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White & Case steps up private equity march with hires from Clifford Chance and Debevoise

White & Case’s march on the London private equity market has stepped up another gear with the hire of Caroline Sherrell from Clifford Chance and Kenneth Barry from Debevoise & Plimpton.

Sherrell leaves Clifford Chance after nine years at the Magic Circle firm, having been made partner in 2012. Barry, who joins as partner, is currently a senior associate in Debevoise & Plimpton’s London private equity group, departs four years after joining the New York-based firm, following previous stints at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Clifford Chance.

The moves come as part of an aggressive recruitment drive by White & Case to build one of the City’s strongest private equity teams. That mission is centred on former Linklaters duo Ian Bagshaw and Richard Youle, who arrived at the start of 2013 after a six-year stint running that firm’s global private equity team.

Barry’s hire aims to boost White & Case’s frontline private equity deals team, with Sherrell arriving as part of a play to capture the increasing amount of private equity activity in the infrastructure space. There has been a slew of private equity houses raising dedicated infrastructure funds in the past two years, with one of Brazil’s biggest banks Banco Bradesco one of the latest to do so with two new funds created earlier this year, and giants of the market like Axa Private Equity repositioning away from the retail sector to focus more heavily on infrastructure.

Sherrell, who counts France’s Antin Infrastructure Partners as a client at Clifford Chance, will team up with long serving White & Case partner John Cunningham in leading the City private equity team’s push into infrastructure. 

Barry arrives with a focus on building White & Case’s private equity profile in the oil and gas area, with many houses actively hunting deals in that sector following the collapse in oil prices and the resulting need for oil and gas companies to raise cash through sell-offs. He will also work closely with the head of White & Case’s Africa practice, Johannesburg-based banking partner Joshua Siaw, to build the firm’s private equity presence in Africa.

Since arriving at White & Case, Bagshaw and Youle have been instructed on mandates for private equity houses HgCapital, Montagu, CVC, Castik Capital, Rhone Capital, Oaktree, Triton, Mid Europa Partners, Novator and Arle Capital and have led on two high profile buyside deals in Europe this year, the CVC-led consortia acquisition of Alvogen and the ACP/Borealis consortia acquisition of Tank & Rast.