Legal Business

Dechert gains Singapore licence after eight-month wait as PwC completes local tie-up

Dechert and PwC step into Singapore as global players sustain push into key Asian hub

This summer saw continued interest by advisers in the Asian legal market, as top-50 US firm Dechert finally received the green light to open an office in Singapore eight months after applying for a Foreign Legal Practice licence. Meanwhile, Big Four accountancy giant PwC made a move to enhance its legal offering in the Asia-Pacific region, having entered into a tie-up in Singapore with local firm Camford Law.

Legal Business

Accounts for Dechert’s UK LLP show revenues and profit falling

Accounts for Dechert’s UK LLP show revenues and profit falling

Profits at Dechert’s UK LLP dropped 21% from £35m to £27.7m for the 12 months to 31 December 2013, according to filings recently made to Companies House, with total revenue falling to £67.7m from £70.0m.

The sharp fall is down to a reverse in UK fees which, during the course of the year, slipped 9% from £55.88m to £50.97m, while staff and property costs rose hitting the LLP’s profitability. This resulted in the office’s highest earning partner experiencing a fall in take home pay from £2.9m in 2012 to £2.3m in 2013.

With costs increasing across the board, staffing outlay added more than £1m alone as the London office added seven associates and counsel plus nine new administration assistants, seeing operating expenses rise to £39.3m from £34.5m.

The drop in fee income at the LLP was lessened by an 18% rise in fees generated outside of the UK, which rose from £14.1m to £16.8m.

The office’s aggressive hiring strategy that defined 2010-2012, a period that saw it take 25 staff from now defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf, has also ended, with the monthly average of partners at the firm falling from 43 to 41. Records at Companies House show that tax partner David Gubbay, has also recently been removed from the partnership.

Dechert, which was among the first to reveal its financials for 2013, saw its global revenue up by 6.6% to $777.2m from $729m. The firm has been expanding rapidly in the last 12 months and recently secured a Foreign Legal Practice licence to open in Singapore, marking its fourth Asian office.

Legal Business

Dechert gains Singapore licence after 8 month wait

Dechert gains Singapore licence after 8 month wait

Eight months after applying for a Foreign Legal Practice licence to open in Singapore, US law firm Dechert has been given the nod to launch its fourth Asian office.

Partner Dean Collins, who moves across from US rival O’Melveny & Myers, will be the office’s sole lawyer due to delays in obtaining licences for two associates who will continue working out of Hong Kong until authorisation is granted. Collins, a fund formation lawyer who sat in O’Melveny & Myers’ investment funds and securitization practice group in Singapore, was previously of private equity house Actis, which focuses on investing in emerging markets, and has had stints as a consultant at UBS and Merrill Lynch.

The Philadelphia-headquartered firm’s latest opening comes two years after an international push that saw Dechert open offices in Chicago, Dubai, Frankfurt and Kazakhstan.

The firm is once again looking to push its international credentials and last month added two partners in Europe, hiring Olswang’s head of the real estate Eleni Skordaki in London and financial services lawyer Johan Terblanche from Loyens & Loeff in Luxemburg. The opening in Singapore marks the firm’s 27th office, 13 of which are in the US.

A number of law firms have recently sought to bolster their capability in Singapore by relocating top talent, including Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer’s head of arbitration Lucy Reed and Latham & Watkins’ corporate duo Rod Brown and Luke Grubb.

Legal Business

Olswang’s head of real estate finance quits for Dechert

Olswang’s head of real estate finance quits for Dechert

Olswang’s head of real estate finance Eleni Skordaki has quit the firm after nearly ten years to join Dechert’s City finance and real estate group.

Skordaki specialises in advising banks in real estate financings and restructurings.Last year, she advised Santander and Hypothekenbank Frankfurt on a £177m acquisition facility provided to Legal & General UK Property Income Fund. Prior to joining Olswang in October 2004, Skordaki was a senior lawyer at Allen & Overy for four years.

Her hire follows the top 35 UK firm’s growth of its financial services practice in Luxembourg with the hire of partner Johan Terblanche, who joined from Dutch firm Loyens & Loeff.

Terblanche has experience of advising managers and investors of investment funds, focusing specifically on alternative funds.

Dechert in February this year was among the first of the US firms to reveal its financials for 2013, with revenue up by 6.6% to $777.2m from $729m.

