Legal Business

Ashurst launches consulting arm to handle Covid-19 demand with Deloitte partner hire

Ashurst launches consulting arm to handle Covid-19 demand with Deloitte partner hire

Ashurst has launched a consulting business with the hire of a senior Deloitte partner in Australia to deal with growing client demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm said today (31 March) it had hired Philip Hardy, a partner at the Big Four consultancy since 2008 and head of its Australian governance, regulation and conduct advisory business. The resulting Ashurst Consulting will initially be offered in Australia and will advise clients on minimising risk, manage change and bolstering business performance.

The risk advisory part of the business led by Hardy launched today, with more partners expected to join in the coming months. It will focus on regulatory compliance, conduct and risk management, initially targeted at financial services clients.

It follows on from the launch on 1 March of a board advisory service for leadership and governance issues, spearheaded by Joshua Smith.

Ashurst global managing partner Paul Jenkins (pictured) said: ‘His experience looking after businesses during the GFC and in the aftermath will be an asset to the global firm and our partners, who will be advising our clients through the multitude of effects Covid-19 is having on their businesses.’

Prior to the coronavirus making itself properly felt in global markets, Ashurst had been making a sustained investment in its European corporate practice, earlier this month hiring high-growth and tech lawyer Jonathan Cohen from Clyde & Co the day after adding Fabio Niccoli from CDP Equity in Milan.

Market turmoil notwithstanding, Ashurst has enjoyed a stronger period than most as firms hunker down to withstand inevitable market reversals. Last year, on the back of three consecutive years of growth, the firm added £77m to its top line to hit £641m for the year to 30 April 2019, a significant 14% increase on the £564m turnover of the previous year. PEP has also soared 31% to £972,000 from last year’s £743,000, putting Ashurst within sight of its stated intention of smashing the £1m PEP barrier this financial year.

 nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ashurst ramps up corporate investment with City tech partner and Milan PE head

Ashurst ramps up corporate investment with City tech partner and Milan PE head

Ashurst has fired up its corporate hiring drive by adding a second corporate partner in as many days in the form of high-growth and tech lawyer Jonathan Cohen from Clyde & Co.

The London hire comes hot on the heels of yesterday’s recruitment of Fabio Niccoli from CDP Equity, where he was general counsel, to lead the firm’s private equity offering in Milan.

Cohen had been at Clydes since 2017, most recently as a legal director. He advises on private M&A, fundraisings, private equity, commercial contracts, restructuring, and general corporate and commercial matters. Clients include high growth technology focused businesses across the financial, health, renewables, education, engineering and software sectors.

Ashurst head of corporate Karen Davies said: ‘[Cohen’s] experience will be a great complement to the work we are undertaking in building our high growth & VC team, led by Tara Waters. Jonathan’s strong credentials within the space will help us to even further accelerate the growth of our technology focused practice, alongside our strong M&A capabilities.’

Meanwhile in Milan, Niccoli, who had been CDP’s GC since 2012, was responsible for setting up the entire legal structure of the business. He has advised on a number of high-end private M&A and private equity deals, with a focus on the Italian mid-cap market. He began his career at Bonelli Erede Pappalardo.

He has also worked at Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners, before joining the newly-founded firm, Labruna Mazziotti Segni, contributing to its start-up and becoming a partner in the M&A and private equity practice.

Ashurst Milan office managing partner Carloandrea Meacci said: ‘This is a significant development for our practice in Milan – we are able to offer first-rate private equity expertise to complement our market-leading offering in all areas of infrastructure and energy M&A.’

The moves come after Jason Radford, Ashurst’s global head of corporate, last October vowed to redouble the firm’s hiring efforts for corporate, with London, France, Italy and Germany all cited as areas of intended investment.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ashurst enters US West Coast with four-lawyer Santa Monica projects play

Ashurst enters US West Coast with four-lawyer Santa Monica projects play

Ashurst has launched a four-lawyer transport and infrastructure-focused base in Santa Monica, its second US office after New York.

