Legal Business

A record year for ethnic minorities as Clydes, Freshfields, HSF and White & Case partners make 2019 silk round

A record year for ethnic minorities as Clydes, Freshfields, HSF and White & Case partners make 2019 silk round

The number of new Queen’s Counsel (QC) has rebounded after a 2018 dip, including a record 22 appointments from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The proportion of female appointments fell, however, two percentage points to 28% of successful candidates, making up 30 of the 114 to take up silk in total. A total of 108 QCs were appointed last year.

Five solicitors from outside the UK and with practices focused on international arbitration were also appointed to QC. They include Singapore-based Sapna Jhangiani from Clyde & Co, who was one of the QCs of ethnic minority backgrounds appointed, Magic Circle partners Nigel Blackaby from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Washington and Simon Chapman from Herbert Smith Freehills in Hong Kong were appointed.

Andrew de Lotbiniere McDougall from White & Case and Jason Fry from Clifford Chance, both based in Paris, were also named as QCs.

McDougall told Legal Business: ‘I’m honoured to receive such a prestigious award. It’s particularly meaningful to me and a true honour. I just looked at the list quickly and I see some friends and people I know. It’s encouraging and a real privilege to be recognised alongside people who practice in court on a day to day basis and that our practice of international arbitration is considered at the same level.’

Fountain Court had a record year following the appointment of six new QCs, including Giles Wheeler, Edward Levey, Robin Barclay, Chloe Carpenter, Ben Lynch and Tamara Oppenheimer. Other notable chambers such as Essex Court, 4 Pump Court and 1 Crown Office Row did not appear on this year’s list.

The 30 women appointed was said to be ‘comparatively low’ by the chair of the selection panel, Sir Alex Allan: ‘I am pleased that of those women who did apply, almost 60% were successful.’

The overall number of QCs appointed this year increased by five per cent. All appointed QCs will formally become silks at a ceremony on 16 March 2020.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

 

The full list of appointments (in alphabetical order):  

