HSF sees more City departures but secures German launch

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has been hit by a string of key departures from its lucrative disputes practice.

Simon Bushell, who co-chaired the corporate fraud and asset tracing group at HSF, is set to join Latham & Watkins’ City office imminently. His departure marks the fourth high-profile litigation exit since the start of the year after Martyn Hopper, who was head of the firm’s successful financial services regulation practice, and Nikunj Kiri both left for Linklaters in January.

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Litigation market polarised as Jackson reforms take effect

With the Jackson reforms recently instigated, the market is divided about how the introduction of damages-based agreements (DBAs) will impact the litigation market.

Under the reforms, which came into effect on 1 April, litigators will be allowed to accept cases under DBAs for the first time. However, litigators say the lack of clarity about how the new rules work will inhibit their use.

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SJ Berwin is latest international arrival in Luxembourg

SJ Berwin is latest international arrival in Luxembourg

SJ Berwin announced the opening of its twelth office in Luxembourg at the start of the year, in what was described as an ‘obvious’ choice of jurisdiction for the firm given the strength of its European fund formation practice.

The firm launched its office through the hire of two new partners: former Allen & Overy (A&O) lawyer Alexandrine Armstrong-Cerfontaine and tax specialist Geoffrey Scardoni, from Benelux firm Loyens & Loeff. Armstrong-Cerfontaine said the new office would focus on corporate, finance, private equity, funds and tax, and concentrate on building its relationships across the region.

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TNK-BP takeover saga ends in largest Russian deal ever

The ongoing battle over what was to become of Russian oil joint venture (JV) TNK-BP finally concluded at the end of 2012, in one of the largest M&A deals of the year. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Linklaters all played lead roles on TNK-BP’s multibillion-dollar sale to Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft in December.

The deal has made Rosneft, advised by Cleary, the largest listed oil company in the world. However BP, represented by Linklaters, still has an almost 20% stake in the company after negotiating a cash plus shares sale worth $27bn. Continue reading “TNK-BP takeover saga ends in largest Russian deal ever”

General counsel pay still bolstered by bonus culture

The bonus, not the pay rise, was how companies rewarded the efforts of their general counsel (GC) in 2012. This reflects a changing rewards system for GCs, and caution from the managers who employ them.

These are the findings from two recent studies on wages for in-house lawyers. The first survey from UK employment research organisation, Incomes Data Services (IDS), showed average pay increases fell below the retail prices index last year.

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No let up for Libor claims as FSA issues record fines

With the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issuing a record £300m of total fines in the UK in 2012, up from £65.5m in 2011, litigation teams in the City are predicting a further surge in banking litigation in 2013 thanks to the Libor scandal.

Barclays’ fine of £59.9m in June was dwarfed by UBS’ £160m fine in December. Clifford Chance and Sullivan & Cromwell were brought in to advise Barclays, while Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher advised UBS in both the US and the UK.

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RPC expands corporate practice with partner hires

RPC has beefed up its corporate practice with the hire of three of Wragge & Co’s heavyweight partners as it targets more mid-sized deals for the largest FTSE 100 and 250 companies and multinational businesses.

The City Domestic firm hired Wragges’ former managing partner Richard Haywood and corporate head Maurice Dwyer. The duo joined fellow partner David Marshall at the beginning of the year.

Haywood was managing partner at Wragges from 2003 until 2006 and was also the firm’s corporate head. Most recently, he advised Premier Foods on the £182m sale of its canning division to Princes Foods. Continue reading “RPC expands corporate practice with partner hires”

Herbies and Hogan Lovells win places on Land Securities panel

Land Securities has appointed Herbert Smith Freehills and Hogan Lovells to its revamped legal panel following a year-long review that ended in January. The largest commercial property company in the UK now has nine external law firms on its roster.

Group general counsel and company secretary Adrian de Souza has organised his law firms into two main panels, with Berwin Leighton Paisner, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hogan Lovells and Nabarro placed on panel A, while panel B comprises Dundas & Wilson and Herbert Smith Freehills. There is also an additional specialist panel that contains Allen & Overy for finance and Clifford Chance for corporate work.

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Parabis Group storms into Scottish insurance market

Private equity backed Parabis Group recently entered the Scottish legal insurance market with a bold statement of intent, hiring local rival HBJ Claim Solutions’ litigation head Tony O’Malley in the process.

Parabis, an alternative business structure in England and Wales, has opened a single-partner-regulated law office known as Parabis Scotland. It will offer claimant and defendant insurance law services with the defendant branch carrying its Plexus Law brand.

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Ashurst expansion continues full throttle

Ashurst’s recent appetite for international expansion shows no sign of abating, with the firm announcing in November the launch of a new operation in Saudi Arabia.

The firm will soon be able to practise Saudi law after establishing a partnership with Faisal Adnan Baassiri, the former head of legal at Ashurst client Saudi Economic and Development Company (Sedco).

Baassiri has experience working in private practice: he worked at Osama S. Al-Yamani law firm in Jeddah, where the Ashurst office will open under the official name of Law Office of Faisal Baassiri in association with Ashurst. Continue reading “Ashurst expansion continues full throttle”