Legal Business Blogs

Revolving Doors: Strategic growth for A&O, Eversheds, Wiggin, Dentons, Field Fisher and Olswang

In the last major round of hires before 2013 draws to a close, Allen & Overy (A&O) has boosted its international competition capability while Eversheds has expanded its City tax team and firms including Wiggin, Dentons, Field Fisher Waterhouse and Olswang have this month made strategic lateral hires across the media, energy, real estate and insolvency space.

At the start of December, A&O hired Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) competition partner Peter McDonald to head its Australian antitrust and competition practice. Previously a senior officer at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), at HSF McDonald advised clients in the energy, mining, industrial, retail and financial services sectors.

McDonald, who is a member of the Competition and Consumer Committee of the Law Council of Australia, has experience of covering transactional advice, merger clearances, consumer and regulatory issues and defending clients in investigations and legal actions by the ACCC.

A&O co-head of the global antitrust practice Elaine Johnston said: ‘Peter’s appointment furthers our strategy to put in place a top-quality team of antitrust lawyers in the three key global regions: Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States. This ensures that we can offer our clients the critical advice they need on global antitrust, regulatory and litigation issues.’

The move comes after A&O this summer boosted its global antitrust practice with the hire of Visa Europe’s general counsel (GC) and executive vice president and company secretary Vanessa Turner as a partner in Brussels.

On the Continent, the burgeoning Paris market saw Dentons hire energy duo Ramin Hariri and Vincent Lacombe a week ago (3 December) from France’s largest law firm, Fidal, to boost its energy offering with a particular focus on Francophone Africa.

The duo focus on energy and project finance across the oil, gas, mining and infrastructure space in France, Africa and the Middle East and have experience of working under ‘OHADA’ – the organisation for the harmonisation of business laws adopted by 17 West and Central African nations.

Dentons Europe chief executive, Dariusz Oleszczuk said: ‘They work for a number of large energy and utilities companies and governments, which fits well with Dentons’ overall Africa strategy. In particular, they bring strong expertise under OHADA, which is greatly appreciated by clients. I am confident that the addition of Ramin and Vincent will not only enhance Dentons’ existing client relationships in Francophone Africa, but will also provide many new opportunities throughout our global firm.’

The move followed Olswang’s tie up in Germany with insolvency lawyer Christian Köhler-Ma, to launch ‘Olswang Restructuring Solutions’ – a business aimed at providing counsel to companies, managers, shareholders and creditors during crises and near-critical situations in Germany. The new consultancy service will launch on 1 January 2014.

Previously, Köhler-Ma was senior partner at Leonhardt Rechtsanwälte in Berlin and his clients have included Systracom Bank AG, Gameplay Deutschland GmbH, nuclear power plant engineering company Kraftwerks-und Anlagenbau AG and internet advertising agency I-D Media AG.

In the City, meanwhile, a key in-house mover over the past fortnight was Deloitte’s heavyweight tax litigation director Giles Salmond, who resigned to head up Eversheds’ City VAT disputes and indirect taxes practice.

As an indirect tax litigation specialist, Salmond has represented multinationals and UK PLCs both before the UK courts, tribunals and the European Court of Justice. Previously, he acted for Condé Nast in a leading VAT case and he was also involved in the first UK tax mediation.

Eversheds tax head David Jervis said: ‘Giles has developed a strong reputation in the market having acted for a wide range of clients across all sectors including consumer business, leisure and the financial services sector, having been involved in a number of high profile disputes with the tax authorities.’

Within the media law sector, boutique firm Wiggin this month recruited TV lawyer Medwyn Jones to join its TV group as a partner. Medwyn joins from Harbottle & Lewis, where he has been a partner for 20 years, and has advised some of UK’s leading drama production companies (including the producers of Sherlock, Call The Midwife, and the recent BBC drama series The Escape Artist), as well as on-screen and writing talent, rights owners, events owners and agencies.

He starts his new role at Wiggin in January. The hire follows that of Ted Shapiro, who was previously head of legal at the Motion Picture Association, who joined as a partner at the beginning of 2013.

Wiggin co-head of the TV group Charles Moore said: ‘In the advent of the UK TV tax credit, which Wiggin helped initiate, our TV practice has never been busier. We are already working with US networks and cable companies, UK broadcasters, banks and other financiers, as well as UK independent production companies, on a raft of UK and international productions and other ventures. With Medwyn joining our team, we will have a combined UK TV expertise and client base that is second to none.’

Also in the City, Field Fisher Waterhouse strengthened its real estate investment offering with the hire of partner Rhodri Pazzi-Axworthy from Nabarro, who will join on January 6 and will be based in the firm’s London office.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer-trained Pazzi-Axworthy became a partner at Nabarro in 2006. He also chaired Nabarro’s European Alliance’s Real Estate Group. Prior to that, he worked as a partner at Maxwell Batley between 2002 and 2006. He has experience of representing investors and developers, and advising on the real estate aspects of complex corporate and finance driven transactions.