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Watson Farley hires Fried Frank London duo to launch structured finance practice

In a ‘strategic play’ to build its debt capital markets offering, Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has hired a pair of finance partners from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson’s City office.

Partners Rob McBride and Sian Withey have joined WFW, against the tide of laterals joining Fried Frank’s London offering, tasked with building a debt securities and structured finance practice.

The pair will look to advise investment banks and other financial institutions as well as clients in energy and infrastructure, maritime, natural resources, transport and real estate practices.

‘The use of wider debt capital markets and structured finance products is becoming more prevalent within the energy, maritime and aviation sectors, making the addition of Rob and Siân a key element of the firm’s plans to access new markets and drive further growth,’ a firm statement said today (10 June).

Both are recommended by The Legal 500 for derivatives and structured products with McBride acknowledged for advising BNP Paribas’ equity financing group while Withey is cited as advising clients including BlueRidge Capital and Merck & Co on new market regulations.

WFW managing partner Chris Lowe said: ‘This is a key strategic play for the firm because we identified debt capital markets as an area where we needed to add strength. The arrival of two partners of Rob and Siân’s background and experience allows us to offer clients across our key sectors a wider range of financing options. It also allows us to develop a broader, self-supporting debt securities, structured finance and derivatives practice.’

Fried Frank has been building its own capabilities in London, and recently hired Kirkland & Ellis funds trio Mark Mifsud, Kate Downey and Alexandra Conroy in May, as well as Hogan Lovells finance partner Stuart Brinkworth, and private equity partner Daniel Oates from O’Melveny & Myers in January.