and non-contentious expertise in the international trade and commodities industry, Sharp will work closely with Hill Dickinson’s shipping and trade lawyers in London, Hong Kong and Greece.

Hill Dickinson’s Singapore office head, Andrew Lee, said: ‘Singapore is one of Asia’s busiest trading ports and is the largest commodity trading hub in Asia, with a supportive regulatory framework, lenient tax regime, well-developed financial centre and established infrastructure. We have known and worked with Iain for many years. He is an excellent lawyer and we welcome his arrival to boost our expertise for this vibrant maritime and trading community.’

In Brussels, Alston & Bird has bolstered its white-collar credentials with the hire of partner Isabelle De Smedt from Nixon Peabody. De Smedt has a cross-border practice advising clients on anti-corruption and fraud investigations related to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, UK Bribery Act, and other government enforcement programs worldwide.

Rich Willis, partner in charge of Alston & Bird’s London and Brussels offices, described De Smedt as ‘one of the leading compliance lawyers in the EU’. He added that she will ‘play a key role in helping clients on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure they understand the global anti-corruption landscape and have strong compliance policies and procedures in place, especially across borders.’

Finally, JMW has expanded its London employment team after looking to the Bar for its latest partner hire. Suzanne Staunton, a specialist employment, discrimination and costs barrister, joins the firm after a seven-year stint at Bristol set Guildhall Chambers.

Senior partner Joy Kingsley commented: ‘Suzanne’s decision to join JMW demonstrates our ability to attract outstanding lawyers. As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, we expect the demand for expert employment legal advice to grow significantly and Suzanne’s expertise and experience will enable us to build on the team’s continued growth.’