Legal Business

Global London Focus: Dechert

Global London Focus: Dechert

London headcount: 169 lawyers: 44 partners (26 equity, 18 non-equity)

Lawyer headcount change since 2013: +29%

London office management committee: Gus Black (chair) (pictured), Jason Butwick, Chris Field

Office specialities: private equity; deal finance and financial regulation; litigation/investigations.

Legal Business

Dechert rebuilds City leadership with dealmaker Field as Black takes helm

Dechert rebuilds City leadership with dealmaker Field as Black takes helm

Dechert has taken strides to fortify its depleted London management team, adding private equity partner Chris Field and naming Gus Black as its chair.

Funds specialist Black (pictured) is global co-chair of Dechert’s financial services group and has been a member of the London management committee since its inception in 2016. Corporate partner Field was hired into Dechert’s London office after 11 years at Kirkland & Ellis in October 2017 along with tax partner Jane Scobie. They followed a path trodden by finance partner John Markland who left Kirkland for Dechert the previous year.

The firm’s London leadership was dealt a blow when the committee was halved from four members to two at the start of this year. Former chair and capital markets head Camille Abousleiman stepped down to take a job as minister of labour for the government of Lebanon after international trade and government regulation co-chair Miriam Gonzalez resigned last October when her husband, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, took a job at Facebook in Silicon Valley. Abousleiman remains as of counsel at the firm.

Employment lawyer Jason Butwick, who acted as London managing partner from 2012 until 2016 when the committee was formed, is the third London leader.

The Philadelphia-bred firm is in expansion mode in London, making up three partners in its latest 16-strong promotion round , effective of 1 January 2019. It marked Dechert’s biggest UK investment for some time, having made up only one City partner last year and bypassing London altogether the year before.

Earlier this year, the firm invested in its European funds business with the hire of Marianna Tothova in London from Ashurst and Carol Widger from Maples and Calder as the managing partner of its Dublin office.

The City office has also seen a decent run of lateral hires in recent months, recruiting Sidley Austin’s London co-head of disputes Dorothy Cory-Wright to head up its commercial disputes practice last July. The previous month, former senior US federal prosecutor Roger Burlingame joined from Kobre & Kim and last September, Hogan Lovells lost its highly-rated private equity partner Robert Darwin to Dechert’s corporate and life sciences team.

The firm recently announced 2018 revenues of $1.02bn – an eight consecutive year of growth and now has around 1,000 lawyers across its 27 offices globally.

Black said: ‘London is a strategic priority and focus of investment for the firm and Chris’ appointment to the London management committee reflects this commitment. Chris is already helping to drive significant expansion of our private equity practice in London and he will play a key role as we continue to grow in London.’

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dechert bolsters European funds team with key City and Dublin hires

Dechert bolsters European funds team with key City and Dublin hires

Dechert has ramped up investment in its European funds business with a pair of hires, including Marianna Tothova in London from Ashurst.

The hire of Tothova, which comes amid a pacey recruitment drive for the US firm in London in recent months, coincides with that of Carol Widger from Maples and Calder as the managing partner of its Dublin office.

Luxembourg-qualified Tothova will work in Dechert’s London and Luxembourg branches and is focused on private funds. Most recently counsel at Ashurst in London, she previously worked in the investment management group at Linkaters and is experienced in the structuring of regulated and unregulated investment funds and regulatory issues.

Widger, meanwhile,  specialises in advising fund promoters and fund managers on the creation and management of investment fund in a career spanning 20 years. She is a former chair of Irish Fund’s legal working group and is the current chair and founding member of the Dublin location for 100 Women in Finance. Dechert lays claim to having the first major onshore transatlantic funds practice in Dublin.

Dechert’s financial services group spans the key European funds domiciles of UK, Luxembourg, Ireland, France and Germany, as well as the US, Middle East and Asia. The firm represents 23 of the world’s top 25 largest global asset management firms and 41 of the top 50 private debt firms.

Gus Black, global co-chair of the firm’s financial services group, said of the hires: ‘Many of our clients have business spanning Ireland and Luxembourg, and these appointments signal our commitment to both of these important fund centres as well as our jurisdiction-neutral advice model.’

Black told Legal Business: ‘We absolutely plan to hire more funds specialists. This is part of a growth strategy and there is strong demand in Europe and clear potential to add to our bench across jurisdictions. Funds represents one fifth of the firm globally, both in headcount and revenue. It is a huge part of our DNA.’