The firm has been expanding more generally in Europe, including launching a life sciences practice in Frankfurt in June, with the hire of Ruediger Herrmann, former corporate head at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

Dechert chief executive officer Daniel O’Donnell (pictured) said: ‘We are very pleased to have both Eleni and Johan join us. Their experience helps us expand in two key practice areas. They are a welcome addition to our firm.’

Legal Business

Early numbers in US results season confirms solid growth as Shearman and Dechert lead the pack

US leaders grind out growth in 2013 despite ‘anaemic economy’

Despite having to contend with what Latham & Watkins’ outgoing global chairman Bob Dell described to Legal Business as a still ‘anaemic economy’ last year, early results among the US law firms to disclose their 2013 financials are solid, with many forecasting a return to substantive growth this year.

Dechert was among the first to reveal its financials for 2013, with revenue up by 6.6% to $777.2m from $729m.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: DAC Beachcroft, RPC, K&L Gates and Reed Smith boost London offering with lateral hires

Revolving Doors: DAC Beachcroft, RPC, K&L Gates and Reed Smith boost London offering with lateral hires

London has been the focus of a series of hires for top national, City and US firms including DAC Beachcroft, RPC, K&L Gates and Reed Smith, as Dechert has also boosted its Moscow offering with a hire of a partner from Hogan Lovells.

Adrian Williams joins DAC Beachcroft’s corporate insurance team from reinsurance giant Swiss Re, where he was general counsel for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and was based in Zurich. The firm has also bolstered its real estate team in London with the hire of Nathan East from Hempsons. East specialises in advising medical professionals, care providers and the NHS.

‘We are delighted to welcome Nathan to the firm. His appointment adds an important extra dimension to our existing health practice with his considerable experience of advising GPs,’ said Eve Gregory, head of the firm’s health real estate team.

Elsewhere, 1,548-lawyer firm Reed Smith continues to grow its London office with the appointment of Eoin O’Shea as a partner in the firm’s global regulatory disputes practice based in London. Joining from Lawrence Graham (LG), O’Shea is known for his disputes work which includes economic crime, corporate crime, fraud and corruption disputes and investigations. He spent six years at the commercial bar and another six years with Simmons & Simmons before joining LG. O’Shea has led on litigation for major pharmaceutical companies relating to blackmail and other crimes.

‘Eoin’s reputation and his broad experience, across our key industry sectors and geographies, will ensure that Reed Smith is even better placed to assist clients facing the rapidly evolving regulatory landscape,’ said Richard Spafford (pictured), head of Reed Smith’s commercial disputes group for Europe and the Middle East.

‘O’Shea told Legal Business: ‘The reason I joined Reed Smith is because they are very strong in litigation worldwide. For my specialism in bribery and corruption it helps to have a strong group in the US.’

Reed Smith hired banking and finance partner Claude Brown from Clifford Chance in April this year.

Meanwhile, K&L Gates, which dropped three places in this year’s Global 100 to 25 with a turnover of $1,06bn, has added Anthony Fine as a partner in its energy, infrastructure and resources (EIR) practice in London. Fine joins from White & Case where he was head of the PPP/PFI practice in the firm’s energy, infrastructure, project and asset finance group.

‘With his track record in projects and infrastructure and his significant market connections, I am delighted that Anthony has joined our growing practice,’ said Tony Griffiths, London managing partner of K&L Gates.

Also growing in London with a number of recent heavyweight hires is RPC, which has brought in partner Sukh Ahark from Davenport Lyons, where he was head of banking and finance.

Ahark spent eight years at legacy Herbert Smith and has also worked for Pinsent Masons and Hammonds. Recent mandates he has advised on include luxury building company Harrison Varma Limited on the financing of a development of 20 new residential apartments, where the financing was provided by Barclays and Coutts.

‘We’re very pleased to have Sukh on board. His practice neatly complements our existing broad-based corporate offering, and his outgoing, unfussy and approachable style of doing business fits very well with how we operate at RPC,’ said Jonathan Watmough, managing partner of RPC.

Sukh’s appointment follows RPC’s hire of a three partner corporate team from Wragge & Co at the start of the year, consisting of former managing partner Richard Haywood, the head of corporate Maurice Dwyer, and David Marshall, a private equity specialist.

In Russia meanwhile, global top 50 US firm Dechert has recruited Taras Oksyuk from Hogan Lovells where he was head of real estate to lead the firm’s real estate and construction practice in Moscow. Deals that Oksyuk has advised on include leading Russian property fund, O1 Properties, on its $500m sale of a business centre in Moscow to Kaspersky lab.