Dominic James Adamson, Temple Garden Chambers

William Andrew Allen, Outer Temple Chambers

William Siward Atkins, Maitland Chambers

Robin Nicholas John Barclay, Fountain Court Chambers

Jonathan James Barnard, Cloth Fair Chambers

Zoë Maria Marsden Barton, Wilberforce Chambers

Nigel Alexander Blackaby, Freshfields

David Anthony Blundell, Landmark Chambers

Christopher Leigh Wilson Boardman, Radcliffe Chambers

Samantha Jane Bowcock, 15 Winckley Square

Michael Antony Brady, 18 St John Street Chambers

Cameron Kennedy Duncan Brown, Red Lion Chambers

Stewart John Buckingham, Quadrant Chambers

Matthew Paul Butt, Three Raymond Building

Henry James Byam-Cook, Twenty Essex

Rebecca Jane Carew Pole, 1 Hare Court

Chloe Carpenter, Fountain Court Chambers

James Frederick Horatio Carpenter, Hailsham Chambers

Jennifer Anne Carter-Manning, 7BR

Simon James Chapman, Herbert Smith Freehills

Allison Jean Clare, Red Lion Chambers

Timothy Donald Collingwood, Serle Court

Ben Lion Cooper, Doughty Street Chambers

Gary Adam Cowen, Falcon Chambers

Nicholas John de la Poer, New Park Court

Marcus Benedict Dignum, 12 King’s Bench Walk

Louis George Doyle, Kings Chambers

Delroy Benell Duncan, Cloisters

Richard Mark Fisher, South Square

Mark Steven Ford, Lincoln House Chambers

Jason Alva Fry, Clifford Chance

Gurdeep Singh Garcha, Citadel Chambers

Peter Seamus Patrick Goatley, No5 Chambers

James Daniel Goldsmith, One Essex Court

Mark Narayan Graffius, 2 Hare Court

Andrew Timothy Grantham, Kings Chambers

Alexander Edward Hall Taylor, 4 New Square

Justin Beresford Higgo, Serle Court

Samantha Hillas, St Johns Buildings

John Leslie Hipkin, Iscoed Chambers

Jamas Rusi Hodivala, Matrix Chambers

Syed Ahmed Izharul Hossain, Temple Court

Frida Hussain, Furnival Chambers

Sapna Jhangiani, Clyde & Co

Leon Samuel Kazakos, 2 Hare Court

Martin Goddard Kingerley, 36 Family

Jennifer Claudia Knight, Two Harcourt Buildings

Adrian Mark Langdale, 7BR

Blair Patricia Leahy, Twenty Essex

Krista Lee, Keating Chambers

Edward Michael Levey, Fountain Court Chambers

Richard Ian Liddell, 4 New Square

Benjamin John Patrick Lynch, Fountain Court Chambers

Scott Edward Lyness, Landmark Chambers

Shantanu Joseph Majumdar, Radcliffe

Roger Mallalieu, 4 New Square

Aileen McColgan, 11KBW

Andrew de Lotbinière McDougall, White & Case

Gerard Patrick McMeel, Quadrant Chambers

John Mehrzad, Littleton Chambers

Julian Robert Milford, 11 KBW

Barbara Mills, 4 Paper Buildings

Peter Mitchell, 29 Bedford Row

Eleni Mitrophanous, Matrix Chambers

Anurag Mohindru, Foundry Chambers

Andrew Matthew Stephen Mold, Wilberforce Chambers

Veronica Allison Munroe, Garden Court Chambers

Charlotte Anne Newell, 5 Kings Bench Walk

Katharine Julia Newton, Old Square Chambers

Andrew James Steedsman Norris, Hogarth Chambers

Harry John William Oliver, 1 Kings Bench Walk

Ijeoma Chinyelu Omambala, Old Square Chambers

Tamara Helen Pasternak Oppenheimer, Fountain Court Chambers

Jane Elizabeth Osborne, 2 Harcourt Buildings

Deshpal Panesar, Old Square Chambers

Conall Patton, One Essex Court

Cleo Perry, 4 Paper Buildings

James Patrick Pickering, Enterprise Chambers

David Richard Pievsky, Blackstone Chambers

Marcus James Pilgerstorfer, 11 KBW

Rajesh Pillai, 3VB

Henry William Stodart Pitchers, No5 Chambers

Sarah Selena Rixar Plowden, Guildhall Chambers

Paul Nikolai Raudnitz, Hollis Whiteman

Stanley Reiz, 2 Bedford Row

Philip Geoffrey Hurry Riches, Twenty Essex

Jeremy John Richmond, Quadrant Chambers

Brendan Roche, 7 Bedford Row Chambers

Adam Julius Rosenthal, Falcon Chambers

Noah Daniel Rubins, Freshfields

Harish Salve, Blackstone Chambers

Jonathan Robert Sampson, Harcourt Chambers

Jonathan Sandiford, St Pauls Chambers

Amanda Claire Savage, 4 New Square

David Luke Scannell, Brick Court Chambers

James Jeffrey Segan, Blackstone Chambers

Katherine Emma Selway, Radcliffe Chambers

Sharif Asim Shivji, 4 Stone Buildings

Stephen John Simblet, Garden Court Chambers

Melanie Denise Simpson, 25 Bedford Row

Adam Speker, 5RB

Heidi Lorraine Stonecliffe, UK Government

Timothy James Storrie, Lincoln House Chambers

Allison Summers, Drystone Chambers

Jacqueline Louise Thomas, Spire Barristers

Andrew James Thornton, Erskine Chambers

Rebecca Louise Tuck, Old Square Chambers

Richard Daniel Wald, 39 Essex Chambers

Henry Warwick, Henderson Chambers

Simon Mark Webster, 1 Hare Court

Colin West, Brick Court

Giles Neil Laurence Wheeler, Fountain Court Chambers

Robert Brychan James Williams, Monckton Chambers

Stephen Wood, Broadway House

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Weil and Mayer Brown scoop leads on Nestlé’s $4bn US ice cream business sale

Dealwatch: Weil and Mayer Brown scoop leads on Nestlé’s $4bn US ice cream business sale

Weil Gotshal & Manges and Mayer Brown have advised on the sale of Nestlé’s US ice cream business to Froneri for $4bn.

Froneri is an ice cream focused joint venture by Nestlé and PAI Partners created in 2016. The deal means that brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Edy’s, Drumstick and Dreyer’s will join its portfolio which already includes Movenpick, Green & Blacks and Cadbury’s ice cream.

