Legal Business

Buyout star Adrian Maguire to join Kirkland in body blow to Freshfields

Buyout star Adrian Maguire to join Kirkland in body blow to Freshfields

One of the most touted private equity names in the City, Adrian Maguire, has quit Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to join Kirkland & Ellis just over a year after his former colleague David Higgins made the same move.

Freshfields-bred and regarded as a loyalist to the firm, Maguire is leaving the Magic Circle outfit after more than two decades in what will be seen as a notable setback for its attempts to limit the damage of Higgins’ $10m move in December 2017.

For Kirkland it is another significant step forward in its attempts to bulk up its European M&A firepower. Clients of the highly-regarded Maguire include Cinven, Carlyle and Advent International.

The US firm, which last year became the highest grossing in the world as turnover hit $3.165bn, recently made another step in this direction, recruiting a corporate duo from Linklaters to launch its second continental base in Paris.

The firm’s profit per equity partner now sits at $4.7m, giving it the chance to offer huge packages to marquee deal partners.

Coupled with the hire of Higgins, Maguire’s move also sees the Chicago-based giant turn to more mainstream deal advisers, a move reflected in the anointment of Jon Ballis as chair, who is expected to usher a more consensual style than current chair Jeffrey Hammes when he takes over in 2020.

A spokesperson for Freshfields said: ‘Adrian has been a valued friend and colleague over the course of his career with us and we wish him all the best in his new role. We have had a phenomenal year advising clients in 2018, and the strength and depth of our private equity practice is second to none. Adrian’s departure does not change that.’

Maguire took a six-month sabbatical from Freshfields from June to November last year, and a partner at the Magic Circle firm pointed out that the team had its best year ever despite Maguire’s absence. Highly-rated players still at the firm include partner Charles Hayes.

Yet the symbolism of the move for the City legal scene is hard to overstate. If even a Magic Circle loyalist like Maguire can be persuaded to switch to a US rival, fresh questions will be raised about the London elite’s ability to retain key talent. Freshfields had in 2017 gone through a shake-up of its partnership designed to help it keep its star partners from the clutches of higher-paying US rivals. This latest departures suggests it was too little, too late.

For more on Kirkland & Ellis’ meteoric rise, see ‘Wrecking ball’ (£)

Legal Business

Deal watch: Busy year-end as Japanese group buys Swiss power grid and Malaysian funds invest in Battersea

Deal watch: Busy year-end as Japanese group buys Swiss power grid and Malaysian funds invest in Battersea

City deal teams are having a busy run-up to Christmas, with Baker McKenzie, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Addleshaw Goddard and Linklaters leading on two multibillion-dollar deals.

Bakers’ London private equity head David Allen and corporate partner Jannan Crozier led a team advising Hitachi as the Japanese conglomerate acquired 80.1% of Swiss giant ABB’s power grid division for around $6.4bn.

Hitachi’s largest ever acquisition, with an enterprise value of $11bn including net debt, saw Freshfields’ M&A partners Piers Prichard Jones and Stephen Hewes advise ABB, which will retain control of 19.9% of a business spread across more than 100 countries and employing over 130,000 people.

‘The impact of this deal will be felt for generations to come,’ Crozier told Legal Business, pointing to the ability of the Japanese group to combine its technology with the infrastructure acquired from ABB and bring energy to areas of the world where it is more difficult to get to. ‘They will be able to revolutionise the way power is brought to consumers.’

Swiss firm Homburger’s M&A partners Claude Lambert and David Oser also acted for ABB, which is looking to simplify its business structure and focus on automation technology.

The Swiss group is able to require Hitachi to buy the remaining 19.9% of the power grid business in three years’ time. Under a so called ‘put and call’ provision, Hitachi will also be able to require ABB to sell its remaining stake in the business.

‘In the short term we will provide the maximum stability to the company through this joint venture, but in three years’ time we will have the flexibility to do that,’ Crozier said. The Bakers team was supported by Tokyo partners Akifusa Takada and Yutaka Kimura.

The acquisition caps off a busy 2018 for Bakers, which was active on numerous large deals over the last few months. Earlier in December the firm acted for Unilever on its £3.1bn acquisition of malted drink brand Horlicks from GlaxoSmithKline.

Elsewhere, the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station in London provided rich pickings for a trio of City firms as Malaysia’s asset manager Permodalan Nasional Berhad and state pension fund The Employees Provident Fund took a £1.6bn stake in the £9bn project.