He added that the firm views London as a key growth centre and an important strategic location for investment, irrespective of Brexit, promising more laterals in 2019.

The firm last month sustained its recent investment drive in London with the promotion to partner of three in the City amid a 16-strong global round . The move was Dechert’s biggest UK investment for some time, having made up only one City partner last year and bypassing London altogether the year before.

Recent lateral hires in London have included Sidley Austin’s local co-head of disputes Dorothy Cory-Wright to head up its commercial disputes practice last July. The previous month, former senior US federal prosecutor Roger Burlingame joined from Kobre & Kim, while in September, Hogan Lovells lost its highly-rated private equity partner Robert Darwin to Dechert’s corporate and life sciences team.

Dechert recorded 2017 revenues of $977.9m in a seventh consecutive year of growth and now has around 1,000 lawyers across its 27 offices globally.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Commitment to London’: Dechert makes up three in the City amid 16-strong partner promotions round

‘Commitment to London’: Dechert makes up three in the City amid 16-strong partner promotions round

Dechert is continuing a recent spate of investment in its London office with the promotion to partner of three in the City amid a scaled up 16-strong global round.

The Philadelphia-headquartered firm has continued its commercial litigation push by making up Matthew Banham and Timothy Bowden from its white-collar crime bench in London, while tax lawyer Daniel Hawthorne has also been promoted.

The move marks Dechert’s biggest UK investment for some time, having made up only one City partner last year and bypassing London altogether the year before.

The City office has also seen a pacey run of lateral hires recently, recruiting Sidley Austin’s London co-head of disputes Dorothy Cory-Wright to head up its commercial disputes practice in July. The previous month, former senior US federal prosecutor Roger Burlingame joined from Kobre & Kim and in September, Hogan Lovells lost its highly-rated private equity partner Robert Darwin to Dechert’s corporate and life sciences team. The firm chalked up 2017 revenues of $977.9m in a seventh consecutive year of growth and now has around 1,000 lawyers across its 27 offices globally.

London management committee member Jason Butwick said: ‘These promotions reflect the firm’s commitment to London and its importance to the firm. Our new partners represent the next generation of Dechert lawyers and further strengthen our global capability.’

Nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

The full list of partner promotions, which take effect on 1 January 2019, are:

Matthew Banham, white-collar crime, London

Timothy Bowden, white-collar crime, London

Matthew Carter, corporate and securities, Washington DC

Michael Darby, corporate and securities, Philadelphia

Christopher Desmond, finance and real estate, Boston

Darshak Dholakia, international trade, Washington DC

Matthew Fischer, finance and real estate, New York

Sam Gilbert, finance and real estate, Boston

Gennady Gorel, finance and real estate, Philadelphia

Daniel Hawthorne, tax, London

Angela Liu, securities litigation, Chicago

Stephen Pratt, corporate and securities, Philadelphia

Anne-Charlotte Rivière, corporate and securities, Paris

Erica Stein, international arbitration, Brussels

Jonathan Stott, corporate and securities, Philadelphia

Yang Wang, corporate and securities, Hong Kong

 

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Dechert hires in Frankfurt, Watson Farley in Hamburg, McDermott in Dusseldorf

Revolving doors: Dechert hires in Frankfurt, Watson Farley in Hamburg, McDermott in Dusseldorf

In a week of European-focused lateral hires, firms have expanded their German ranks. Dechert hired in Frankfurt, Watson Farley & Williams in Hamburg, and McDermott Will and Emery in Dusseldorf.

Separately, in London, Rosenblatts Solicitors appointed a new commercial litigation partner.

Dechert has appointed Joachim Kayser as a partner to its Frankfurt financial services team. He joined from PwC in Germany where he was head of alternative investments, asset management and regulatory.

Kayser’s practice focuses on legal and operational advice for investment funds, their asset managers, intermediaries and institutional investors on regulatory and tax matters.

Dechert’s Frankfurt managing partner, Achim Putz said the addition of Joachim and his team in Frankfurt will ‘nicely complement our existing German practices in Bonn, Frankfurt and Munich.’