Weil advised Froneri with a team led by London private equity partner Jonathan Wood and Boston private equity partner Matthew Goulding. The team also included London managing partner Michael Francis, head of the firm’s London technology and IP transactions practice Barry Fishley and London banking partner Tom Richards.

Mayer Brown advised Nestle with a team led out of the US by partners David Carpenter, John Boelter and Michelle Gross.

Carpenter told Legal Business: ‘Nestlé has already contributed to the ice cream business in different parts of the world through this joint venture. The buyer is actually 50% owned by Nestlé and so it’s moving the ice cream business into a company that has a private equity partner. It will be focused on ice cream rather than being part of a big conglomerate.’

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised private equity firm CVC Capital Partners on the acquisition of a stake in WebPros Group by CVC Fund VII from Oakley Capital Private Equity and other investors.

WebPros is a web hosting automation software provider for server management and includes web hosting platforms cPanel and Plesk and web hosting management and billing software WHMCS.

The Freshfields team was led by global co-head of financial sponsors Charles Hayes, co-head of European leveraged finance Alex Mitchell and corporate and M&A lawyer Vincent Bergin.

Kirkland & Ellis advised Oakley Capital on the sale led by London corporate partners Rory Mullarkey and Jacob Traff as well as Ben Leyendeckerin Munich.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Elsewhere, White & Case advised on the $25.6bn IPO of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), making it the world’s largest IPO. The company began trading on the Saudi Arabian Tadawul Stock Exchange on Wednesday 11 December under TADAWUL: ARAMCO.

The offering included subscriptions from institutions and individuals, comprising of SAR 446bn ($119bn). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sold 3bn shares of Saudi Aramco which accounted for 1.5% Saudi Aramco’s share capital.

The White & Case team was led by Dubai partner Sami Al-Louzi and included London partners Inigo Esteve, capital markets partner Alexander Underwood, Ronan O’Reilly and employment compensation and benefits lawyer Jack Gardener. The Law Office of Megren Al-Shaalan also advised Aramco with a team led by Megren Al-Shaalan and Doug Peel and included London capital markets partner Ibrahim Soumrany.

The $1.7trn valuation makes Saudi Aramco the largest company by market capitalisation. Over 400 White & Case lawyers from around 20 offices advised Saudi Aramco on the transaction.

Latham & Watkins advised the underwriters of Saudi Aramco on non-Saudi law matters. The team was led by New York partners Marc Jaffe and Ian Schuman and included London partner Craig Nethercott. London partners James Inness and Jeremy Green offered advice on corporate matters, Chirag Sanghrajka advised on finance, Rob Moulton advised on regulatory matters while Karl Mah advised on tax.

Prior to the listing, the largest IPO spot was held by Alibaba Group Holding Limited which listed in September 2014 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for $21.8bn.

Finally, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) on the $450m acquisition of a 25.1% stake in Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) from Adani Transmission Limited as well as a shareholder subordinated debt investment by QIA in AEML.

AEML is part of Adani Group, an integrated business conglomerate based in India which includes six publicly traded companies, focusing on resources, logistics, energy and agriculture.

The Cleary team was led by London partners Tihir Sarkar and Nallini Puri.

Puri told Legal Business: ‘QIA is a very big investor to be partnering with. The Adani Group is a big group with lots of diversified interests and historically they’ve engaged in a lot of acquisitions, particularly within India. India’s done less with foreign investors. In some ways this is a very significant partnership for them because they’ve tied up with a very high profile investor.’

AEMl was advised by Indian firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas led by partners from the Mumbai office.

The deal is expected to close in early 2020 subject to customary conditions and regulatory approval.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Freshfields partner exits following internal conduct probe

Freshfields partner exits following internal conduct probe

In a fresh reverse for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer amid the string of disclosures of harassment impacting the profession, a partner at the City giant has exited following an internal investigation.

Nicholas Williams, a partner since 2017 in the Magic Circle firm’s London disputes practice, left the firm on 11 December after the firm launched an internal probe into personal misconduct allegations.

Freshfields said in a statement: ‘We can confirm that following an internal investigation, Nick Williams has left the firm and his last day was 11 December.’

