Legal Business

Norton Rose Fulbright delays Chadbourne merger due to a ‘few material conflicts’

Norton Rose Fulbright delays Chadbourne merger due to a ‘few material conflicts’

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has delayed its US merger with New York firm Chadbourne & Parke due to a ‘few material conflicts’.

Peter Martyr, global chief executive of NRF, said today in a statement that the combination process included an in-depth review of potential conflicts and as a result some material conflicts had been identified which the firm was working to resolve.

‘We expect our proposed combination with Chadbourne & Parke to enhance our capabilities and add tremendous value to our collective clients.  As we are in the process of working through the technicalities of bringing both firms together, it is premature to discuss any further at this stage. An update will be provided in due course,’ he said.

The merger with the $250m US firm will be NRF’s second North American merger in two years after NRF first entered the US through its combination with Texas practice Fulbright & Jaworski.

The deal will add to NRF’s $1.7bn top line and take the firm up to almost $2bn in total revenue worldwide.

Chadbourne is centred in New York, with a presence in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Istanbul, Dubai and Johannesburg. It has a small insurance-focused offering in London.

Chadbourne has been on the merger hunt before, entering into talks with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in 2015, before talks ultimately fell through later that year.

Meanwhile yesterday (13 June), partners at NRF and Australian law firm Henry Davis York formally agreed to merge, less than a week after it was confirmed they were in late-stage discussions.

The merger will give the combined firm 160 partners in Australia with offices in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. It is expected the merger will go live later this year.

Legal Business

‘A natural fit’: Reed Smith takes Chadbourne Moscow managing partner Baev ahead of NRF merger

‘A natural fit’: Reed Smith takes Chadbourne Moscow managing partner Baev ahead of NRF merger

Following its recent agreement to combine with Norton Rose Fulbright to create a $2bn firm, Chadbourne & Parke has lost the head of its Moscow office, Andrei Baev, to Reed Smith.

Leaving after only two years at Chadbourne, energy and infrastructure finance partner Baev will join Reed Smith’s London office but will split his time between London, Astana and Moscow. He leaves behind a three-partner team at Chadbourne in Moscow, with only one partner, Konstantin Konstantinov, focusing solely on Russia. Norton Rose currently has seven partners in Moscow.

Despite many firms with a focus on capital markets scaling back in Russia in recent years as US-led economic sanctions have heavily affected the market, Chadbourne hired Baev as Moscow managing partner from Goltsblat Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) in 2015 to boost its presence in Russia.

Formerly equity partner in BLP’s Moscow office since 2011, Baev was previously a partner at Allen & Overy for 10 years. Most recently, he resided in both of Chadbourne’s London and Moscow offices.

Baev (pictured) said: ‘This presents an opportunity for me to deepen my existing client relationships with major Russian oil & gas companies and further diversify my practice.

A specialist in project finance, Baev has more than 25 years’ experience advising across oil and gas, power, mining, telecoms and infrastructure, with a focus on Russia, Eastern and central Europe, central Asia and the Middle East.

Baev added: ‘While at Chadbourne, I worked with Reed Smith on the same client side of the negotiation table on one of the major power projects in Kazakhstan. Reed Smith has a brilliant practice in Astana and I am excited to become part of this prominent group of lawyers.’

Last year, Clifford Chance also tapped Chadbourne in New York for restructuring lawyer Douglas Deutsch, while a three-partner arbitration team from Chadbourne joined Cooley last December.

Reed Smith’s latest global revenues fell for the second consecutive year in 2016, by 4% to $1.08bn from $1.12bn, which the firm said was the result of managing down headcount by 81 lawyers over the year.

Legal Business

East side story: NRF adds Manhattan capability with projects-driven Chadbourne tie-up

East side story: NRF adds Manhattan capability with projects-driven Chadbourne tie-up

In its second major US merger in four years, Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has secured strength for its New York practice through a deal with 400-lawyer Chadbourne & Parke.

The merger will see Chadbourne’s $250m practice bolted on to NRF’s US arm under the verein structure, giving the combined firm a potential global turnover of around $2bn.

NRF global chief executive Peter Martyr said: ‘Chadbourne has a proud history, and is known for its world class practices in energy, infrastructure, banking and finance. Joining forces with our new colleagues, we can offer our clients significant new capabilities in New York and Washington, DC.’