The firm announced today (25 February) that projects partner Anna Hermelin has relocated from the firm’s Tokyo office to become managing partner of the new West Coast operations in the Los Angeles County.

The new outpost, staffed by Hermelin and three California-qualified Ashurst associates, will focus on projects and project finance work in the transport and social infrastructure sectors. Ashurst aims to grow the team to between seven and ten lawyers within a year.

A spokesperson for Ashurst said the launch was a reflection of mandates on the West Coast having increased significantly and was ‘aligned to the firm’s ambitions in terms of its projects, project finance and infrastructure offering’.

Hermelin told Legal Business that the firm was already working with clients including LA Metro and that the upcoming 2028 Los Angeles Olympics were ‘a strong driver for a number of infrastructure projects.’

She said that the choice of Santa Monica over downtown Los Angeles was ‘purely logistical’: ‘It’s closer to where people live and we can drive [into LA] if we have client meetings.’

California has gathered increasing attention from international law firms in the last few years, although interest has mainly been focused on the booming Bay Area tech scene rather than the Los Angeles surroundings.

Some point to a growing gap between the North and the South of the state, with fewer financial institutions and public companies based around Los Angeles compared to a decade ago and reverberations across the legal industry. New York royalty Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, for example, has reduced its LA headcount in recent years and is planning to move to smaller premises when its current lease expires in 2021.

Others however point to the growing strength of the media and entertainment scene around LA’s Century City district, with Latham & Watkins launching locally in 2014 and Paul Hastings following suit in March 2018. The burgeoning tech scene around the area ambitiously dubbed Silicon Beach, between LA and Santa Monica, is also getting more attention from investors, with Boston-bred Goodwin launching in Santa Monica last year.

Other firms to open Southern California bases recently include Baker McKenzie in March 2018 and Clyde & Co in July 2017.

The launch of Ashurst’s second US base after New York follows the firm posting robust financials in 2018/19, with revenue rising 14% to £641m and profits per equity partner soaring 31% to £972,000. The firm has made considerable headway in New York in recent years having built out a generative government-side infrastructure advisory offering.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

For more on Ashurst’s unlikely rebound, see Inflection point (£) 

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Ashurst appoints planning co-head as Eversheds bolsters its City commercial practice

Revolving doors: Ashurst appoints planning co-head as Eversheds bolsters its City commercial practice

In a slower week than usual for City laterals, Ashurst appointed a co-head of its planning team as Eversheds Sutherland made hires in London and Hong Kong and Clyde & Co lost a partner in Edinburgh.

Ashurst hired real estate partner Claire Dutch as co-head of the firm’s planning team in London. She joined from Hogan Lovells where she was head of the planning team, focusing on planning law, highway law and heritage law. Dutch also has experience in managing major regeneration projects, including energy and waste projects.

Meanwhile, Eversheds hired partner Simon Lightman to its commercial practice from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in London.

Lightman has experience in commercial, technology and data transactions with a focus on restructuring and renegotiation of legacy outsourcing arrangements as well as outsourcing deals and procurements. He has acted for customers and suppliers in the financial services sector as well as retail, telecommunications and aviation.

Eversheds also appointed Shepherd and Wedderburn’s banking and finance litigation head to its Edinburgh office.

Frood advises on personal injury, professional negligence, fraud and contentious trust. He has worked with retail banks, building societies and major clearing banks as well as with funders, insurers, auditors and advisers.

These appointments follow a number of recent lateral hires in the litigation & disputes practice including litigation partner Mark Hughes in Hong Kong in October, commercial dispute resolution partner Claire Stockford in London in July and real estate litigation partner Tekla Fellas in London in March.

Partner and head of the technology group Simon Gamlin told Legal Business: ‘We’ve been looking to grow our technology practice particularly in London for the last 18 months. Simon’s practice covers general commercial and technology transactions and that includes traditional IT outsourcing arrangements but also newer more disruptive technologies.

‘We have a steady flow of work in the financial services sector which Simon has expertise in, particularly in banking but he also offers opportunities across a range of other sectors particularly retail and telecoms,’ added Gamlin.

