In mid-February, Latham & Watkins confirmed its third London private equity partner hire from Clifford Chance (CC), with Kem Ihenacho set to follow on the heels of global head of private equity David Walker and newly-made up partner Tom Evans.
Ihenacho was co-head of the Magic Circle giant’s Africa practice, but here London head of corporate, Simon Tinkler, talks to Legal Business about CC’s position in the private equity market.
How have the recent partner departures impacted the firm’s private equity practice?
‘In terms of the broader private equity market – there’s a lot of partner movement. We’ve spoken with clients to talk them through it – I don’t think there’s any immediate impact and with two or three good associates coming through and close to partnership, I see us bulking up again.’
How will it affect your client base, considering the market reputation of the partners who have left?
‘Our strategy has always been to be the leading global private equity firm. If you look at key clients, from Cinven to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice to Actis, there’s a significant spread of client types. We’ve always made sure we had a spread of US houses, big London-based houses and mid-market people. What that comprises changes over time.’
What is the strategy going forward?
‘Our strategy won’t change and most existing partners are flat out on work so the younger guys think there’s a good opportunity here. We’ve got a good bunch of rising stars coming through although I’d rather not mention any names because it’s giving recruiters a heads up!’
Do you expect any further departures from the PE team?
‘I don’t expect that. Having the benefit of doing PE for a few years, you do see it as a cyclical thing – there are US firms that invested 20 years ago and disappeared off again.’
Will you look to make any lateral hires?
‘We’re not looking to make any hires – we’ve got 11 partners here and people coming through. We have a good spread. Kem was a part of that and it’s disappointing but he was one of 12.’
Simon Tinkler was speaking to email@example.com
See Comment: Ambition and culture – the key tests CC’s deal team must pass for further analysis of CC’s private equity capability and challenges