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Vinson & Elkins ramps up City private equity push with hires from Freshfields and Cadwalader

US firm Vinson & Elkins has hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finance partner Ian Frost and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft deal doer Paul Dunbar in an attempt to cash in on the burgeoning City private equity market.

The double hire sees Frost depart Freshfields after 22 years at the Magic Circle firm, the last decade of which he has been a partner. He specialises in leveraged buy-outs and also handles syndicated lending, property financings and restructuring work.

Frost’s finance practice has been built around the firm’s strong private equity group in the City, having worked on the financing of deals for Freshfields’ longstanding clients BC Partners and Permira.

Frost spent seven years in Freshfields’ German practice and led on a €10bn restructuring of luxury car maker Porsche in 2009. On his return to London Frost retained a key role in developing the firm’s practice in Eastern Europe, advising Czech investment company PFF Group on the financing of its €2.5bn purchase of phone network O2’s Czech business from Telefónica in 2013.

Dunbar, a corporate lawyer who handles M&A for private equity and special situations funds, also joins Vinson & Elkins’ London office as a partner. He departs Cadwalader just 13 months after being made a partner at the firm.

Dunbar started his career at Slaughter and May before joining Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in 2006. He has also spent time on secondment at private equity house TPG Capital.

The hires come as Vinson & Elkins makes a renewed push on the London market, moving into new offices in the Walkie Talkie earlier this month.

Vinson & Elkins co-head of private equity Keith Fullenweider said: ‘Growing our London private equity practice is a key element of the firm’s strategy, and Paul fits in perfectly with our team and culture.’

The battle for private equity talent in the City continues, with Mayer Brown sealing the arrival of Reed Smith’s Europe head of private equity Perry Yam earlier this week, and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, Proskauer Rose, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, White & Case and Kirkland & Ellis all growing their teams after making high profile hires last year.

Read more about the London private equity market in the feature: ‘ABC – the brutally simple world of a private equity lawyer.’