Partner and head of real estate dispute resolution, North at Eversheds Damian Hyndman told Legal Business: ‘Alastair provides us with a great opportunity to consolidate and expand our litigation offering in Scotland. He shares our drive and ambition. He is a talented all round litigator with a particular reputation for banking, finance and insolvency litigation, which complements our existing senior team well. He has demonstrated an ability to successfully grow teams, show strong leadership and he fits in well with the firm’s culture, which is incredibly important. We think his strong personal brand and reputation will help us to grow our global brand in Scotland.’

In another reversal for Clydes, partner Calum Mathieson has left the firm’s Edinburgh office to join Plexus Law. Mathieson acts on complex and large loss employer, public and product liability claims on behalf of insurers and has experience in managing health and safety prosecutions on behalf of corporate insurers.

Mathieson told Legal Business: ‘Plexus is a forward thinking, progressive firm. I’m here to concentrate on developing some of the relationships I already have with a number of insurers.’

‘Partners from Kennedy’s moved across this year and I’ll be working with them in terms of developing the good connections Plexus already has, particularly in the London market,’ added Mathieson.

Elsewhere, DLA Piper added Stephen Wong to its litigation and regulatory practice in Hong Kong. Wong joined the firm from Stevenson, Wong & Co where he was a partner since 2015. Wong has experience in regulation and corporate matters, particularly in regulatory and criminal investigations in connections with commercial crimes.

Head of DLA’s litigation and regulatory practice in Asia Kevin Chan commented: ‘Stephen’s hire is part of our continued investment in the regulatory space in Asia. Our clients increasingly require solutions which help them meet their compliance obligations, as well as manage risk. Stephen’s skillset and experience will be a valuable asset to our team, and will enable us to deepen our relationships with existing and new clients.’

Finally, Paul Hastings added capital markets partner Chaobo Fan from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to its Hong Kong office. Fan has a particular focus on securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions and has experience advising Chinese companies on their listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Chair of Paul Hastings Seth Zachary commented: ‘We’re meeting our clients’ demand for help with increasingly complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions. The arrival of top talent like Chaobo adds further depth to our capital markets practice in Hong Kong, one of the world’s premier listing markets.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Slaughters and Ashurst make headlines on i newspaper sale as DLA and A&O dine out on Bookatable acquisition

Dealwatch: Slaughters and Ashurst make headlines on i newspaper sale as DLA and A&O dine out on Bookatable acquisition

In a busy week for UK buyouts, Slaughter and May advised Daily Mail and General Trust on the £49.6m acquisition from JPIMedia of i newspaper and its website by its consumer media business, DMG Media.

The Slaughters team was led by corporate partner Rebecca Cousin while an Ashurst  team led by corporate partner Braeden Donnelly advised JPIMedia Group.

Donnelly told Legal Business: ‘The sale of the i newspaper to Daily Mail was a significant first step for JPIMedia in realising value for bondholders. It is also part of a wider trend we are seeing in the UK print media market where consolidation is picking up pace as media owners respond to slowing print sales and increased competition from online alternatives.’

The deal was completed on 29 November. Ashurst previously advised Johnston Press on its acquisition of the i newspaper business from Independent Print Limited in 2016.

Meanwhile, DLA Piper advised Michelin on the sale of London-headquartered restaurant reservation business Bookatable to TripAdvisor company TheFork.

The acquisition allows competitor TheFork to consolidate in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Finland and Norway meaning that 14,000 restaurants on Bookatable will join the 67,000 restaurants available on TheFork.

The DLA team was led by London partner Tim Wright and Paris partner Simon Charbit while an Allen & Overy team led by Richard Browne advised TripAdvisor.

The acquisition follows Michelin’s content and licensing partnership with TripAdvisor and its subsidiary TheFork. The partnership means that Michelin guide inspectors will be grading restaurants according to the ‘stars, bib gourmand and Michelin plate’ on the TripAdvisor and TheFork websites. 4,000 restaurants in Europe will also be available on TheFork and the Michelin Guide’s digital platform.

