Pannone presses for S&G deal in wake of failed Cobbetts bid

Having previously pursued a merger with the now defunct Cobbetts (as it turned out, a lucky reprieve), Pannone’s current discussions with Australian-listed Slater & Gordon (S&G) are seeing talks over which parts of the Manchester-based firm’s diverse business will be included in any deal.

With the firm effectively split into four limbs: its commercial arm; the private client, clinical negligence and personal injury business; its white label service Affinity; and Connect2Law network, discussions are ongoing as to whether the latter two divisions fit with S&G’s model.

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Ashurst says ‘no’ to Geffen for chairman in surprise election result

Ashurst says ‘no’ to Geffen for chairman in surprise election result

A popular long-term board member with the social skills needed to pull together a newly-merged transcontinental firm, Ashurst’s October announcement that dispute resolution partner Ben Tidswell has been elected chairman, is nonetheless a shock defeat for incumbent firm head Charlie Geffen.

In a simple ‘one partner, one vote’ election, the emergence of Ashurst Australia’s competition and consumer protection partner Peter Armitage as a contender for the top job had turned the election into a three-horse race.

However, Geffen, whose current senior partner title was subsumed by the new chairman role after newly-merged Ashurst Australia revised its corporate strategy in July, was widely expected to be re-elected.

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Linklaters’ private equity ambitions dealt a blow by departures

Linklaters’ private equity ambitions dealt a blow by departures

Linklaters’ now decade-long effort to carve a credible position in the private equity market has been dealt a serious blow as co-heads Ian Bagshaw and Richard Youle leave to join White & Case.

The long-term friends, having started their careers together at Eversheds, had to build the Magic Circle firm’s private equity practice largely from scratch after the departure of Graham White and Raymond McKeeve in 2006 for Kirkland & Ellis.

Youle, who joined the firm in 2001 from SJ Berwin (becoming a partner in 2006), and Bagshaw, who moved across from Clifford Chance in 2007, are credited with building a dedicated team of lawyers whose buyout expertise is supplemented by strong banking, restructuring and high-yield capabilities.

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Strategy review sets expansive course as Mayer Brown aims to galvanise its business

Eight months in the making, Mayer Brown’s revamped international strategy will now see the US law firm re-group around its large international clients and allocate significant resource to providing a more joined up global service in which London is forecast to be key.

The new strategy, put together by the 1,536-lawyer firm’s 12-strong partnership board and eight-member management committee, will see Mayer Brown focus on strengthening its US strongholds in Washington DC, New York and Chicago, as well as its 85-partner London site and Hong Kong office, which launched in 2006 and now houses 170 lawyers, of which 60 are partners. Continue reading “Strategy review sets expansive course as Mayer Brown aims to galvanise its business”

Homeward bound: Burke hands Freshfields’ reins to Aitman as he leaves for Boston-based ArcLight Capital

Homeward bound: Burke hands Freshfields’ reins to Aitman as he leaves for Boston-based ArcLight Capital

‘I’ve held a number of management roles in the firm, which, together with having recently chaired our supervisory body, should help me take on the new role and ensure a smooth transition,’ says Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s new global managing partner David Aitman, as he steps into the sizeable shoes of veteran Ted Burke, following his recent decision to stand down.

Aitman was said to be the standout candidate, having previously chaired Freshfields’ partnership election committee and currently acting as senior elected member of the partnership council.

The competition partner, who will stand as managing partner until the role goes to a vote in 2015, will come off the council to avoid a conflict of interest as a vote on his replacement takes place at the end of this year.

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IT departments a wasted resource in City firms, senior figures say

City law firms are being challenged to revise the way they view their information technology (IT) teams and elevate them to a far more strategic level.

As examined in this month’s special legal tech feature, the role of individuals who manage IT teams is now acknowledged as critical but firms’ thinking about where those departments fit into their hierarchy is often out of touch when compared with new entrants.

At the Innovators in Law ‘By Invitation Only’ (BIO) conference for IT directors in September, speaker Richard Tapp, company secretary and director of legal services for Carillion, told delegates: ‘I don’t think all is lost and the demand for legal services will continue but what will change is the way those services will be delivered and that will involve a greater use of technology.’

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Gordons and A&O on Morrisons panel as L&G cuts roster

Gordons and A&O on Morrisons panel as L&G cuts roster

One of the UK’s largest supermarket chains, Morrisons, last month finalised its first-ever legal panel, with Allen & Overy (A&O), Ashurst, DAC Beachcroft and Eversheds among the firms selected. Selection was overseen by the company’s recently appointed general counsel Mark Amsden.

Forty firms made the long list, which was whittled down to a shortlist of 22. There are 14 firms on the panels. Amsden divided the panel into six categories: employment, property, personal injury, licensing and regulatory as well as one panel covering ‘everything else’ – corporate, commercial, litigation, pensions and intellectual property. One more panel covers Scotland, with DWF and MacRoberts selected.

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Corporate caution as private equity acquisitions and IPOs trickle in

Corporate caution as private equity acquisitions and IPOs trickle in

A wary optimism was the prevailing mood of private equity partners in October, as deals such as the $2.2bn acquisition of Vion Food Group’s gelatine-making subsidiary, Vion Ingredients by private equity house Darling International demonstrated that there is appetite, and funds, for the right kind of asset.

Texas-based Darling used K&L Gates and Clifford Chance (CC), while the Netherlands’ Vion was advised by leading Benelux independent De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek.

K&L Gates fielded an international team, led by Dallas corporate partner Mary Korby and including Frankfurt-based corporate partner Mathias Schulze Steinen and London competition partner Scott Megregian. Continue reading “Corporate caution as private equity acquisitions and IPOs trickle in”

Burns to maintain Clydes’ expansive form as he takes charge of insurance giant

Jaishree Kalia talks to Clyde & Co’s new senior partner as veteran head Payton hands over the baton after 29 years

There are succession issues and succession issues. James Burns, the incoming senior partner at Clyde & Co, is facing the latter category as he takes the helm of the world’s largest legal insurance specialist, which has been one of the most successful UK practices of the last decade and run by a respected figure for nearly three decades.

Two years on from the top-15 firm’s merger with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG), its strategy is to grow its disputes practice, expand internationally (on the back of significant expansion this year) and gear up for its next global management board election.

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Deal watch: Corporate activity in October

Arrow Global IPO

Debevoise & Plimpton and Slaughter and May landed roles on Arrow Global’s initial public offering (IPO). Slaughters was the primary adviser to Arrow Global and its primary shareholder RBS Special Opportunities Fund (RBS), led by corporate partners David Johnson and Richard Smith. The London office of Debevoise, led by David Innes, advised members of the executive committee and other shareholders on its successful IPO last month, which valued the company at £357m. The successful IPO marks a partial exit for RBS, which acquired the company in 2009.

Cleary advises Inter Milan on equity sale

Inter Milan has turned to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton on the sale of equity to International Sports Capital (ISC), which will give ISC a controlling 70% stake in the club. Cleary’s team was led by  Continue reading “Deal watch: Corporate activity in October”