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‘We are determined to re-build’: Ashurst brings in ex-Goldman banker to revive US structured finance team

Following the recent blow of a nine-lawyer team walkout from Ashurst’s US offices, the Anglo-Australian firm has hired former managing director at UBS Securities Eric Bothwell to boost the firm’s New York-based collateralised loan obligation (CLO) practice.

With some sixteen years’ experience of working as both an underwriter and a collateral manager at key investment firms, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, Bothwell’s background will bring a new perspective to the role as well as a sizeable contacts book.

‘We are very serious about our CDO [collateralised debt obligation] US practice, and Eric has lots of ideas on how to bring the business back to where it was. We never like to lose good partners but we are determined to re-build and with the experience and high calibre of partners in London, we have been able to bring back work fairly quickly,’ Ashurst’s global head of securities and derivatives Michael Logie told Legal Business. ‘Certain firms are going to write cheques to get the right people, so we need to ensure we are competitive and can compete at the general market level.’

Bothwell, who is admitted to the New York Bar, joins Ashurst as a senior consultant and is reunited with the firm’s US head Bill Gray – both having previously worked at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where Bothwell was an associate from 1993 to 1994.

Ashurst’s New York CLO practice was heavily dented after its former US managing partner and finance partner Eugene Ferrer based in New York and global co-head of the securities and derivatives group, Scott Faga, based in Washington DC, alongside three counsel and four associates exited the firm for Paul Hastings in July. The US firm also hired Ashurst’s banking partner Luke McDougall in London in a bid to bulk up its English and US law finance practice in April.

The City stalwart’s US CLO practice now houses derivatives partner Gray alongside finance partner Patrick Quill, making Bothwell the third senior lawyer part of the firm’s New York CLO capability. The firm is also planning to relocate some of its finance associates in London to New York.

Gray said: ‘Eric has been a part of the CLO market almost from its inception and has experienced its growth and change through a variety of cycles. He brings a perspective on the market that few lawyers have.’

Bothwell was vice president at Goldman Sachs for over eight years from 1997 to 2006 in New York, where he was a founding member of the bank’s CLO team. During his tenure, he oversaw all aspects of transaction structuring, execution and marketing.

He then worked as managing director at hedge fund Ellington Management Group for four years, during which he also served as chief operating officer of Ellington Financial – where he ran a team of portfolio managers and analysts focused on managing leveraged loans in both hedge fund and CLO formats.

In 2010, Bothwell moved on to work as a managing director at UBS Securities till 2014 and was involved in the sale and unwind of the bank’s non-core asset portfolios towards the end of his tenure.

Bothwell commented: ‘Given my background, I want to approach this opportunity like I would a business. We are a little small given the recent departures and would like to be bigger, but there is a certain level of confidence and comfort that people have based on previous relationships.’

Ashurst revealed a drop in both firmwide revenues and profits per equity partner (PEP) following a ‘year of consolidation and significant investment’, including a global strategic review, after revenues came in at £561m, down by 4%, while PEP was down 7% to £747,000.