The hire comes one month after high-yield heavyweight Ward McKimm quit the US firm to join Freshfields and become co-head of its European leveraged finance group.
Steele was Freshfields’ relationship partner for The Blackstone Group and Goldman Sachs, and spent 12 months in the leveraged finance team at Goldman Sachs in 2010. His client base covers financial sponsors, funds and financial institutions, advising them on complex and cross-border financing transactions, including leveraged finance, special situations investing, loan portfolio acquisitions and restructurings.
Deal highlights include advising Blackstone on its acquisition of the €1.8bn Project Tower loan portfolio from NAMA; representing Cinven on its acquisition of Heidelberger Leben; and acting for CVC and BC Partners on their bid for BSN Medical.
He joined the Magic Circle firm in February 2008 as a senior associate and was promoted to the partnership in April 2012.
Kirkland’s chairman Jeffrey Hammes said: ‘Michael is recognized as one of the top finance lawyers in the market and has developed a strong reputation for handling complex transactions, particularly on the sponsor side. His joining the firm reflects our continued commitment to building our leading European finance platform.’
In early June, Kirkland saw the exit of a trio of funds partners, led by Mark Mifsud, to Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.