French firm Gide advised Michelin on the partnership with a team led by partner Guillaume Rougier-Brierre.

Elsewhere, Travers Smith has advised New York Stock Exchange-listed company Noble Corporation on the acquisition of its 50%interest in the Bully I and Bully II drillship joint ventures by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell for a value of $166m.

Shell will pay a final cash settlement of roughly $59m of to Noble for its two drillships. Nobel, which owns and operates fleets in the offshore drilling industry, issued a note payable to Shell which satisfied a portion of the buyout price.

The Travers team was led by corporate partner Richard Spedding and Shell was advised in-house.

Finally. Addleshaw Goddard advised the promotional products company Pebble Group on its flotation on the AIM market with a fundraising value of £135m. It is the eighth IPO on AIM this year and the largest in terms of funds raised. The firm also advised on the £28m essensys listing in May and the £57m Brickability Group IPO in September.

The Addleshaw team was led by corporate partner Richard Lee. Lee told Legal Business: ‘What it means for the group is that they are no longer a private equity owned business and they no longer have the debt structure that goes with the private equity ownership. It gives them an improved balance sheet because the funds they raised in the IPO have been used to pay off the debt which they were previously carrying.

‘There were preferred share structures in there, plus loan notes, plus bank debts and the purpose of the fundraising for the company was to clear out that debt,’ added Lee.

The equity fundraise was managed by Berenberg with Grant Thornton acting as adviser. A London Bird & Bird equity capital markets team led by Adam Carling advised Berenberg as broker and Grant Thornton as nominated adviser.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: A&O and Ashurst close £1.2bn UK tunnel project as US-led buyouts take centre stage

Dealwatch: A&O and Ashurst close £1.2bn UK tunnel project as US-led buyouts take centre stage

Allen & Overy and Ashurst won leading roles on the £1.2bn Silvertown Tunnel project, the only big-ticket UK-led deal this week in a market awash with US buyouts.

A&O advised a consortium including Aberdeen Standard Investments, BAM PPP PGGM, Cintra, Macquarie and SK Group on the Silvertown Tunnel PPP with a team led by David Lee and including partners Mark Walker and Sara Pickersgill.

An Ashurst team led by partners Terry van Poortvliet and Jonathan Turner advised the procuring authority, Transport for London, on the tunnel, which will run under the River Thames and reduce congestion at the existing Blackwall Tunnel.

Lee commented: ‘This PPP deal is a significant UK infrastructure project which will bring huge benefits to South East London. It is interesting to note that in a world in which political discourse remains outspoken and disruption to our political system continues unabated, business and the public sector can still work together quietly and effectively to deliver important projects.’

Meanwhile leading US firms have dominated this week as LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) acquires global jeweller Tiffany & Co for $16.2bn and eBay sold StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05bn.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom advised LVMH on its acquisition of Tiffany & Co for $135 per share in cash, with a valuation of roughly $16.2bn.

The Skadden team was led by New York partners Howard Ellin and Sean Doyle. Allen & Overy advised the banks financing LVMH with a team led by counsel Thomas Roy and partners London-based partner Nick Clark and Todd Koretzky out of New York providing support.

Roy commented: ‘Assembling loan facilities of this size in such a short time period is a testament to the strength of LVMH’s banking relationships and the depth of the European loan market.’

A Sullivan & Cromwell team led by New York corporate partners Frank Aquila and Melissa Sawyer advised Tiffany.

The deal is expected to close in the middle of 2020 and is subject to customary closing conditions, regulatory approvals and approval from Tiffany’s shareholders.

Meanwhile, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, Skadden and Kirkland & Ellis have all won lead mandates alongside Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan as eBay agreed to sell StubHub to Viagogo for a purchase price of $4.05bn in cash.

Both StubHub and Viagogo are ticket marketplaces occupying the live sport, music and entertainment events space, with Viagogo having a much larger international presence, while StubHub is exclusively based in the US. Viagogo’s founder and chief executive Eric Baker co-founded StubHub in 2000 but left the company before eBay acquired it for $310m in 2007.