Addleshaws’ real estate partner Simon Tager led the team acting for Battersea Power Station Development Company on the sale of the commercial assets of phase two of the project, including a six-acre site hosting the former coal power station on the south bank of the river Thames. Addleshaws’ Leona Ahmed, Luke Harvey, Hugh Lauritsen and Lee Sheldon also worked on the deal, while the buyers instructed Linklaters’ real estate partner Patrick Plant.

Phase two, which will include Apple’s new UK headquarters, is due to complete by the end of 2020.

Legal Business

Comment: Women redefining City law – a few teachable moments and the odd necessary evil

Comment: Women redefining City law – a few teachable moments and the odd necessary evil

When high-profile GCs still talk of being mistaken for a PA (as BT’s Sabine Chalmers was not that long ago), it’s a reminder of how much more progress needs to be made to clear the path to the top for women in law.

Yes, there has been improvement over the last ten years. According to the panel of female partners and in-house speakers taking part in last month’s Legal Business/Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer reception championing women in law, the grip of the boy’s club in the City is loosening. Slowly.

While women are exposed to less blatant harassment and marginalisation in the workplace than even five years ago, the striking lack of diversity at the upper echelons of the profession highlights how little change there has been in private practice.

True, the situation is very different at in-house teams, which are the direct beneficiaries of law firms haemorrhaging talented mid-level associates for careers that offer more autonomy and recognition. While it’s easy to imagine that in a decade female GCs in the FTSE 100 will outnumber men, leading law firms will be lucky to get to 30% female partnership ratios by then.

Insight on what these dynamics mean came from our all-star panel at The Ned in late November in a debate in front of more than 80 guests. Our panellists – Chalmers, Freshfields partner Natasha Good, Funding Circle GC Lucy Vernall, Travers Smith partner Lucie Cawood and CVC legal head Lauren Livingston – put forward a range of thoughts which will be fully reported in the next issue of Legal Business.

Ahead of that, here is some of their key advice for aspiring female lawyers:

  1. Have faith in your own abilities. Male dominance is not the only obstacle women face: imposter syndrome is a reality for many women – even some of the most successful.
  2. Don’t feel you need to fundamentally change who you are to succeed. Partners, GCs and law-firm leaders have many different styles and experiences.
  3. Do self promote – it may be an evil of modern business life but it’s a necessary evil.
  4. When there are difficulties, take control of what you can change yourself and don’t wait for the company/a white knight to fix things for you.
  5. Build a support network and ask for help when you need it.
  6. Don’t take everything on to prove yourself – it will be taken for granted and soon forgotten anyway. Instead, learn to prioritise and delegate. High-flying careers require work on high-impact projects.
  7. Find a role model or mentor – male or female. Men can have a big positive impact on your career, whether that’s colleagues championing you internally or husbands or partners putting their own career on the back burner to look after children.
  8. Clients and law firms remain in a stand off on the related issues of gender diversity, flexible working and deadlines. The profession will only move past that if there is frank dialogue and compromises on both sides. For example, GCs should accept that discounted business-as-usual work should come with more flexible expectations on response times. Law firms, meanwhile, should get better at providing genuine team-coverage for key clients, rather than deferring to one or two senior-lawyer contacts who cannot always be available.

What remains clear is that this debate is far from over and that patience among younger lawyers with the pace of progress is fast running out. Let’s all do better.

Legal Business

Stars and stripes in their eyes – assessing the US ambitions of A&O and Freshfields

Stars and stripes in their eyes – assessing the US ambitions of A&O and Freshfields

Nathalie Tidman looks at the struggle for the City elite as US players dominate home and away

‘People like me, making the switch from the Magic Circle to a US firm – a Kirkland, a Latham, a White & Case – did so because being a powerhouse in the US is critical to becoming a truly global law firm.’

Legal Business

‘Going gangbusters’: Freshfields’ woes continue as corporate partner Qureshi joins Fried Frank

‘Going gangbusters’: Freshfields’ woes continue as corporate partner Qureshi joins Fried Frank

A further exit from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s City bench has seen corporate and capital markets partner Ashar Qureshi join the London offices of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.

The move sees the well-respected Qureshi leave the Magic Circle firm after four years as a partner in its global transactions practice.  The US securities veteran was seen as a significant string to the bow of Freshfields’ US-qualified offering when he joined in 2014.

