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Upping the ante: Latham appoints former A&O leadership contender Kensell

Latham & Watkins‘ unrelenting assault on the City market has seen the US firm land one of London’s most high-profile banking lawyers, Allen & Overy’s Stephen Kensell.

Kensell, who earlier this year ran for the senior partner post at A&O but missed out to the firm’s then managing partner Wim Dejonghe in March, leaves after 22 years at the Magic Circle firm. The management reshuffle took effect on 1 May, with Dejonghe replacing highly respected David Morley as senior partner and corporate co-head Andrew Ballheimer made managing partner.

One of the most senior banking lawyers in the City, Kensell co-headed A&O’s banking group between 2008 and 2016. He and Andrew Trahair stepped down as co-heads of A&O’s engine-room practice earlier this year having served two terms.

Kensell has emerged as one of the City’s foremost banking practitioners over the last two decades, acting on the creditor-side of event-driven financings, with particular expertise in leveraged, investment grade M&A and IPO related finance.

Latham London managing partner Jay Sadanandan said: ‘We have firmly established ourselves among the elite firms for high-end leveraged and acquisition financing work in London, thanks to our unique ability to switch between all forms of loan, bond and hybrid capital structures across multiple jurisdictions. Stephen’s wide-ranging experience at the very top of the profession will further enhance our platform in the City and globally.’

The move is the latest in a long line of high-profile hires for Latham, with the firm landing rising arbitration star Sophie Lamb from Debevoise & Plimpton, restructuring partner Simon Baskerville and financial regulatory partner Rob Moulton from Ashurst and real estate finance specialists Jeremy Trinder and Quentin Gwyer this year.