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Spring hires: KWM and A&O bolster core City teams with notable recruits

International heavyweights King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) and Allen & Overy (A&O) have ushered in spring by today (2 March) unveiling notable new recruits to their London operations from Global 100 rivals.

KWM has secured the hire of two experienced projects partners in London, adding Linklaters’ James Douglass and DLA Piper’s Ian Wood to its ranks.

Douglass leaves Linklaters after 16 years as a partner in its global projects group. He returns to London from Beijing, where he has spent the last three years leading the development of Linklaters’ China energy and project finance practice. He has also worked for the Magic Circle firm’s Hong Kong office.

He is well known for his work with Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, a consortium owned by Gazprom, Mitsubishi and Shell, extracting gas off the east coast of Russia. He returns to the firm after having previously been an associate at Mallesons. Linklaters confirmed that Douglass had requested to return to London in the summer of 2014 and continue working with his Asia-based clientele but the request was turned down.

Wood joins after eight years as a partner at DLA Piper, where he founded the firm’s nuclear practice. Previously he was in-house counsel at British Nuclear Fuels for six years and a tenant at 8 King Street Chambers. He is one of the UK’s most respected nuclear energy specialists and his longstanding clients include Uranium Asset Management, British Nuclear Fuels, Sellafield, Magnox and Westinghouse.

Neil Upton, head of projects, energy and resources for KWM in London, said: ‘Ian will help us grow one of our areas of focus – power – and nuclear power in a carbon-constrained world is key to this. The nuclear market – waste management, decommissioning and new build – has massive potential, growing in the UK and in a multitude of other jurisdictions, particularly the Middle East.

‘James joins us to focus on oil, gas and power projects globally, with a particular emphasis on our banking clients. As we continue to help our Chinese clients invest globally, and our global clients invest in China and with the energy market in China opening up to foreign investment at a rapid rate, James is joining us at a perfect time.’

Meanwhile, Allen & Overy has boosted its European high-yield practice with the hire of counsel Matthias Baudisch from US firm Cravath Swaine & Moore as a partner. Matthias joins the group, headed by Kevin Muzilla, as the practice looks to grow its leveraged finance bond and loan products offering under both English and New York law.

Baudisch leaves Cravath after 13 years, first joining the firm as an associate in 2002. He was made a senior lawyer in 2010 and then European counsel in 2012. He has experience in both London and New York, although he was based at the Cravath’s London office. He has previously represented underwriters including BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Nomura, as well as private equity houses, including EQT, Lindsay Goldberg and Permira as issuers.

‘Matthias is an excellent hire for us,’ said Muzilla. ‘We’re seeing positive developments unfold in the high-yield space, relating to both new issuers and existing issuers’ financing requirements. As European issuance is moving at a faster pace than in the US, we are ensuring we have the necessary resources and expertise to deal with an unprecedented level of client demand.’

Stephen Kensell, co-head of A&O’s global banking practice added: ‘His experience will complement our growing practice, putting us in the advantageous position of being able to offer the full range of leveraged finance bond and loan products under both English and New York law. This is a requirement our clients are looking for and our experience tells us that it will become ever-more important in the coming year as market participants look to high yield as a viable financing option.’

Baudisch is the latest lateral hire for A&O’s European high yield practice, which recently added partners Marc Plepelits, who joined from Shearman & Sterling in January in Frankfurt; and Jake Keaveny, who joined from Cahill Gordon & Reindel in May last year in London.,