Watson Farley expanded its Hamburg office with the hire of corporate partner Bjorn-Axel Diβars from Latham & Watkins to its energy and infrastructure practice, bring the team to 38 lawyers. Diβars acts on transactional and disputes work, focusing on the oil & gas, international trade and maritime sectors.

Watson Farley’s Germany head, Marcus Bechtel, said the addition of Björn-Axel [Diβars] and the ‘expansion of our German energy and infrastructure practice is an important element of the firm’s growth strategy both internationally and in Hamburg specifically.’

McDermott also bolstered its German practice in Dusseldorf with the hire of antitrust partner Daniel von Brevern. He joins from Linklaters. He has advised on cases such as Vodafone’s $10bn merger with Kabel Deutschland in 2013, and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets on the acquisition of Open Grid Europe in 2012. He has experience in the banking, insurance, energy, pharmaceutical, healthcare and automotive sectors. His clients include Bregal Capital and Energy Exchange.

McDermott’s Germany head, Norbert Schulte said the firm’s antitrust and competition practice has ‘seen a substantial development over the last few years. We are convinced that with Daniel’s contribution this trend will continue.’

In London, litigation partner Donna Goldsworthy joined Rosenblatts from Irwin Mitchell, where she led the commercial litigation team. Donna specialises in F1 and Formula E sports, along with extensive financial services and construction experience.

Legal Business

Signature Litigation client ENRC to appeal as High Court rules in favour of SFO in legal privilege claim

Signature Litigation client ENRC to appeal as High Court rules in favour of SFO in legal privilege claim

The High Court has ruled that documents prepared by mining giant Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) in relation to a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation were not protected by legal professional privilege (LPP).

Signature Litigation client ENRC has announced its intention to appeal the decision, signalling an extension to the long-running dispute with the SFO, which began in 2013.

The ruling relates to a criminal investigation by the SFO which alleged fraud, bribery and corruption on the part of ENRC. As part of the investigation, the SFO requested that ENRC produce relevant documents. ENRC claimed these documents were protected by LPP and were therefore justified in resisting the request.

But in the judgment, Justice Andrews ruled that the SFO was warranted in its request: ‘There is a recognised public interest in the SFO being able to go about its business of investigating and prosecuting crime; and the sort of evidence which one would expect to be found in the Disputed Documents is likely to be of considerable value to its current investigation.’

An ENRC spokesman stated: ‘We are very surprised by this ruling and we will appeal today’s decision because the effect of this judgment is that a party who wishes to consult a lawyer in relation to an SFO dawn raid or criminal investigation is not entitled to the protections afforded by litigation privilege.’

ENRC was represented by Signature Litigation partner Graham Huntley, who instructed Fountain Court Chambers’ Richard Lissack QC and Tamara Oppenheimer in addition to Outer Temple Chambers’ Saaman Pourghadiri. Eversheds Sutherland acted on behalf of the SFO, and instructed Bright Line Law’s Jonathan Fisher QC and Blackstone Chambers’ James Segan and Eesvan Krishnan.

Huntley commented: ‘This judgment for the first time signals that litigation privilege will be unlikely to protect that legal work, meaning that genuine attempts by clients to investigate allegations will have to be embarked upon knowing that privilege will not cover whatever is produced.’

The ruling follows a decision by the senior courts costs office to allow ENRC to have multimillion-pound bills from Dechert assessed after the mining company claimed it had been overcharged. ENRC initially hired Dechert in 2011 in relation to the company’s self-reporting process ahead of the SFO’s investigation.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Focus: Dechert

Focus: Dechert

London office headcount: 165 lawyers, 42 partners

Fee-earner headcount change since 2011: +72%

London office management committee: Camille Abousleiman (chair), Jason Butwick, Gus Black and Miriam Gonzalez

Office speciality: Private equity, finance, litigation/investigations

Representative London work: Advising UK oil and gas independent Chrysaor Holdings’ $3bn acquisition of a package of assets in the UK North Sea from Shell.

 

‘We only arrived towards the end of last year and have had a strong start, signing deals during our first two months which originated at our prior firms.’
Ross Allardice, Dechert

 

 

Despite securing the first major US takeover of a London firm back in 2000, Dechert has since been largely viewed as strategically cautious and lacking visibility in the City. However, the Philadelphia-bred firm has been making notable efforts to make up ground in the last year or so.

