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Willkie Farr moves to build City private equity capability with hire of Kirkland duo

New York firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher has moved to build a City buyout practice with the hire of private equity duo Matthew Dean and Claire McDaid from Kirkland & Ellis, which also recently lost Dan Oates to O’Melveny and Myers and Ross Allardice to White & Case.

The arrival of Dean and McDaid takes Willkie Farr up to eight partners in London, where the firm already has corporate, white-collar criminal and civil litigation and tax practices, as it looks to grow its private equity and hedge fund offering across Europe.

Dean is primarily focused on fund formations, leveraged buyouts, financings and venture capital investments and has worked for a broad range of equity sponsors and their portfolio companies, including Bain Capital, Summit Partners, CapVest, MezzVest and HIG Capital.

He led Summit Partners’ acquisition of electronic trading firm Flow Traders in 2008 and HIG Capital’s acquisition of software provider FNZ Limited.

McDaid’s practice, meanwhile, focuses on cross-border private equity and investment transactions, including acquisitions, dispositions, financings and incentive arrangements.

Willkie Farr’s London managing partner Peter Burrell said of McDaid and Dean: ‘They broaden the scope of the international services we offer our multinational clients and will complement our insurance and restructuring practices in London and our private equity and hedge fund practices in continental Europe and New York.’

The pair’s arrival calls into question Willkie Farr’s alliance with Scottish firm Dickson Minto, which has worked on the UK end of private equity deals led by Willkie Farr, however, Thomas Cerabino, Willkie Farr’s co-chairman, said in a statement: ‘We value our relationship with Dickson Minto and expect to work closely with them in future.’

Kirkland lost London private equity partner Allardice – formerly at Dickson Minto – in October 2013 to White & Case and this year lost corporate partner Oates – the European contact for US-headquartered private equity house Francisco Partners – to O’Melveny and Myers, as US rivals seek to expand their City private equity capabilities.