The deal will give NRF additional new offices in Mexico City, São Paulo and Istanbul. The combination creates a firm with 1,000 lawyers in the US and 300 lawyers in New York alone. NRF said the deal would give the firm 4,000 lawyers in 58 offices.

Chadbourne managing partner Andrew Giaccia said: ‘Our firms share a strategic vision and client focus, and we have highly complementary practice and industry strengths. Following the combination, our global offerings will be virtually unrivalled in many areas, from energy and infrastructure to finance, bankruptcy and restructuring, litigation and regulatory work.’

The deal results in the disappearance of the Chadbourne name as the projects, energy and insurance firm merges, with the bulk of the firm joining the NRF’s US arm and a handful of partners joining in the City.

NRF partners told Legal Business London partners only voted on lateral hires into the European business, with the main deal thrashed out by the US partnerships. Voting in London took place from Friday 3 February with one partner suggesting the hires were passed by the following Monday.

The deal adds significant strength in New York, a major target of NRF’s management since its tie up with Texan firm Fulbright & Jaworski in 2013, which was strong in disputes and energy but underweight in the New York market. Chadbourne also provides a trophy project finance practice.

In London the firm gains five partners who join NRF’s European LLP under Chadbourne managing partner Adrian Mecz, as well as several international partners from Moscow, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo.

The deal comes less than six months after NRF merged with 90-lawyer Canadian firm Bull, Housser & Tupper, its third Canadian merger.

Read more in: ‘On the bus – Inside the Norton Rose Fulbright masterplan’

Legal Business

Legacy Norton Rose partnership given limited voting rights on Chadbourne merger

Legacy Norton Rose partnership given limited voting rights on Chadbourne merger

Partners at legacy Norton Rose‘s European business will get a limited vote on the firm’s next potential US merger with New York firm Chadbourne & Parke, Legal Business understands.

Instead of being able to vote on the union with Chadbourne, Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) European partners, which vote early next week, will only be able to decide on whether partners from Chadbourne’s European offices join the firm.

Under verein structure of NRF, which treats the different member firms as separate businesses for legal purposes, the deal will only see partners under the US arm of the firm voting on a union with Chadbourne.

Despite the size of the merger, which would see NRF combine with Chadbourne’s $250m global business, the deal is being worked out in the US with limited input from senior partners in the European arm of the firm. Chadbourne has around 300 lawyers in the US, while NRF has close to 700.

Last year’s deal which saw NRF’s Canadian arm merge with Vancouver firm Bull, Housser & Tupper was also not subject to a firmwide vote. Two senior partners at legacy Norton Rose told Legal Business the European firm was not expected to vote on the merger. A spokesperson for the firm refused to comment on the voting process.

Last week, NRF’s European arm reported a turnover boost of nearly 11% – up to £434m for 2015/16 from £319m the previous year. The global firm saw turnover slip around 3% in dollar terms for 2015 to $1.7bn.

A statement from NRF global managing partner Peter Martyr (pictured) and US managing partner Daryl Lansdale said: ‘We believe that the combination would provide an even stronger global platform for our clients, who would also benefit from our compatibility in both practice and industry focus. We will make no further comment on this matter until discussions with our partnership have concluded.’

A spokesperson from Chadbourne confirmed the talks: ‘A prospective union with Norton Rose Fulbright has the potential to enhance our capabilities and add tremendous value for the clients of both firms, but there are still a number of considerations left in this process, and it is premature to discuss these in any detail. We hope to have something to report on this soon.’

Read more in: ‘On the bus – Inside the Norton Rose Fulbright masterplan’


Legal Business

Pillsbury and Chadbourne in merger talks as NY’s legal mid-tier continues to consolidate


US firms Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Chadbourne & Parke are in early merger talks, with the potential to create a 1,000 lawyer firm.  

San Francisco founded Pillsbury, which sits in the top-75 firms of the Global 100, generated revenues of $560m in 2014, while profit per equity partner (PEP) stood at $1.2m. 

New York-based Chadbourne, on the other hand, has eleven offices worldwide and focuses on cross-border transactions and disputes in emerging and growth markets. The firm’s core practice areas include project finance, energy, litigation, corporate, bankruptcy and financial restructuring, insurance and reinsurance, tax and real estate, and it is particularly known for its work in energy matters across Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The merger discussions would not be the first for Pillsbury which in 2013 was in talks with US firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, which would have created a firm of about 1,800 lawyers with revenues of around $1.4bn, putting it in the top 15 law firms in the world by fee income. The deal was called off in November of that year, after a conflict of interest emerged between clients in Orrick’s public finance practice and Pillsbury’s tax, environmental and real estate practices.