Baker commented: ‘It has long been my wish to unite the two companies. Buyers will have a wider choice of tickets, and sellers will have a wider network of buyers. Bringing these two companies together creates a win-win for fans – more choice and better pricing.’

Ebay is being advised by a Wachtell team led by corporate partners Daniel Neff, Karessa Cain and Raaj Narayan and includes restructuring and finance partner John Sobolewski and tax partner T.Eiko Stange. Quinn Emanuel is also advising eBay.

Viagogo is being advised by a Skadden team led by M&A partners Howard Ellin and Michael Chitwood and IP and technology partner Stuart Levi as well as a Kirkland team led by debt finance partners Jason Kanner and Andrea Weintraub and capital markets partner Sophia Hudson.

The sale is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2020 and is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.

Finally, Skadden also led on another big-ticket transaction, advising PayPal in its $4bn acquisition of Honey.

The Skadden team advising PayPal was led by corporate partner Michael Mies and antitrust/competition partner Ingrid Vandenborre. Latham & Watkins advised Honey Science Corporation with a team led by Los Angeles corporate partners Alex Voxman and Jordan Miller.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ashurst joins flexible lawyering bandwagon as DWF completes BT Law acquisition

Ashurst joins flexible lawyering bandwagon as DWF completes BT Law acquisition

Ashurst has teamed up with US-based law company Elevate and Cognia Law to offer clients flexible lawyering through the firm’s New Law umbrella Ashurst Advance.

The initiative launched today (8 November) and gives Ashurst access to Elevate and Cognia’s flexible lawyering pool, with the offering initially available in both the UK and Australia before being rolled out globally. The arrangement will also allow Ashurst’s clients to access particular expertise for secondees.

‘They needed flexible resource for client demand but didn’t want to build that platform themselves,’ Elevate president John Croft told Legal Business. ‘They are like us in that they have a UK and Australian presence, and we have John Kenton in Australia who helped create the flexible lawyering platform Orbit while he was at Corrs, so we were well-suited.’

Ashurst Advance is the firm’s New Law arm and generates more than £15m in revenue across Brisbane, Sydney, Glasgow and London. This year, Ashurst Advance became the fifth division of the firm alongside its four core legal lines, with project management and technology tool provider Ashurst Advance Delivery and corporate venture arm Ashurst Digital Ventures the two strands within the offering. The latest move builds on an existing arrangement Ashurst has with Cognia collaborating on managed legal services, in a partnership announced earlier this year.  Elevate, meanwhile, struck a flexible lawyering deal with Hogan Lovells in 2018.

‘The legal profession is becoming increasingly split between those who get it and those who do not,’ Croft added. ‘Forward thinking firms like Hogan Lovells and Ashurst are the ones we are working with.’

Meanwhile, listed firm DWF has completed the acquisition of BT’s alternative business structure, BT Law, following a five-year managed legal services deal struck between the two in July.

That deal, the firm’s first major post-IPO client and covering BT’s insurance and real estate work, sees 40 lawyers from BT’s in-house legal team of nearly 400 staff transfer to DWF by the end of this year. It also included the transfer of Sheffield-based BT Law, a business covering motor, employers’ liability and personal liability claims.

It is understood the acquisition of BT Law was for a nominal fee and does not involve any further employee transfers, instead covering a handful of clients moving from BT Law to DWF. No announcement was made to the London Stock Exchange.

A DWF spokesperson commented: ‘The acquisition follows our appointment in July as a strategic legal partner to BT. This is a natural step to take for both DWF and BT following our strategic partnership. It will ensure continuity of service for all of BT Law’s clients, many of whom are also existing DWF clients.’

A BT spokesperson added: ‘Following on from the appointment of DWF as a strategic legal partner earlier this year, we are continuing to transform and simplify the way we work across BT.  The acquisition of BT Law by DWF is an exciting step forward for both businesses, who will continue to deliver outstanding services.’

