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Travers departures continue as Linklaters and Fried Frank pick off transactional trio

In another blow for Travers Smith, respected corporate M&A and ECM partner Richard Spedding has left to join Linklaters, on the back of the departure of a private equity duo to Goodwin late last month.

A Legal 500 Hall of Famer for small to mid-cap equity capital markets, Spedding was at Travers or 25 years. Experienced in public M&A and the UK Takeover Code, Spedding recently co-led the firm’s team advising key private equity client Inflexion on its £342m takeover of DWF.

At the end of April Travers also lost private equity duo Ian Keefe and George Weavil, with the pair joining Goodwin’s London base. Both Weavill and Keefe had been at Travers since qualification in 2011, making partner in 2018.

Travers sustained a number of other high profile partner loses in 2023, including its former head of private equity Ian Shawyer, who joined Cleary in May, M&A tax head Jessica Kemp, who joined White & Case in February, secondaries transactions specialists Ed Ford and Sacha Gofton-Salmond, who moved to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in February, and PE partner Genna Marten (to Linklaters) and financial services partner Samuel Kay (to Dechert) in March.

Elsewhere, Clifford Chance has bolstered its equity derivatives and structured products offering with the addition of former Allen & Overy partner Daniel Shurman. Moving shortly after the completion of the A&O Shearman merger on 1 May, Shurman focuses on structuring and executing strategic equity solutions.

In other magic circle moves, Charles Magoffin left Freshfields as a pension partner for a position as senior counsel at Slaughter and May. In his new role, he will maintain his focus advising employers, pension scheme trustees, financial investors, and institutions on various aspects of defined benefit pension schemes, including restructuring, insolvency, de-risking, liability management and risk transfer.

Linklaters has seen Savi Hebbur depart for the global M&A practice at White & Case. Hebbur leaves the magic circle firm after more than 18 years, notably serving as the head of corporate for the India group. His practice primarily focuses on advising international companies and sponsors on their transactions in India, as well as guiding Indian corporates through international M&A deals across various sectors such as energy and healthcare.

Freshfields, meanwhile, hired Legal 500 mid-large-cap ECM leading individual David Boles into its ECM practice. Boles, who leaves Cooley after four years, also spent a chunk of his career at Latham & Watkins. He will work alongside London-based partners Chris Mort, Doug Smith, Tom Godwin to ‘drive forward’ the firm’s ECM practice, according to the firm.

Moving in the opposite direction, Cooley has hired Norton Rose’s London head of antitrust and competition Mark Simpson.

Speaking to Legal Business about his move, Simpson said: ‘Firstly, the strength of Cooley’s client base in the tech and related industries is very attractive. It is second to none, acting for big tech companies as well as startups, and the firm’s relationships are well-established. Secondly is the emphasis that the firm has put on growing its offering in the competition space and building on its award-winning team in Europe and the US. Thirdly, it has an excellent litigation team in London.’

Caroline Hobson, a fellow partner in Cooley’s antitrust and competition practice, added: ‘Mark’s recruitment is part of a broader strategy to grow the European and global antitrust team and ensure we’ve got the broad range of skills to assist our clients, many of which in tech and life sciences are in the crosshairs of increased antitrust scrutiny.’

McDermott Will & Emery has appointed Fatema Orjela to its transactions practice. Orjela joins the firm from Sidley and is a Legal 500 leading individual for mid-market private equity transactions, as well as a featured mid-tier deal star from LB’s ‘Alphas Revisited’ feature last year.

Orjela has a pan-European cross-sector practice, with experience advising on joint ventures, structured and minority equity investments, leveraged buyouts and strategic mergers and acquisitions. The move reunites Orjela with her former Kirkland colleague Graham White, who moved from Fried Frank to McDermott last month.

‘There were various pulls’, Orjela told Legal Business. ‘Firstly, it was reconnecting with Graham, who used to be a leader of mine when we were at Kirkland together. In some ways I’ve been on a growth journey with Graham, and I know our values align when it comes to technical excellence, how we serve clients, and the cultural issues of how an office should be managed. Secondly, I was blown away by McDermott. The firm has been quiet about what it’s been doing over the past few years in the European market, but it’s experienced five-year plus growth and has an incredible European footprint and many shared clients and synergies for me. The thought of being in an environment that has that dynamism and entrepreneurialism is exciting.’

Over in restructuring, Paul Hastings brought Shearman & Sterling counsel Tom McKay into its restructuring practice as a partner. The move sees the firm continue to build in restructuring after it brought over KKR’s European head of restructuring William Needham and Akin partner Jessica Ling in February, following last year’s hire of Helena Potts, also from Shearman.

Dentons has also made strategic moves in restructuring by welcoming back partner Sue Moore to lead its UK, Ireland, and Middle East restructuring and insolvency practice, where her career began. After initially departing the firm in 2011, she spent nine years as a partner at Stephenson Harwood, followed by a stint at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath. Moore is recognised in the Legal 500 rankings for corporate restructuring and insolvency. Dentons also strengthened its disputes team in London with the hire of Freshfields ESG litigation and regulatory partner Alex McGregor.

Elsewhere in the City, investment funds partner Shawn D’Aguiar moved over to join Debevoise & Plimpton in London. Leaving behind Goodwin after seven years, D’Aguiar’s practice focuses on fund structuring and formation, along with advising clients on various fund strategies such as impact and sustainable investing, as well as incentive and carried interest schemes.

Also in London, Nina Howell left King & Spalding for the energy and natural resources group at Reed Smith. Howell joined K&S from Bracewell in April 2022, and is a Legal 500 next generation partner for oil and gas. She specialises in LNG and has experience advising on issues from financing and development to sales and transportation.

‘Reed Smith approached me and it felt like too good an opportunity to miss’, Howell told Legal Business, pointing to the firm’s strong energy sector client base as well as her eagerness to work with LNG specialist James Atkin, who joined Reed Smith from Orrick in 2020.

Howell was also optimistic about the state of the LNG market. ‘After the Russian invasion of Ukraine it became very clear that LNG is going to be a big part of the energy future’, she said. ‘A lot of the big US projects that hadn’t been commercially viable became viable. They’re expanding into Europe, and the buyers are there.’

In litigation, Pinsent Masons has hired litigation and investigations partner Melanie Ryan for its global investigations group in London. Ryan joins from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius where she spent six years, and focuses on financial crime and related civil disputes.

On her move, Ryan told LB: ‘The biggest piece of litigation that London has ever seen is the SKAT fraud litigation which is before the High Court, and that’s being handled by Pinsent Masons. Litigation, regulatory enforcement and investigations are very much at the forefront of its strategy and that’s one of the reasons why it was an attractive proposition for me. There’s a lot of synergies between what I do and historically have done, and what Pinsent Masons is doing and seeking to do as well. The cradle-to-grave servicing offering of the firm is also a major draw. ’

Head of regulatory and investigations Tom Stocker also said: ‘When we looked at our business plan and what we were seeing in terms of market growth, we saw that Melanie fitted the bill perfectly for us. She has this really unique practice that blends regulatory enforcement, financial crime and litigation expertise together. Melanie’s City and cross-border experience is extremely valuable with London being such an important international market.’