Pillsbury’s lawyer headcount fell in March this year, after 15 lawyers quit to join Winston & Strawn, with the firm’s Abu Dhabi managing partner Stephen Jurgenson, London-based co-head of energy, infrastructure and projects James Simpson and New York-based structured products chief Jeffrey Stern exiting the firm.

If the deal goes through, the combination will see the US’ legal mid-tier consolidate as more firms join hands to keep up pace with the globalisation of law. In late 2014, Morgan Lewis & Bockius acquired Boston-based firm Bingham McCutchen’s assets after the latter firm suffered major losses in mortgage-backed securities and restructuring work.

Legal Business

‘Committed to the Russian market’: Chadbourne & Parke hires BLP energy partner to manage Moscow office


After shutting down its Kiev operations last summer, Chadbourne & Parke has boosted its presence in Russia with the hire of energy partner Andrei Baev from Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) as Moscow managing partner.

Previously a partner at Allen & Overy (A&O) for over ten years before joining Goltsblat BLP in 2011 as a senior equity partner, Baev will now reside both in Chadbourne’s London and Moscow offices. A specialist in project finance, he advises across oil and gas, power, mining, telecoms and infrastructure, with a focus on Russia and Eastern Europe. Past clients include Gazprom, IFC, Lukoil, RusHydro and TNK-BP.

It follows Chadbourne’s decision to close its office in Kiev, affecting ten fee-earners and three partners, due to ongoing political unrest that caused a problematic outlook for the firm’s long-term business in the region.

Contrary to Chadbourne’s decision to scale up in Moscow, many firms, especially those with a capital markets focus, have reduced their offerings in Russia as US-led economic sanctions have heavily affected the debt financing capabilities of some of Russia’s largest banks. Firms known to be affected by the sanctions includes A&O, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, White & Case and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

On Baev’s hire, Chadbourne managing partner Andy Giaccia said: ‘We have grown strategically by focusing on our firm’s strengths in the energy sector and in emerging markets, and we are committed to the Russian market, notwithstanding some of the recent economic challenges, and continue to see great opportunities there.

Ayşe Yüksel, Chadbourne’s EMEA liaison partner, added: ‘Andrei is a talented business developer who has grown strong relationships with senior management at some of the largest Russian companies, and his work and experience maps well with our geographic footprint as well as our practice strengths in energy and international projects. Not only will Andrei help grow our Russian practice, but he will also drive growth across the entire EMEA region.’

Also in hiring mode in Moscow is Freshfields which today (7 April) announced the hire of disputes duo Alexey Yadykin and Fedor Belykh who join as senior associates from Debevoise & Plimpton and A&O respectively.

Legal Business

Chadbourne closes Kiev arm as Freshfields duo set up in Barcelona

Political tension and economic turbulence have seen more law firms retrench in the wider European region, with Chadbourne & Parke and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer both confirming office closures. US firm Chadbourne last month confirmed that it was closing its Kiev office, a move which saw Dentons benefit as it snapped up Kiev-based corporate partner Adam Mycyk. Meanwhile, a pair of Freshfields lawyers have established an IP/IT specialist boutique following the closure of the Magic Circle firm’s Barcelona office in April this year.

Mycyk, who is also the former managing partner for CMS Cameron McKenna’s Kiev office, will join Dentons as a partner in its corporate practice just 18 months after moving to Chadbourne.

Legal Business

Dentons picks up partner as Chadbourne closes Kiev office


Chadbourne & Parke’s Adam Mycyk has moved to Dentons following Chadbourne’s decision to close its Kiev office.

Mycyk will join Dentons as a partner in its Kiev corporate practice from Chadbourne which he joined just last year in February. Before Chadbourne he was a partner in CMS Cameron McKenna since August 2007 during which he served as the Kiev office managing partner from 2008 to 2012.

He has experience of advising Ukrainian companies and financial institutions on structuring and implementing debt and equity inward investments, including corporate and complex cross-border commercial and financing transactions.