As US firms continue their push in London, Dechert has found added momentum, reporting a solid growth in City income last year (notable compared to the 10% slide in its revenues in 2015), aided by a 30% jump in headcount and a number of high-profile hires.

Significant laterals in 2016 include high-profile City duo Ross Allardice from White & Case and John Markland from Kirkland & Ellis, who arrived last November in the firm’s private equity (PE) and finance practices.

Earlier in the year, Dechert turned to DLA Piper for finance partners Philip Butler and David Miles to enhance its direct lending business (Butler was DLA’s global head of leveraged finance). And most recently in the City, Dechert hired Clifford Chance’s litigation partner Stephen Surgeoner.

The firm also recorded a significant uplift in instructions last year. These include advising Magyar Telekom on the sale of its holding in the Invitel Group to the China-CEE Investment Fund and representing Ziarco’s shareholders on its sale to Novartis, led by corporate partner Graham Defries.

Other noteworthy Dechert London partners include head of structured and real estate finance Charles Malpass, and co-chair of the firm’s international trade and government regulation Miriam Gonzalez, whom the firm also hired from DLA in 2011. However, finance partners at rival firms argue that despite its US strength and its recent City push, Dechert will continue to struggle due to its lack of bank panel relationships.

‘Dechert is trying to operate how DLA did, but it has the weakness of not being on panels like other City firms are. This is not a problem for firms like Latham, because its work is not fee-sensitive,’ says a senior City finance partner.

However, Dechert’s head of corporate in London, Douglas Getter, argues changes to the credit markets have altered the dynamic.

‘Phil [Butler] and Dave [Miles] are a good example of the synergies between traditional and alternative lenders. They started at DLA and did bank work for over 20 years. By the time we met them, their work had evolved to almost 75% for direct lenders,’ he says.

And, while Dechert’s City history suggests it has not been fulfilling its potential, sustained expansion in the firm’s core areas – PE, finance and investigations, as well as life sciences, financial services M&A and international arbitration – seems to be working.

The same month it hired Allardice and Markland, Dechert picked up a first-time instruction for key White & Case client Mid Europa Partners on the largest PE deal in Romania.

Allardice comments: ‘We only arrived towards the end of last year and have had a strong start during this period, signing deals during our first two months which originated at our prior firms. This momentum has continued into 2017.’

Getter adds: ‘What the firm does very well is allowing the people in Europe to do European and UK deals without people coming over from the US. It’s to do with trust. The biggest deals we’ve done here are self-originated. We are 160 lawyers and certainly not a satellite office for the US.’

Regarding the firm’s strategic direction, New York, London and Hong Kong remain the key geographies in general, with Germany and Paris regarded as underweight and where the firm is paying particular attention to growth in the short term.

‘Now we’re looking to continue building our platform. Our USP is to represent funds in everything they do, both under US and UK law, and that’s the position we have put ourselves in,’ Getter concludes.

Georgiana Tudor

Legal Business

Back in court: Dechert sues client Ikon Finance over fees

Back in court: Dechert sues client Ikon Finance over fees

Just over a month after a High Court judge ruled on Dechert’s fee dispute with Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), the US firm has sued its client Ikon Finance over the non-payment of nearly £860,000 in fees.

In June 2016, Dechert filed a claim against Ikon Finance in the Queen’s Bench Division alleging non-payment of legal services, a figure amounting to £859,356,85.

Ikon Finance subsequently commenced a process with the Senior Courts Costs Office to have these fees assessed in September 2016, with the two parties expected to come to a confidential resolution in the next few days.

According to court documents obtained by Legal Business, Ikon Finance drafted Dechert in to assist with a variety of matters, including credit litigation and arbitration, in addition to general legal advice. Ikon Finance had paid roughly £210,000 towards the fees, but were yet to reach the quoted £860,000 bill.

Dechert, which was represented by its partner David Hughes, claimed a growing interest rate of £200 per day until judgment or an earlier payment. A central disagreement related to Ikon Europe director Engin Yikilmazoglu, who Dechert argued was responsible for signing financial documents on Ikon Finance’s behalf. Ikon Finance, however, stated Yikilmazoglu was not a director and had no such authority.

The documents also reveal that Ikon Finance was ‘unhappy’ with Dechert’s fees, particularly the hourly charges. Ikon Finance contended the fee was agreed to be £400 an hour, before being changed by Dechert to £550.

