Legal Business Blogs

Sidley continues infrastructure push as firms hire in antitrust, finance and funds

Sidley Austin has continued to expand its London energy and infrastructure team with its hire of Ben Thompson from Travers Smith. The new hire enhances the firm’s London offering in this practice, which it strengthened in March last year with the hires of James MacArthur and Ed Freeman from Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Thompson joined Travers as a partner in 2021 after spending nearly six years at Weil, where he worked with MacArthur, as an associate and then a counsel. ‘He’s worked with a number of clients that we continue to work with now’, MacArthur told Legal Business, ‘so the transition should be seamless.’ A year on from joining the firm, MacArthur was proud of his team’s progress. ‘We’re very excited to build the platform’, he said. ‘Our strategy is to grow on a targeted basis – it has to be the right people.’

He continued: ‘It’s very clear in the infrastructure world that you need a specialist finance offering to service your clients properly. It’s become more of a bespoke offering, with a lot of the infra funds themselves now taking on specialist debt people in-house, and they want to be able to speak to advisers that talk their language and have genuine experience in financing infrastructure assets.’

Energy and infrastructure was also a priority for Sidley in the US, lending credence to MacArthur’s depiction of its offering as ‘a global practice’. The firm brought Akin Gump US oil and gas practice head Stephen Boone into its Houston team, following its stateside energy and infrastructure hires of A&O partners Greg Lavigne in New York in November and Andrea Lucan in Los Angeles in December.

Elsewhere in London, Clifford Chance hired Michael Grenfell into its global antitrust group. Grenfell spent more than two decades at Norton Rose Fulbright, including 15 years as a partner, before leaving the firm in December 2013 to join the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in January 2014. At the CMA he served first as senior director, sectoral regulation and concurrency, and then from 2015 to February this year as executive director, enforcement. His hire brings valuable government-side experience to CC’s antitrust bench.

Legal 500 high-yield leading individual Bernd Bohr left Mayer Brown to join the banking and finance team at Norton Rose in London. Bohr is qualified in England and Wales, Germany, and the State of New York, and has experience including working for Allen & Overy and Sullivan & Cromwell in London, Hong Kong, and New York City, as well as a year on secondment to Novartis in Switzerland before joining Mayer Brown as a partner in 2011.

Over in the US, Baker McKenzie has brought O’Melveny & Myers US M&A and PE head Tobias Knapp into its North America transactional practice as New York transactional group co-head.

The hire comes a month after Baker McKenzie hired an eleven-partner transactional team into its Los Angeles office from US firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, and four months after it brought Latham & Watkins’ Eric Schwartzman in to head its private equity practice in California.

The firm also bolstered its global M&A practice by hiring Daniel Dehghanian, who joined the Düsseldorf office from Hogan Lovells. The moves see the firm redouble its efforts in corporate work – a strategy it has pursued despite flatlining on both revenue and profits in the last financial year, when it posted a 4% increase in revenue from projects and M&A.

Also active in New York was Simpson Thacher, which expanded its New York fund transactions team with the hire of Chris Evans from Blackstone. Evans was a managing director on Blackstone’s GP stakes team, and before that his career included roles at Lazard and then JP Morgan, where he served on the corporate and investment bank team as vice president from 2012 to 2016 and then as executive director to 2018.

Back in the City, disputes specialist firm Seladore Legal hired BonelliErede international arbitration focus team lead of counsel Laurence Shore in as a partner. He joined Bonelli in 2017 after his second stint at HSF as a partner, bringing Seladore’s total number of partners to six – all HSF alums.

Finally, Farrer & Co hired Rhian Lewis as its new head of pro bono. She joins the firm as a counsel from Hogan Lovells, where she specialised in pro bono and international human rights law.