At Fried Frank, Qureshi will head the EMEA global transactions team in a move designed to bolster the firm’s cross-border transactional capability. His focus will be on international corporate transactions, including capital markets, M&A and corporate finance.

Qureshi is well-versed in acting for financial institutions, corporates and governments on IPOs, equity and debt securities, including high-yield, as well as hedge fund and private equity transactions and structures, rights offerings restructurings and privatisations.

Mark Mifsud, managing partner of Fried Frank’s London office, told Legal Business: ‘Ashar is an extremely talented lawyer with ambidextrous skills spanning transactions and capital markets. His hire allows us to provide bandwidth and flexibility to the corporate practice, which is going gangbusters at the moment.

Mifsud added: ‘We consider ourselves best in breed for asset management advisory and want to achieve the same thing with capital markets and transactional. We have more irons in the fire – more hires are anticipated – so watch this space.’

Before Freshfields, Qureshi worked in several client-side roles, as a director at Hanson Asset Management, founding partner of NAYA Capital, and executive vice chairman and CEO of Renaissance Group and Renaissance Asset Managers, respectively.

He was also a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton for more than a decade, with a total of 20 years under his belt at the Wall Street firm.

Freshfields has in recent months become no stranger to highly-regarded partner exits. Earlier this month, Freshfields-bred Reza Mohtashami QC quit after 19 years to pursue a career at litigation boutique Three Crowns.

Another high-profile departure for the City giant saw high-yield heavyweight Ward McKimm exit after three years to re-join his old firm, Shearman & Sterling, in July. The move came not seven months after buyout star David Higgins exited for Kirkland & Ellis, despite the Magic Circle firm overhauling its partnership model in a bid to keep its top performers.

The firm also in June lost veteran corporate partner Martin Nelson-Jones, who had been at the firm since 1991, to DLA Piper in London.

For its part, Fried Frank hired corporate real estate partners Darren Rogers and Patrick Williams from Ashurst last year and more recently in July, Sam Wilson from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett for its asset management practice.

Legal Business

Deal round-up: Travers advises Shazam on Apple buyout as Freshfields and Norton Rose strike gold on $18bn mining merger

Deal round-up: Travers advises Shazam on Apple buyout as Freshfields and Norton Rose strike gold on $18bn mining merger

In the latest flurry of deals, Travers Smith has represented popular mobile app Shazam on its buyout by tech giant Apple, while a raft of international firms have benefitted from recent transactional activity.

Shazam, which was founded in 2002, is a song recognition app which can identify what music is playing via a phone’s inbuilt microphone. The deal for Shazam, reportedly worth $400m, will see Apple offer the app on an ad-free basis for all users.

The buyout was initially delayed by a European Commission (EC) probe, amid fears it could give Apple Music a competitive advantage over rival streaming apps such as Spotify and Deezer, but the EC gave the takeover the green light earlier this month.

Shazam was advised by Travers Smith, with a team spearheaded by corporate finance partner Andrew Gillen. Gillen was supported by partners Jessica Kemp and Madeleine Gowlett, who offered specialist tax advice, while commercial advice was given by partner Louisa Chambers.

Apple was represented by Cooley, while Hogan Lovells also featured on the deal, advising Shazam on US aspects of the transaction.

Elsewhere, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Norton Rose Fulbright landed key roles as goldmining giants Randgold and Barrick of Canada announced an $18bn combination.

The merger is expected to create the largest gold company in the world in terms of tier one gold assets, and is predicted to have a market capitalisation of $18.3bn.

Freshfields is one of the firms advising Barrick on the merger. Leading for the Magic Circle firm are corporate partners Piers Prichard Jones and Stephen Hewes. US outfits Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg and Cravath, Swaine & Moore also advised Barrick, alongside offshore firm Carey Olsen.

Norton Rose was on hand to support the US-based Randgold with a transatlantic team. Corporate partners Jon Perry and Nick Adams led for the firm out of London, while New York-based securities partner Steven Suzzan provided advice on the US side. Canadian firm Stikeman Elliot and offshore outfit Ogier also represented Randgold.

Finally, White & Case has advised the creditors of pharmaceuticals company Concordia on its $3.7bn recapitalisation.

The restructuring came after Concordia faced a number of issues, including regulatory scrutiny of its past business practices and a large amount of debt accrued from its previous acquisitions. As a result of the restructuring, Concordia’s debt has reduced from around $3.7bn to $1.4bn. A Carey Olsen team, led by partner Kate Andrews, advised the ad-hoc group of secured creditors on Jersey law aspects of the deal.