Laura Brank, Moscow managing partner and head of Dechert’s Russia & CIS practice said: ‘We are very pleased that Taras is joining us. He is a highly regarded Russian real estate and construction expert who will bring a wealth of experience to our corporate and real estate practices in Moscow.’


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Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Olswang, Macfarlanes, Dechert, DWF and Weightmans in strategic partner hires

Revolving Doors: Olswang, Macfarlanes, Dechert, DWF and Weightmans in strategic partner hires

Macfarlanes and Dechert have made key strategic hires in the past few days while top 35, 382-lawyer UK firm Olswang has bolstered its City tax practice with the arrival of partner Andrew Quale from Eversheds.

Specialising in employee incentives and rewards, Quale has experience of advising multinational companies on the implementation of global incentive plans.

‘Andrew has already demonstrated an ability to build and develop a successful share schemes practice and team, despite a severe downturn in corporate work in the last few years,’ said Mark Joscelyne, head of tax at Olswang. The firm last week revealed a rise in revenue of 3% while profits per equity partner dropped by 4%.

This is the second partner Eversheds has lost this week, after it was announced earlier this week that equity capital markets head Neil Matthews is leaving to join Field Fisher Waterhouse in August.

Elsewhere, 289-lawyer top 35 UK firm Macfarlanes bucked the trend towards US firms tapping the UK’s finest with the hire of Shearman & Sterling real estate partner, Clare Breeze.

Breeze, whose clients include developers and investors such as Stanhope, AIG and Argent Estates, is Macfarlanes second hire from a US firm this year after taking on Akin Gump London investment funds partner Simon Thomas in February.

‘We are delighted to welcome Clare to a firm and practice area that are both thriving in these difficult markets. Real estate is a key area for us and we believe that significant opportunities exist for continued growth,’ said Macfarlanes senior partner Charles Martin.

Meanwhile, top 50 Global 100 US firm Dechert has bolstered its corporate practice in Paris with the hire of Matthieu Grollemund from fellow US firm Orrick Herrington & Suttcliffe.

A private equity specialist, Grollemund’s work includes CVC’s high profile Formula One IPO in which he has represented the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. His clients include a range of private equity houses and hedge funds including Wendel, 3i France and Fondations Capital and US/UK based firms including Bessemer, Accel and Index.

‘We are delighted to welcome Matthieu, who will allow us to expand our corporate practice and meet the current needs of our French and foreign clients both on inbound and outbound transactions,’ said Alain Decombe, managing partner of Dechert’s Paris office.

“Matthieu’s private equity experience is very complimentary to that of our global corporate team, which should result in additional practice synergies across Dechert’s international network,” said Henry Nassau, chair of Dechert’s global corporate practice.

In other news, acquisitive DWF, which last week reported a rise in turnover of 84% to £188m, has bolstered its corporate practice in Birmingham with the appointment of Squire Sanders partner Christian Lowis. His arrival brings DWF’s corporate offering to over 100 fee earners, with Lowis himself being a public company specialist. He has experience in M&A, disposals, takeovers and corporate governance.

‘As a team providing highly valued counsel to some of Britain’s biggest businesses, it is imperative that we continue to recruit only the best to our ranks,’ said Stephen Houston, national head of corporate at DWF.

The appointment of Lowis comes after DWF confirmed a redundancy consultation at the end of last month affecting up to 80 roles across Manchester, Coventry, Teeside and London.

Having revealed a rather more modest but respectable turnover increase of 6.4% this year, UK top 50 Weightmans has continued its run of lateral hires with the appointment of construction partner Tim Mould in the firm’s London office. Mould was a founding partner of boutique firm Hannah & Mould and specialises in complex construction disputes both in the UK and abroad.

‘We are delighted that Tim is joining the firm. He is a high calibre lawyer and true specialist in his field and brings a wealth of experience in both domestic and international work,’ said Charles Tomlinson, national head of construction and engineering at Weightmans.


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Legal Business

Rival firms benefit from imminent Dewey collapse in City

With troubled US firm Dewey & LeBoeuf on the brink of collapse, a number of firms have already stepped in to boost their City offerings by providing homes to small groups of partners. Twenty-four of the firm’s 33 London partners had plans to leave the firm at press time.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has emerged as the most acquisitive firm in London, taking six former Dewey partners in the capital, including its former London managing partner Peter Sharp.