Mycyk said: ‘At this critical stage in Ukraine’s development, my arrival reaffirms Dentons’ long-standing commitment to the Ukrainian market.’

The move comes as Chadbourne & Parke closes its office due to the ongoing political unrest causing a problematic outlook for the firm’s long-term business in the region.

Chadbourne’s managing partner of the Kiev office Jaroslawa Zelinsky said: ‘The geopolitical situation has been very different since Russia invaded, so the firm has decided to close after 21 years. Lawyers at the office will be relocating while others will be joining other firms.’

The closure will affect total of ten fee-earners and three partners namely Mycyk, Sergiy Onishchenko who has been a partner at the firm since 2007 and will leave to set up his own real estate and corporate boutique, and Johnson who will relocate to the US and work between the firm’s New York and Washington DC offices as senior counsel.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Chadbourne, A&O, Trowers and Pinsent Masons boost City offering

London dominated the lateral hiring scene over the past week with firms including US Chadbourne & Parke, Allen & Overy (A&O), Eversheds and Pinsent Masons strengthening their City offering.

Chadbourne’s 36-lawyer London office, which acts a hub for the firm’s emerging and developing markets practice, has hired banking and finance partner Partha Pal from the City arm of top 15 US firm Sidley Austin.

‘Strengthening Chadbourne’s banking and finance capabilities in London is critical to enhancing our ability to execute emerging-markets transactions governed by English law,’ said newly-elected regional managing partner Adrian Mecz.

Pal was a partner in Sidley’s global finance group, focussing on banking and structured finance transactions and related restructurings and dispute resolution.

The good news story for the firm’s London office comes days after its New York counterpart lost a three-partner litigation and arbitration team to Hogan Lovells Manhattan office.

Elsewhere, A&O has hired Goldman Sachs lawyer Denise Gibson as a banking partner in its leveraged finance practice. Gibson left the Magic Circle firm two years ago as a senior associate to join the US investment banking giant.

A&O has regularly advised Goldman Sachs as a joint lead arranger on deals such as Tesco Plc’s series of credit-linked CMBS-style financing, led by structured finance partner Christian Lambie and real estate finance partner Arthur Dyson. The sixth in the series, worth £490m, was announced in February this year and involved Goldman Sachs and Barclays as joint lead managers.

In other hires, Eversheds equity capital markets (ECM) head Neil Matthews is leaving to join Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) as a partner in the firm’s London corporate practice. Matthews, who will join FFW in August, has been at Eversheds since 1989, making partner in 1996 advising on IPOs for companies including Abcam, Ilika, May Gurney, Norcon and Plusnet.

FFW managing partner Michael Chissick said the appointment was part of a wider recruitment programme largely covering corporate, which he described as ‘underweight.’

Meanwhile, top 20 UK firm Pinsent Masons has appointed Bircham Dyson Bell’s head of major projects Robbie Owen to head its infrastructure planning and government affairs division within the firm’s planning & environment team, which will now include a parliamentary agency capability at Westminster.

Owen, who will join Pinsents City office later in the summer, is an authorised ‘Roll A’ parliamentary agent authorised by parliament to act as an agent for those promoting and opposing private bills and hybrid bills. He is currently advising on projects including the London Underground’s Northern Line extension and the high-speed HS2 rail line.

Elsewhere, top 50 firm Trowers & Hamlins has hired RadcliffesLeBrasseur’s tax and private client head Simon Goldring as head of private wealth. Goldring has been a partner at RadcliffesLeBrasseur since 2008 before becoming department head in 2009.

Trowers & Hamlins senior partner Jennie Gubbins said: ‘Private wealth is proving an increasingly integral part of our service offering, and with his reputation and experience, Simon is perfectly placed to lead the charge in taking our practice to the next level.’

In a further London hire, City firm Fox Williams has strengthened its employment team with the appointment of Pinsent Masons partner Helen Farr.

Farr has extensive experience in the application of TUPE and has advised on a variety of TUPE transfers, including business acquisitions, mergers, private sector outsourcing and PPP/PFI projects within the private and public sectors.

Jane Mann, head of the employment practice, said: ‘Helen’s expertise across all areas of employment law and her involvement within the financial and professional services sectors make her a brilliant fit for our firm. We are experiencing increased demand from clients in the financial and professional services sectors and are able to offer them a broad range of contentious and non-contentious advice across our specialist teams.’

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