Christian Pilkington, one of White & Case’s lead restructuring partners on the mandate, commented: ‘This deal illustrates our ability to combine our global restructuring, finance and regulatory capabilities with our deep knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry.’

Legal Business

Another blow for Freshfields as highly-regarded QC leaves for litigation boutique

Another blow for Freshfields as highly-regarded QC leaves for litigation boutique

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has fielded yet another blow in the City after litigation partner Reza Mohtashami QC quit for litigation boutique Three Crowns.

Freshfields man and boy, Mohtashami joined the Magic Circle firm as an associate 19 years ago and was made up to partner in 2009. He worked in Paris, New York and Dubai before moving to London in 2014. He took silk in 2017.

Mohtashami rose to prominence in London as part of the firm’s well-established international arbitration practice after a successful five-year stint in Dubai. He was particularly involved in emerging markets cases, investment treaty arbitrations and in the energy, infrastructure and telecoms industries.

Three former arbitration partners from Freshfields were among the well-regarded group which set up Three Crowns in 2014 – Constantine Partasides, Georgios Petrochilos and Jan Paulsson – along with partners from Jones Day, Covington & Burling and Shearman & Sterling.

Three Crowns has more than 60 attorneys across its three offices in London, Paris, and Washington.  The firm focuses exclusively on arbitration: commercial, investment-treaty, and inter-state.

Three Crowns’ executive partner Gaëtan Verhoosel commented: ‘Reza’s astuteness and integrity as an advocate makes him a natural addition to Three Crowns, and his regional expertise will add immediate value to a very active part of our practice.’

Nigel Blackaby, Freshfields’ co-head of the international arbitration group, commented: ‘Reza is a valued friend and colleague who will be missed, and we thank him for his contribution to the development of Freshfields’ market-leading arbitration practice, particularly in the Middle East.  We wish him well for the next phase of his career.’

Another high-profile departure for Freshfields saw high-yield heavyweight Ward McKimm exit after three years to re-join his old firm, Shearman & Sterling in July. The move came not seven months after buyout star David Higgins exited for Kirkland & Ellis, despite the Magic Circle firm overhauling its partnership model in a bid to keep its top performers.

Freshfields also in June lost veteran corporate partner Martin Nelson-Jones, who had been at the firm since 1991, to DLA Piper in London.

Elsewhere in the City, Ashurst has hired partner Christopher Georgiou as co-head of its global Ashurst Advance team alongside Mike Polson. Georgiou joins from Fieldfisher, where he previously headed up the firm’s innovative alternative legal solutions platform, Condor.

He had worked at Ashurst for 14 years before Fieldfisher, building a securities and derivatives practice and co-leading the firm’s bank sector, as well as establishing its alternative legal services capability in Glasgow in 2013.

Legal Business

Magic Circle duo goes full throttle on Aston Martin’s landmark London listing

Magic Circle duo goes full throttle on Aston Martin’s landmark London listing

City heavyweights Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have taken the driving seat on the proposed initial public offering (IPO) of Aston Martin, a float reportedly valuing the luxury car maker at £5bn.

Slaughters won the mandate advising Aston Martin with a corporate team led by Nilufer von Bismarck and including Roland Turnill and Filippo de Falco. The firm is working alongside Aston Martin’s general counsel (GC) Michael Marecki, while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is advising on US law, led by London-based partner Gil Strauss.

Freshfields, meanwhile, is advising the underwriters, with a team led by Mark Austin and including Charlie Hayes.

Aston Martin is understood to have watched with interest the 2015 IPO of Ferrari on the New York Stock Exchange and, amid strong financial results for the first half of 2018, deemed it the time right to follow suit.

If it goes ahead, the float will make Aston Martin the only independent British car manufacturer to be listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

In a LSE announcement published today (29 August), Aston Martin pointed to an 8% year-on-year uptick in revenue to £445m for the six months to 30 June 2018 and a 14% increase in adjusted EBITDA to £106m, compared with £93m for the first half of 2017.

‘The improved performance was primarily driven by increased revenue from sales of special edition vehicles, in particular the Vanquish Zagato family and DB4 GT Continuation models and revenue from the Aston Martin Consulting business,’ the announcement said.

The results are a fillip for a company that has a chequered financial history, having endured no fewer than 7 insolvencies over the years.