The move comes in the same week Freshfields partnership voted in new enforcement protocols that mean partners who receive a final warning for personal behaviour issues could face an automatic fine equal to 20% of their profit share for 12 months.

The reforms were aimed at curbing harassment of staff and came in the wake of the public embarrassment Freshfields faced in October when the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) fined former partner Ryan Beckwith £35,000 and ordered him to pay £200,000 in legal costs following a high-profile hearing concerning sexual activity with a junior lawyer in his team.

A firm-wide programme to improve culture and behaviour has also resulted in a set of principles – ‘Show respect, be there for one another, be positive role models, and be open with one another’ – as a means of tackling these problems.

As legal regulators make a concerted push to clamp down on toxic working practices and unethical behaviour, there is no sign that the string of #MeToo allegations against major law firms is abating.

A prosecution of Baker McKenzie’s former City head Gary Senior is currently before the SDT revolving around allegations of harassment towards a junior associate.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

For more on the #MeToo problem in the legal profession, read: ‘Full disclosure – How to resolve the profession’s #MeToo problem

Legal Business

Freshfields partnership votes in misconduct penalty as #MeToo continues to overshadow the industry

Freshfields partnership votes in misconduct penalty as #MeToo continues to overshadow the industry

The partnership of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has voted in sweeping reforms to its handling of misbehaviour, including financial penalties, as the #MeToo fallout continues to plague the profession.

The move to establish a conduct committee followed a consultation and  implements new enforcement protocols that mean partners who receive a final warning about their behaviour could face an automatic fine equal to 20% of their profit share for 12 months. The model is similar to those that have been successfully rolled out elsewhere in professional services, such as accountancy and consultancy firms.

The new rules will require changes to the firm’s members’ agreement. The objectives are: ‘aligning the firm’s partner conduct and disciplinary process across the firm; supporting the objectives of the culture and behaviour programme; and meeting the expectations of our clients and regulators’.

Freshfields will establish a conduct committee – a subcommittee of the partnership council – to oversee investigations and decide outcomes.

The members’ agreement will also be updated to differentiate between forced retirement for misconduct reasons and other reasons including underperformance, enabling the partnership council to suspend a partner who is the subject of an investigation.

The reforms came in the wake of the public embarrassment Freshfields faced in October when the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) fined former partner Ryan Beckwith £35,000 and ordered him to pay £200,000 in legal costs following a high-profile hearing concerning sexual activity with a junior lawyer in his team.

Beckwith was suspended last December and resigned in October after the tribunal found he knew or ought to have known that the junior member of staff was intoxicated and her judgement impaired and that he knew or ought to have known that his conduct was inappropriate.

The tribunal found Beckwith’s behaviour was in breach of principles two and six of the solicitors’ code of conduct, requiring solicitors to ‘act with integrity’ and ‘behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services’.

Freshfields’ protocol will include guidance on what constitutes improper behaviour and provide clarity on what circumstances will be considered to mitigate an outcome, and what are aggravating factors.

A firm-wide programme to improve culture and behaviour has also resulted in a set of principles – ‘Show respect, be there for one another, be positive role models, and be open with one another’ – as a means of tackling these problems.

At the time of the consultation, Senior partner Edward Braham said: ‘We are committed to improving behaviour and inclusiveness. For more than a year we have been running a global behaviours programme to drive culture change, which includes reviewing and adjusting our HR processes, governance and systems across the firm. We want to ensure that positive behaviour is consistently valued and that inappropriate behaviour is called out and acted upon. The plans for a conduct committee and protocol are part of this ongoing programme across the firm.’

The #MeToo spotlight earlier this month became trained on Baker McKenzie’s former London managing partner Gary Senior and the firm itself, with Senior admitting to the SDT that his behaviour after a firm event in 2012 amounted to sexual harassment towards a junior associate, but maintaining he did not believe at the time that his advances were unwanted.

Meanwhile, Bakers stands accused of ‘collective failure’ for the way it handled the allegations, with the firm’s former litigation partner, Tom Cassels, and former HR head, Martin Blackburn, are also facing prosecution for their roles in leading the initial investigation into Senior’s misconduct. The case was adjourned after Blackburn fractured his hip and is set to resume on Monday 16 December.

Nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Deal View: Freshfields silences critics with four-piece Cleary team but can it keep up the pressure on Wall St?

Deal View: Freshfields silences critics with four-piece Cleary team but can it keep up the pressure on Wall St?

‘Supercharging it’ and ‘pretty wild’ are not superlatives usually cropping up on your average conference call with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. If the conversation with Ethan Klingsberg (pictured), the Wall Street M&A star that led a four-partner team exit from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, was not very Freshfields, Edward Braham’s unrestrained enthusiasm for the hires when the news broke in October was similarly striking for the unfailingly understated senior partner. Reinforcing how much Freshfields had riding on this, Braham was in New York personally supervising the move upon announcement.

Even critics of Freshfields’ slow-and-steady US strategy are applauding the Cleary haul – the prominent M&A veteran Klingsberg, Meredith Kotler, Pamela Marcogliese and Paul Tiger – as the kind of daring statement that has been previously missing. ‘I admire them for having a go,’ admits one ex-partner, now at a US firm, expressing the consensus view.

Legal Business

Freshfields fuels New York M&A growth with four more Cleary lawyers

Freshfields fuels New York M&A growth with four more Cleary lawyers

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has added four more lawyers to its ten-partner Wall Street M&A team, with three counsel and one associate joining the City firm from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

The move announced today (5 December) comes just over a month after the firm hired Cleary M&A veteran Ethan Klingsberg and partners Meredith Kotler, Pamela Marcogliese and Paul Tiger, in what it hopes will amount to a breakthrough for its US business after years of struggle.

Andrea Basham, Elizabeth Bieber and Zheng Zhou are joining Freshfields as counsel, while Chase Lax will move to Freshfields as an associate.

The additions continue what is the most significant US transactional investment for the firm since the 2014 hire of former Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson senior partner and head of global capital markets Valerie Ford Jacob along with two other corporate partners – Michael Levitt and Paul Tropp. Peter Lyons, Shearman & Sterling’s former global public M&A head, arrived the same week, with the firm willing to pay select recruits above the top of its lockstep.

Recent US mandates out of Freshfields’ New York office included advising Starbucks Corporation on the $7.15bn sale of its Consumer Packaged Goods and Foodservice business to Nestlé, Novartis on the $5.3bn acquisition of the assets associated with Xiidra, and the London Stock Exchange Group on the $27bn acquisition of Refinitiv from Blackstone.

The latest New York transactional push comes at a time when Freshfields is gearing up to elect new leadership amid a wider debate about its US practice. There has been speculation that senior partner Ed Braham, who took a personal hand in the hires, might use them as ammunition to consider another run at the role, but an influential camp has been arguing for a new approach. Among the names floated is Helmut Bergmann, the German managing partner of continental Europe, as part of a reformist leadership team including figures like Alan Mason, David Sonter and Claire Wills.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Freshfields recruits Linklaters’ alternative legal services head as chief operating officer

Freshfields recruits Linklaters’ alternative legal services head as chief operating officer

Linklaters’ global head of alternative legal services has quit just months into his role to become chief operating officer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Mark Higgs (pictured), the former head of Ashurst Advance who was hired by Linklaters in April to spearhead its flexible lawyering platform, Re:link, is joining Freshfields in December. He had been chief operating officer of Re:link and became global head of alternative legal services at Linklaters in October.

In a statement, Linklaters said Higgs had joined to the firm to support the launch of the firm’s flexible resourcing platform. Linklaters director of legal operations Stewart Chippindale will continue to provide senior leadership and strategic direction for alternative resourcing, including Re:link, innovation and knowledge & learning.

The firm said: ‘Since launch, Re:link has significantly surpassed its client and consultant targets and its experienced team will continue to provide our clients and our practices with market leading support. We thank Mark for his help on the project.’

At the time of his appointment at Linklaters, Higgs told Legal Business: ‘I have been speaking with Gideon [Moore, managing partner] and members of the board throughout 2018 as they shaped their idea. To join a firm like Linklaters to launch and lead a new area was a one-off opportunity.’

Claire Wills, Freshfields’ London managing partner, commented: ‘We’re delighted to have Mark on board at what is an incredibly exciting time for the London office, as we prepare for our move to 100 Bishopsgate. His experience will be invaluable in helping us drive forwards our business and operations strategy.’

