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Revolving doors: ‘Talismanic’ Dolman heads to Latham amid surge in City hires over holidays

The City hiring push scarcely abated during the holiday season, with a host of laterals announced just before and just after the break. The most significant was the announced departure of Travers Smith veteran and private equity star Paul Dolman for Latham & Watkins. 

The move marks the loss of one of Travers’ most high-profile corporate partners as well as one widely considered to be immovable after 23 years at the City stalwart. Dolman has been a Travers partner since 2006 and in 2019 was appointed co-head of corporate alongside the influential Spencer Summerfield, in addition to his existing role of head of private equity and financial sponsors. 

Dolman (pictured) featured heavily in Legal Business’ feature  two years ago in which one partner at a US firm in London said of him: ‘If profit starts to fall post-Brexit, what do you do with Paul Dolman? If Paul left, it would be a killer blow. He is talismanic.’ 

Among his key clients are private equity heavy-hitters Bridgepoint Capital, TA Associates, Hellman & Friedman, and Graphite Capital. Stephen Kensell, managing partner of Latham’s London office, described Dolman as a prolific dealmaker who has steered a number of the UK’s most significant buyouts in recent years. 

London private equity partner and global vice chair of Latham’s corporate department, David Walker, commented: Paul’s phenomenal track record and reputation place him in the top tier of practitioners in the City. His connections and deal experience are highly complementary to the firm’s, and he will play a major role in the continued expansion of our practice in the UK and globally.’ 

Elsewhere in the world of private equity, Milbank said today (4 January) that it had hired Andrej Wolf from Kirkland & Ellis to its London corporate bench. 

Wolf had been at Kirkland for more than 13 years and became a partner in 2013. He advises private equity houses, financial sponsors and portfolio companies on leveraged buyouts and acquisitions, growth capital and minority investments, secondaries and disposals, carve-outs and cross-border mergers. Accel-KKR, Apax Partners, EW Healthcare Partners, HGGC, Peak Rock Capital, Summit Partners and Sun European Partners feature on his private equity client roster.  

Norbert Rieger, global head of Milbank’s corporate group, said: ‘Over the past year, we’ve considerably expanded our M&A and private equity practices around the world, specifically with the additions of Neil Whoriskey in New York, Lisa O’Neill in London, Markus Muhs in Germany and Andrew Whan and Neeraj Budhwani in Hong Kong. We are delighted to have Andrej join us as part of this expansion of our offering globally.’ 

Also in corporate, Baker McKenzie announced before Christmas it had hired Ashurst partner Nick Rainsford to its financial sponsor team in London in a move it hopes will bolster its transactions and infrastructure M&A offering. Rainsford, who has been at Ashurst since 2006 and a partner since 2013, recently advised DIF, Aberdeen Standard and LPP on their acquisition of Elenia Heat in Finland. 

David Allen, Bakers’ London head of corporate, said: ‘Nick has an outstanding reputation in the infrastructure M&A market among financial sponsors and intermediaries. Baker McKenzie has been at the forefront of investments by sponsors in the infrastructure asset class over the last decades and Nick joining us will add renewed momentum and credibility to our offering in this space. Nick’s profile fits perfectly into our fast-growing, high-performing financial sponsor team, bringing the number of our London financial sponsor partners to 10.’ 

London managing partner Alex Chadwick noted that this marks the 18th lateral partner hire for the firm in London over the last three years and said that it would continue to grow the partnership both laterally and organically. Other representative London corporate hires include Justin Hutchinson, who joined from Kirkland last January, Adam Eastell from Slaughter and May and Nick Bryans, also from Ashurst 

Meanwhile, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett hired Antonio Bavasso, Allen & Overy’s co-head of global antitrust and co-head of telecoms, media and technology, to its London antitrust and trade regulation practice. Qualified in the UK and Italy, he had been at the Magic Circle firm for nearly 24 years. 

Bavasso is known for advising on high-profile and precedent-setting merger, behavioural and litigation cases internationally in matters before the European Commission, the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority and other global competition authorities. 

David Vann, head of antitrust for Europe and Asia at Simpson Thacher, said:Antonio is known throughout the market for his superb judgment and ability to provide clients with insightful and practical advice on high-profile, cross-border transactions, as well as in complex antitrust litigation and enforcement matters. This diversity of experience makes him a natural fit for Simpson Thacher and a wonderful addition to both our global M&A and antitrust and trade regulation practices, and sets the stage for the further expansion of our European antitrust and competition practice.’ 

Jason Glover, managing partner of the firm’s London office, added: ‘Given the sophistication and versatility of his experience, Antonio will deliver tremendous value to our clients and is an excellent addition to our outstanding group of lawyers in London. Along with our recent promotion of Étienne Renaudeau to partner, we expect David, Antonio and Étienne to spearhead the future growth of our European antitrust practice.’ 

Finally, Gowling WLG has hired partner Mike Stewart to its construction and engineering disputes team in London. He joins from Wikborg Rein having previously been a partner at K&L Gates and Pinsent Masons.  Stewart advises on complex, high value disputes arising out of major infrastructure and energy projects, especially in the Middle East.  

Michael O’Shea, partner and head of the contentious construction team at Gowling, said: ’We’re really pleased to have Mike on board. He brings a wealth of international experience and joins a strong team that has an impressive track record of successfully acting for clients in complex disputes. Mike’s arrival will help us build on this and increase our support to clients in this space.’