Austin told Legal Business: ‘This is the next step in a great turnaround story for Aston Martin and it’s also a good news story for the London IPO market, including in the context of Brexit. The transaction is notable for being the first to be announced since new IPO rules came into force on 1 July 2018 which, broadly require unconnected analysts to be involved in the transaction and for the registration document to be published before the prospectus.’

One City corporate partner added: ‘The IPO of Aston Martin has been anticipated as the next logical float after Ferrari’s and is also a logical way of giving liquidity to shareholders. The main driver for the regeneration of the company has been the new management team led by president and chief executive Andy Palmer, who have championed a vision for the creation of new brands and new models – a focus Aston Martin didn’t have before.’

The company’s refreshed strategy launched in 2015 and includes the opening of a new plant at St. Athan in Wales in 2019.

Palmer said: ‘Today’s results show that we have continued to deliver sustainable growth, margins and value for our shareholders whilst launching three new models and variants in the first half of the year. Since launching the Second Century Plan in 2015, Aston Martin Lagonda has been transformed into a luxury business focused on creating the world’s most beautiful high-performance cars. This transformation has delivered significant growth in revenues, unit volumes and profitability.

The strategy also encompasses branching out into other luxury vehicles, as well as the manufacture of planes and submarines.

Legal Business

DWF hires the brains behind Freshfields’ Manchester hub for new managed services role

DWF hires the brains behind Freshfields’ Manchester hub for new managed services role

National operator DWF has bolstered its services clout ahead of a touted stock exchange listing with the hire of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s well-regarded chief of business operations, Anup Kollanethu (pictured).

Kollanethu, who joined the Magic Circle firm in mid-2015 after 12 years at Aviva Investors, has been appointed chief executive of DWF managed services.

The new role will oversee the development of DWF’s volume and integrated legal services work. This will add to initiatives such as the firm’s Connected Services arm, a division of independent businesses which work alongside the firm’s legal teams to help clients manage risk, reputation, cost, time and resources.

Kollanethu was the director of Freshfields’ combined legal and business services centre in Manchester, opened as part of the City giant’s 2015 shake-up which saw the mass relocation of support roles to the north. More than 700 jobs have been created in Manchester since.

DWF chief executive Andrew Leaitherland cited Kollanethu’s extensive experience in business transformation and managed services, which has included a stint as managing director of transformation and global shared services at Aviva Investors, as integral to the hire.

Leaitherland commented: ‘A significant part of delivering value is about delivering a full-service provision as a legal business, which, along with complex law and Connected Services, includes the volume work we deliver for clients in the UK and internationally. The expertise that Anup brings to this role will allow us to create a sustainable platform for future growth, and he will play a key part of how we provide integrated services to clients globally.’

Kollanethu added: ‘I am delighted to join an ambitious business like DWF, which has responded to the evolving expectations of clients with an innovative and commercially-focused approach to client service, and I look forward to working with a fantastic team to build on a successful strategy.’

Kollanethu’s experience in business change projects comes as DWF gears up to be the largest UK firm float yet. In June the firm confirmed it was eyeing a London Stock Exchange listing later this year. DWF also recently brought in former DLA Piper chief information officer (CIO) Daniel Pollick for a newly created CIO role.

DWF’s float reportedly came with a £1bn price tag but, given its 2016/17 revenue of £199.3m, and profit of £45.5m, a more realistic valuation would be in the £400-£600m region. DWF’s borrowings have also increased in recent years to exceed £40m in bank debt, a relatively high level for a law firm.

The firm’s recent history has been marked by a spate of office openings in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, as well as the acquisitions of legal cost business NeoLaw last June and claims management firm Triton Global.

DWF’s IPO would be the sixth UK float, and the largest by some distance since Slater & Gordon’s troublesome listing on the Australian stock exchange more than a decade ago.

Legal Business

Freshfields and King & Spalding secure mandates as Equitable Life completes its turnaround with £1.8bn sale

Freshfields and King & Spalding secure mandates as Equitable Life completes its turnaround with £1.8bn sale

Equitable Life put pensions at risk when it nearly collapsed in 2000. But 18 years on it has completed its turnaround with Life Company Consolidation Group (LCCG) agreeing to acquire the UK’s oldest life assurer for £1.8bn.

Equitable Life turned to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which fielded a team led by corporate insurance partner George Swan and included restructuring and insolvency specialists Neil Golding and Craig Montgomery.