For Freshfields, the hire is another signal of its intent to increase its firepower on both sides of the Atlantic following the hire last month of a four-partner M&A team in Wall Street from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

The team – led by prominent M&A veteran Ethan Klingsberg and including partners Meredith Kotler, Pamela Marcogliese and Paul Tiger – is viewed as a trophy acquisition for Freshfields’ US corporate offering, which has struggled to gain momentum in recent years.

It follows the departure, however, of the Manchester-based global head of service and transformation who became chief information officer last December, Jon Grainger, to Slater and Gordon as chief information officer last month.

Elsewhere, the former chief executive of Peerpoint, Allen & Overy’s new law operations, Richard Punt quit the Magic Circle firm for Thomson Reuters in January.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Deal watch: Simpson Thacher conjures Blackstone and Alibaba mandates as Linklaters and CC lead on British Steel takeover

Deal watch: Simpson Thacher conjures Blackstone and Alibaba mandates as Linklaters and CC lead on British Steel takeover

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has picked up two high-profile mandates advising Blackstone on the acquisition of MagicLab alongside the Hong Kong listing of Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba.

Elsewhere, Linklaters and Clifford Chance (CC) led on Chinese steelmaker Jingye Steel and Iron’s acquisition of British Steel.

Alibaba this week said it was set to raise up to $13.4bn in a secondary listing in Hong Kong, including an international offering of 487.5m ordinary shares and a Hong Kong public offering of 12.5m ordinary shares.

Simpson Thacher is advising Alibaba with a team led by Chris Wong and Daniel Fertig in Hong Kong. Chinese firm Fangda Partners is also advising the group on legal matters pertaining to Chinese law.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, meanwhile, is advising the underwriters with a team led by M&A partners Teresa Ko, Calvin Lai and Xu Jason. King & Wood Mallesons is advising the underwriters on Chinese law.

Earlier in the week, Jingye Steel agreed to acquire British Steel’s steelworks in Scunthorpe, UK mills at Teeside Beam Mill, Skinningrove and its subsidiary businesses in France and the Netherlands. Following months of uncertainty, the sale is said to have saved 24,000 jobs in the UK. Jingye is planning on investing £1.2 billion over the next decade as well as upgrading plants and machinery.

Linklaters advised Jignye with a team led by London corporate partners Chris Staples and Hugo Stolkin, Hong Kong partner Crystal Chen and restructuring and insolvency partner Matthew Harding.

Staples commented: ‘This is a landmark deal with Jingye’s commitment to significant investment in British Steel ensuring the long-term future of the business.’

The official receiver and special managers of British Steel were advised by CC, with partners Philip Hertz, David Lewis, Nick Rees and Iain White in London leading on the transaction. Paris partner Laurent Schoenstein and Amsterdam Partner Greg Crookes led on the sale of British Steel France Rail Holdings and the sale of FN Steel.

Jingye is a multi-industry group specialising in steel and iron as well as in powder metallurgy, 3D printing, tourism, hotels, and real estate. It distributes to 80 countries, producing 15 million tonnes of steel a year for an annual turnover of about £10bn.

The deal, signed on 10 November 2019, is subject to conditions such as regulatory approvals and employee consultation procedures.

Simpson Thacher also won a mandate advising Blackstone on its proposed acquisition of a majority stake in MagicLab for the value of approximately $3bn.MagicLab owns and operates dating and social networking apps including Badoo, Bumble, Chappy and Lumen. Founder and CEO Andrey Andreev is selling his stake and stepping down from his role as CEO and will be replaced by Whitney Wolfe Herd.

The Simpson Thacher team was led by M&A partner Anthony Vernace and included M&A partner Robert Langdon and corporate partner Clare Gaskell.

Baker McKenzie is advising the majority shareholders of MagicLab. The team is led by M&A partner David Scott and includes partners Leif King and Lawrence Lee in Silicon Valley.

Scott commented: ‘MagicLab is a fantastic business, with terrific brands and huge potential. The Blackstone acquisition is a great opportunity to further develop the platform. It’s been a real pleasure to partner with Andrey and the MagicLab team on this one.’

The deal is expected to close early next year.

Finally, Latham & Watkins advised Interswitch and its shareholders on a partnership with Visa. Visa will acquire a minority equity stake in the business which is valued at $1bn, making it one of the most valuable African Fintech businesses.