A spokesperson for Dechert said: ‘The issues in dispute have now been resolved and a consent order terminating proceedings is expected to be filed in the coming days. The terms of that settlement will be confidential.’

In February, ENRC successfully argued to have its multimillion-pound bills from Dechert assessed after the mining company claimed it had been overcharged.

Master Rowley, who handed down the decision, described discrepancies between Dechert’s estimates and the costs actually billed, noting that some of those estimates were ‘considerably awry on every occasion.’

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dechert returns to Kirkland for second finance hire in six months

Dechert returns to Kirkland for second finance hire in six months

Dechert is to appoint Kirkland & Ellis banking and finance partner Rob Bradshaw, returning to the Chicago-bred firm’s London office for recruitment for the second time in the last six months.

Part of its City push, Dechert also hired Kirkland partner John Markland last November. Markland had been with Kirkland for 12 years and founded the firm’s European debt finance team, advising clients such as Palamon Capital Partners, Mid Europa and Bain Capital.

Bradshaw was made partner at Kirkland in 2015, and was previously an associate at Allen & Overy. His practice focuses on cross-border financing transactions, including leveraged and acquisition financing, refinancing and restructurings. He advises both borrowers and creditors.

Bradshaw’s key mandates at Kirkland included representing Bain Capital in connection with the financing of the acquisition by Autodis of Doyen Auto, and TPG Growth on the acquisition of Frank Recruitment Group in April 2016.

Dechert has been significantly improving its finance practice in the City in recent months, with the hire of DLA Piper partners Philip Butler and David Miles. Miles was DLA’s head of debt finance in London while Butler was head of finance and projects, and global co-chair in the firm’s financial services sector.

Alongside Markland, Dechert also hired White & Case’s private equity partner Ross Allardice last November.

As well as losing high-yield heavyweight Ward McKimm to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2015, Kirkland also lost a seven-partner team to Sidley Austin in Munich last month, after having already lost a six-partner deal team from its London office to Sidley one year before.

Conversely, Kirkland took star finance partner Michael Steele in 2015 and real estate finance partner Jonathan Birks in late 2016, both from Freshfields.

Earlier this month, Kirkland also hired Munich-based corporate partner Volkmar Bruckner from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, to replenish the German practice.

Dechert and Kirkland declined to comment.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

 

Legal Business

High Court rules Dechert bill discrepancy ‘impossible to ignore’

High Court rules Dechert bill discrepancy ‘impossible to ignore’

The High Court has ruled that Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) will now have its multimillion-pound bills from Dechert assessed after the mining company had claimed it had been overcharged.

Master Rowley, who handed down the judgment from the senior courts costs office at the end of January, described discrepancies between Dechert’s estimates and the costs actually billed, noting that some of those estimates were ‘considerably awry on every occasion’.

The ruling means that the a timetable for assessment of the bills will need to be put in place and ENRC will continue its claim for recovery of costs against Dechert in the High Court. A spokesperson for Dechert said: ‘We look forward now to proceeding with the costs assessment process’.

A spokesperson for ENRC said: ‘We have always been concerned about the level of charging by Dechert, but felt unable to challenge these while our internal investigation was underway. We are pleased that the High Court has agreed that assessment proceedings can now be brought in relation to £11.6m of the fees charged to us by Dechert.’

ENRC initially hired Dechert to undertake a self-reporting process of the company’s finances relating to a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office that began in 2011, which alleged ENRC may have been committing fraud in some its overseas operations. For this service, Dechert billed ENRC over £16.3m (excluding VAT), with £11.7m invoiced between 23 July 2012 and 11 April 2013.

Overseen by Graham Huntley, Signature Litigation led for ENRC, instructing Outer Temple Chambers’ Saaman Pourghadiri and 4 New Square’s Ben Williams QC. Representing Dechert, Clyde & Co instructed Temple Garden Chambers’ Simon Browne QC alongside the Clyde’s commercial costs lawyer Mersedeh Safa.

Dechert had previously attempted to have the hearing on costs held in public, arguing that it needed to cite legally privileged material to clear its name, but the Court of Appeal ruled that one of the firm’s former clients had not waived its privilege rights.

In the recent judgment, Master Rowley criticised Dechert’s attempts to bring ENRC’s confidential information into the public domain, citing that ‘third parties were clearly interested in that information’.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk