Legal Business Blogs

Simpson Thacher taps Freshfields for M&A heavyweight Spiers

Wall Street leader Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has made a rare London hire after recruiting high-profile Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ben Spiers to boost its M&A practice.

Spiers’ practice focuses on public and private mergers and acquisitions, securities and corporate restructurings, particularly within the TMT sector. Recent mandates include advising Hewlett-Packard Enterprises on the sale of its software business for $8.8bn to UK tech firm Micro Focus, and acting for SoftBank this summer on its £23.4bn deal to acquire UK tech flagbearer ARM Holdings, the largest public M&A deal in the UK in 2016 so far.

Spiers, who spent five years heading up Freshfields’ TMT group, also served as relationship partner for Air Products, Hewlett-Packard, BT, MTN and Smith & Nephew, while other clients include Sony, Motability Operations, Axel Springer, Morgan Stanley and FMC Corporation. He spent two periods on secondment during his time at the Magic Circle law firm: the first to Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto and the second, as a partner, to Morgan Stanley’s UK investment banking division.

Despite generally avoiding the level of departures seen by many peers, Freshfields has seen a number of notable partner departures in the last 12 months from its international offices. In April a four-partner Paris team including employment head Emmanuel Benard departed for US firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, while New York based executive partner Michael Lacovara quit for Latham & Watkins in June.

The appointment comes amid a period of explosive UK growth for Simpson Thacher, which has built up a profitable business around the firm’s core private equity and funds clients in the City. The firm’s 17-partner London practice now generates over £100m.

Bill Dougherty, chair of Simpson Thacher’s executive committee, said: ‘Ben is one of England’s leading M&A lawyers. His skills and experience will be of great benefit to our clients in the UK, continental Europe and globally.’

Spiers said: ‘My career at Freshfields has been hugely rewarding and varied, acting for great clients alongside first class lawyers. However, joining Simpson Thacher is a unique opportunity and one I am looking forward to immensely.’

See ‘Global London: The Barbarians storming the gate of City deal work’ for more on the UK corporate ambitions of Simpson Thacher and its Wall Street peers. (£)