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WFW fills chair gap with finance partner as Dunne continues New York push

Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has elected shipping finance partner Nigel Thomas as the firm’s new chairman, taking over from long-serving partner Frank Dunne.

Dunne, who had acted as chairman between 2004 and 2016, moved to WFW’s US office last year.

He said: ‘Nigel is an excellent choice as chairman. He will have my full support as I continue to dedicate my time and energy to the exciting challenges of my new role in New York and in supporting the firm’s world-leading maritime practice.’

Thomas has been with the firm since 1987, specialising in maritime law. During that time, Thomas has led on a number of high-value deals, including advising global shipping company Teekay on its $1.4bn acquisition of AP Moller Maersk’s LNG shipping fleet in 2011 and advising oil company Petroserv Marine in 2015 on consolidating $1.7bn of loans.

Thomas (pictured) said: ‘I’m very much used to being an informal ambassador of the firm in my daily practice, but now with a slightly more formal addition to that as chairman. I want to be a sounding board for people’s concerns that our full-time management team may not necessarily pick up immediately.’

He added: ‘It’s also about supporting our managing partners. We have two managing partners at the firm who are very energetic. I hope to be someone senior they can bounce ideas off.’

In January 2017, WFW landed a role on Shell’s sale of $3.8bn worth of North Sea oil and gas assets, alongside Clifford Chance, Dechert and White & Case.

The LB100 firm has had a solid run of late, growing revenue by 5% to £131.2m for 2015/16, while the firm has already posted a 14% bump for the first half of 2016/17. Revenue for the first six months of the year came in at £67.6m from £59.5m.

Recent additions to the firm include litigator Joshua Sohn join as a partner from Mishcon de Reya along with three associates and one paralegal, while Michael Lubin and Jeffrey Rendin joined the firm’s real estate group as counsel. Lubin moved to Watson Farley from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan where he was a real estate special counsel, while Rendin joins from the office of the New York Attorney General.

Read more: ‘This is not ad hoc’: WFW leadership duo aims to drive City specialist ahead of the pack’