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

For more on the rise of New Law offerings within law firms, read this month’s cover feature: New Tricks (£)

Legal Business

Bakers makes eleventh City lateral in last year with Ashurst corporate hire

Bakers makes eleventh City lateral in last year with Ashurst corporate hire

Ashurst’s global head of corporate Jason Radford (pictured) is unfazed by the loss to Baker McKenzie’s prolific City hiring spree of corporate partner Nick Bryans and has pledged a sustained investment drive to maintain the firm’s recent financial rebound.

An Ashurst-lifer and partner since 2005, Bryans is joining the London office of Bakers. He follows ten other laterals the expansive firm has made already in London over the last year. He was head of the Ashurst’s Middle East practice in Dubai from 2007 to 2010 and a member of the firm’s Japanese practice group.

Specialising in M&A and equity capital markets, Bryans is focused on energy and resources, infrastructure, transport, pharma and life sciences, industrials and TMT. He advises corporates, banks and financial sponsors on public and private mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, IPOs, private placements and other capital raising deals.

Jane Hobson, head of Bakers’ London M&A practice, commented: ‘Nick’s hire will enhance Baker McKenzie’s market profile in London and accelerate the pace of the step-change we are already seeing in our transactional practices.’

Bryans added: ‘What really appealed to me about Baker McKenzie is its stellar global platform, the breadth of its client base and the strength of its brand. There is also a palpable sense of momentum behind the growth and trajectory of the firm’s transactional practices.’

This is Bakers’ eleventh London partner addition in the last year, following on from the hires of Marc Florent from Allen & Overy (dispute resolution), Prabhu Narasimhan from White & Case (tax), Philip Thomson from Ashurst (corporate/energy, mining & infrastructure), Philip Annett from A&O (financial services), Caitlin McErlane from Sidley Austin (financial services), Peter Lu from White & Case (corporate M&A), Rob Mathews from White & Case (capital markets), David Becker from White & Case (capital markets), Mathew Dening from Sidley Austin (structured capital markets) and Haden Henderson from Ropes & Gray (capital markets).

Meanwhile, Radford is optimistic that the firm’s sharpened focus on financial performance has it well-placed to sustain the upward momentum of its recent success. On the back of three consecutive years of growth, Ashurst added £77m to its top line to hit £641m for the year to 30 April 2019, a significant 14% increase on the £564m turnover of last year. PEP also soared 31% to £972,000 from last year’s £743,000, putting Ashurst within sight of its stated intention of smashing the £1m PEP barrier in the next financial year.

Radford told Legal Business: ‘We have invested considerably in our global corporate capability, having hired six laterals so far this year. This is all part of a drive to create a higher performing corporate team to consolidate and build on our major successes over the last two years.’

He said there was scope to hire more laterals for the corporate practice over the next few months, with London, France, Italy and Germany all cited as areas of intended investment.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

With news this weekend that Thomas Cook is on the brink of collapse and has ceased trading with immediate effect, a number of global elite firms have been lined up to advise on the latest high-profile collapse of a household name.

Ashurst is advising  the Official Receiver as well as AlixPartners and KPMG, which were appointed as special managers in respect of certain Thomas Cook entities, while Slaughter and May and Latham & Watkins are advising Thomas Cook. Insolvency practitioners from AlixPartners have been appointed as special managers over the airline and tour operator companies, while practitioners from KPMG have been appointed as special managers to the group’s retail division and to its aircraft maintenance companies.

Giles Boothman, Olga Galazoula and Lynn Dunne are leading the Ashurst team, with Crowley Woodford and Ruth Buchanan advising on the employment law aspects and Derwin Jenkinson, Tom Mercer and James Fletcher focusing on the corporate side. Meanwhile, the Slaughters team is being led by Tom Vickers and the Latham team is headed by partners Nick Cline, John Houghton and James Inness.