The team was led by London corporate partners Kem Ihenacho and Linzi Thomas and included partners James Inness and Christian McDermott. A Morrison & Foerster team led by London corporate partner Andrew Boyd advised Visa. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Beckwith ruling a wake-up call for profession as regulators close in on #MeToo complaints

Beckwith ruling a wake-up call for profession as regulators close in on #MeToo complaints

Ruling sends strong message but Nathalie Tidman finds unease over watchdog’s shifting remit

October’s prosecution of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ryan Beckwith highlights awkward truths for the profession as regulators increasingly target claims of harassment and sexual misconduct in law. The ruling on 10 October, the most high-profile scalp yet after a string of embarrassing post-#MeToo disclosures for the UK legal profession over the last 18 months, has already produced a bout of soul searching across the City along with many lurid headlines.

Legal Business

Freshfields secures trophy four-partner US deal team as debate over leadership continues

Freshfields secures trophy four-partner US deal team as debate over leadership continues

In what it hopes will signal a breakthrough for its US business, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has secured the hire of a four-partner M&A team in Wall Street from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

The hire of the team – led by prominent M&A veteran Ethan Klingsberg and including partners Meredith Kotler, Pamela Marcogliese and Paul Tiger – will be seen as a trophy acquisition for Freshfields’ US corporate offering, which has struggled to gain momentum in recent years.

Senior partner Edward Braham (pictured) took a personal hand in the hires, which come after mounting calls from influential City partners for Freshfields to step up its efforts in the vast US deal market. While Cleary is still best known for securities and antitrust work in New York, the group will be viewed as  more-than-credible additions from a prestigious M&A stable.

It is the most significant US transactional move since the firm made its first substantive foray into New York corporate in 2014 when it secured the hire of former Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson senior partner and head of global capital markets Valerie Ford Jacob along with two other corporate partners – Michael Levitt and Paul Tropp. The arrival of Peter Lyons, Shearman & Sterling’s former global public M&A head, the same week and the willingness to pay select recruits above the top of its lockstep were signals that Freshfields meant business.

The hires will also go some way to answering questions over Freshfields’ succession in New York once managing partner Lyons retires, with the 55-year-old Klingberg taking over Freshfields’ US corporate practice.

Braham told Legal Business: ‘We have been growing in the US for 20 years. We are top tier in antitrust, white collar enforcement and arbitration. We started building out the US M&A practice five years ago and these hires take us squarely into the top-tier of the US M&A market.’

Braham pointed to the strong cultural fit of the new team: ‘It feels like they’ve been partners here forever. They have fabulous practices and are aligned in terms of practice, culture and ambition. This is a unique proposition.’

Klingsberg set out his reasons for joining the City giant: ‘The thing that attracted me to Freshfields is that it is structured and focused strategically. They insist on being number one for M&A. They’ve shown it in other areas and pursued it relentlessly.’

‘I have a big client base in the Bay Area, clients including Google and Levi Strauss,’ Klingsberg added. ‘We are going to continue to leverage our reputation in the area.  There are no other firms focused there with such a strong antitrust practice. This is not an ordinary course to lateral development. This is pretty wild.’

The London-born firm has secured recent US mandates out of New York including advising Starbucks Corporation on the $7.15bn sale of its Consumer Packaged Goods and Foodservice business to Nestlé, Novartis on the $5.3bn acquisition of the assets associated with Xiidra, and the London Stock Exchange Group on the $27bn acquisition of Refinitiv from Blackstone.

The additions come at a key moment for Freshfields, which is gearing up to appoint new leadership amid a wider debate about its strategic focus in general and its US practice in particular. There has been some speculation that the trophy team hire could provide capital for Braham to consider another run at the senior partner role.

However, an influential camp has been arguing for a new approach, with talk in recent weeks still focusing on a run for senior partner from Helmut Bergmann, the Berlin-based managing partner of continental Europe. Bergmann has been touted as part of a reformist leadership team including figures like Alan Mason, David Sonter and Claire Wills. Braham refused to comment on his intentions regarding leadership, insisting the team hires were ‘utterly unrelated’.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

For an in-depth look at Freshfields, see our cover feature from July