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Ropes & Gray finance duo Wesseldine and Wheeler exit firm for King & Spalding

Ropes & Gray finance partners Mark Wesseldine and Fergus Wheeler have left the firm, for the City arm of King & Spalding.

Wesseldine joined from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in 2013, while Fergus Wheeler was made up to partner after moving from A&L Goodbody in 2014. The pair are both notable for their work for investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Wesseldine advises on a wide range of multi-jurisdictional leveraged buyouts, other complex ‘special situation’ financing and restructuring transactions while Wheeler has experience in all forms of direct lending, hybrid unitranche structures, leveraged acquisition financing and special situations.

King & Spalding London managing partner Garry Pegg said the arrivals almost double the firm’s finance practice in the City, which currently has three partners.

‘We are decently aggressive. This is part of a strategic push to strengthen our transactional practice in London, both in financing and corporate, so Mark and Fergus represent a fantastic fit with our existing M&A, capital markets, finance and private equity expertise. They don’t just do traditional direct lending, but also junior capital transactional credit funds and non-bank lenders areas. It also really fits well with our practice in the US and we have a lot of overlapping clients.

‘As a law firm and as an office, people understand we are on a growth spurt. We have headroom, momentum and we’re going places at a time when the market is a tough, overcrowded place.’

The departures are not the first for Ropes’ London office this year. In April, London based Ropes & Gray partner Chris McGarry left Ropes in favour of White & Case. His clients have included Virgin Media, Trafigura, Shop Direct, Lloyds, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Europcar, Bain Capital Credit, Blackstone/GSO, Investec and Jerrold Holdings.

In one of the biggest blows for the US firm’s City office, in November it emerged that Ropes’ London co-head and office founder Maurice Allen would retire from his role to become a consultant at the firm.

At the same time, it was revealed that Allen would serve as a consultant at DLA Piper to develop the firm’s finance sector strategy. By February, Ropes and Allen both confirmed that they had parted ways.

In May, Linklaters poached Ropes’ restructuring partner James Douglas, in London. A regular adviser to KKR Credit, Bartec and Peermont Group, Douglas joined Ropes in 2010 from New Zealand firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts. He was also previously been a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. In October, the firm hired leading finance lawyer Malcolm Hitching, Herbert Smith Freehills’ former UK and EMEA finance head, to London.

The Atlanta-bred King & Spalding has built a 23-partner London office, putting it just outside the top 40 largest City branches of US parents. The firm generated $1.058bn in the 2016 financial year, with average partner profits just under $2.5m.