A Reed Smith team from the UK, Germany and the US are advising the Civil Aviation Authority in relation to the insolvency. The Civil Aviation Authority and AlixPartners will work together to deal with the repatriation of all stranded customers. The team is led by partners Richard Spafford who is advising on licensing and regulatory issues, Charlotte Møller leads on the insolvency law and contingency planning for the repatriation, while Nick Williams is advising on the financial aspects.

Chief executive of Thomas Cook Peter Fankhauser commented: ‘We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook’s future for its employees, customers and suppliers.  Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.’

In July, a team led by restructuring partner Ian Johnson, financing partner Ed Fife and corporate partner Richard Smith from Slaughters and a team from Latham & Watkins advised Thomas Cook Group in relation to the proposed recapitalisation plan.

Thomas Cook was looking for a £750m investment and was in talks with its largest shareholder, Fosun Tourism Group, as well as the company’s core lenders on a substantial new capital investment as part of a proposed recapitalisation and separation of the group.

Muna.abdi@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: US & City firms target Simmons & Simmons as Ashurst makes hires

Revolving doors: US & City firms target Simmons & Simmons as Ashurst makes hires

US & City firms saw a steady influx of lateral hires across sectors as Latham & Watkins, Allen & Overy (A&O) and Watson Farley & Williams hired partners from Simmons & Simmons.

US firm Latham hired Simmons’ head of equity capital markets, Chris Horton, as partner in its corporate department. Horton joined Simmons in 2008 and has experience advising on IPOs, secondary offerings and M&A transactions by listed companies, investment banks, and hedge funds.

Co-chair of Lathams’ corporate department Nick Cline commented: ‘Chris has a terrific blend of transactional and regulatory experience that will be of great value to our clients in the UK and globally.’

Global vice-chair of the corporate department David Walker added: ‘Chris’s experience complements and enhances the existing strength of our ECM and corporate practices in London and globally. His arrival will further advance our goal to become the market’s leading firm for complex, cross-border transactions.’

A&O similarly hired from Simmons, bringing in employment partner Vicky Wickremeratne to its London office. Wickremeratne became partner in 2015 and was previously the managing director and senior counsel of Goldman Sachs Asia, based in Hong Kong.

A&O head of London employment Sarah Henchoz told Legal Business: ‘Vicky spent a lot of time in-house before she joined Simmons & Simmons. She’s really good at looking at what the wider objective is rather than looking through a narrow lense and it’s a very unique perspective in many ways.’

Meanwhile, Watson Farley hired capital markets partner Simon Ovenden in London. Ovenden also joins from Simmons, where he was head of the debt capital market group. Ovenden has experience in debt and equity capital markets transactions and advises both underwriters and issuers across capital markets products.

Ovenden told Legal Business: ‘It is a challenging market with intense competition. You have to show clients something that really distinguishes you from the rest of the pack. You can’t be an average player in capital markets.’

‘It wasn’t a difficult sell for me to join. I like the people and I like the vision and the fact that they see capital markets as being part of what they want to offer,’ Ovenden added.

WFW managing partner Chris Lowe told Legal Business: ‘It’s not an easy market to attract high quality talent and I think it’s a testament to the firm and to Simon to have the vision that the platform will be able to deliver on what he does.

Elsewhere, Ashurst hired partner Ruby Hamid to its dispute resolution team in London. Hamid joins from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where she was counsel, and specialises in white-collar crime, financial regulation, global investigations and risk and compliance.

Head of dispute resolution in EMEA Tom Connor told Legal Business: ‘She brings a white collar crime practice and a deep expertise in corporate and financial crime – bribery and corruption work in particular will be a strong focus for Ruby. Ruby’s hire reflects our continuing focus on international investigations, alongside complex commercial litigation and international arbitration work.’

Mishcon de Reya, meanwhile, appointed Ben Brandon to its white collar crime and investigations team. He joins from barrister’s chambers 3 Raymond Buildings, and specialises in extradition and fraud.

Further afield, Ashurst made another hire from Freshfields in the form of Andrew Craig to its corporate practice in Melbourne, Australia. Craig specialises in digital economy and technology and has experience in advising corporate, private equity firms and financial institutions on technology transactions.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk