Legal Business

Targeting the City: Fried Frank hires Hogan Lovells’ Brinkworth as head of finance

Targeting the City: Fried Frank hires Hogan Lovells’ Brinkworth as head of finance

After having hired two private equity partners in recent months, US firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson has bolstered its finance capability with the hire of Hogan Lovells finance partner Stuart Brinkworth (picutred) to head its London finance offering.

Brinkworth resigned from Hogan Lovells on Friday (15 May) and has now been placed on gardening leave. He will officially start his role at Fried Frank’s London office from 1 September.

The new position at Fried Frank will see Brinkworth tasked with building debt fund relationships with clients in London and also supporting the firm’s private equity practice.

Brinkworth joined Hogan Lovells from SJ Berwin in 2010 as a partner in the firm’s banking group, he specialises in acting for UK and international lenders including credit and debt funds, sponsors and bidding consortia on UK domestic and cross-border leveraged finance deals.

His hire is indicative of the firm’s strategy for growth in the London office, which recently saw private equity partner Daniel Oates join from O’Melveny & Myers in January, and its London managing partner Graham White who joined from Kirkland & Ellis last year. It does, however, follow the departure of its international disputes head in London, Nick Cherryman, who moved to King & Spalding last month.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Office closures: Paul Hastings picks up Fried Frank’s Asia head in Hong Kong

Office closures: Paul Hastings picks up Fried Frank’s Asia head in Hong Kong

Rival firms have been keen to pick up talent following Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson’s exit from Hong Kong and Shanghai, with Paul Hastings being the latest firm to benefit from the closures.

The firm has hired Fried Frank’s corporate duo Douglas Freeman and Victor Chen, who will join Paul Hastings’ Hong Kong office as partners in the corporate practice.

Freeman previously headed Fried Frank’s Asia practice, and focused on cross-border M&A, reorganizations, leveraged buyouts, listed company transactions and hostile or contested control transactions, for public and private companies, private equity firms and investment banking firms. Some of his key clients include Goldman Sachs, Carlyle Group, Citic Capital Partners, Affinity Equity Partners, LionRock Capital Management, Lazard Freres and Duff & Phelps.

Chen joined Fried Frank as a partner in 2011, and represents private equity sponsors, multinational corporations and institutional investors in M&A transactions and investments, with a particular focus on Asia cross-border deals.

Recent work for the duo include advising the buyer group on a $3.7bn acquisition of Focus Media Holding, representing FountainVest Partners and China Media Capital in its investment in the Greater China business of IMAX, and acting for Lazard in connection with the Alibaba Group’s acquisition of AutoNavi Holdings. They will work closely with former colleague David Shine, who recently joined Paul Hastings from Fried Frank as chair of the New York M&A practice.

‘Doug and Victor’s arrivals represent a further step towards providing our clients with strategic regional and cross-border transactional advice,’ said Sammy Li, chair of Paul Hasting’s Hong Kong office. ‘Doug and Victor have worked together as a focused, effective team for seven years and I am confident that they will further enhance our Asia M&A and private equity practices by tapping into new opportunities whilst cross-selling other key practice areas which are natural business complements to their work.’

Paul Hastings is the second firm to pick up partners this week following Fried Frank’s decision to pull out of Asia, after Norton Rose Fulbright recruited a team of five lawyers from its disputes practice in Hong Kong. Fried Frank announced in January it would shut down its Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, leaving the US firm without an outpost in Asia, affecting 33 employees in total.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Asia: Norton Rose Fulbright takes on five-strong Fried Frank disputes team in Hong Kong

Asia: Norton Rose Fulbright takes on five-strong Fried Frank disputes team in Hong Kong

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has recruited a team of five lawyers from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson’s disputes practice in Hong Kong in the wake of the latter’s decision to pull out of Asia in January.

Former Fried Frank partner Alfred Wu joined the firm’s disputes group this month alongside consultant Philip Nunn and associates Muriel Cheng, Anita Fong and Kevin Hong. Nunn joins the firm as a senior consultant.

NRF’s Hong Kong disputes team is led by Camille Jojo, and the hires takes the total number of partners to six. The new recruits bring with them experience in general commercial and construction disputes, and contentious regulatory issues. Clients they have represented in investigations and actions/prosecutions include the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, Financial Reporting Council and Companies Registry as well as assisting in undertaking internal control reviews and FCPA and SEC related investigations.

NRF’s head of dispute resolution and litigation for Europe, the Middle East and Asia commented: ‘Globally we have seen a significant increase in the demand for dispute resolution services, and our team is growing to meet this demand. Hong Kong is a key hub for China, and Asia as a whole, and Alfred’s team will bring valuable additional resources to our offering.’

The firm’s head of North Asia, Phillip John, added: ‘Chinese companies have been using Hong Kong extensively as a platform and springboard for investments in overseas markets. With recent market volatility, we expect to see more dispute work from these corporations in Hong Kong. Alfred and his team will bolster our capabilities for China and Hong Kong disputes and arbitration work and deepen the resources that we can offer to clients in the region.’

In January Fried Frank confirmed it was shutting its Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, leaving the firm without an outpost in Asia. The decision affected 33 employees, of which all but one sat in the Hong Kong office. All of the employees were discussing their options in regards to relocating to other offices within the firm, although most were expected to enter redundancy consultations.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Leaving Asia: Fried Frank closes down in Hong Kong and Shanghai

Leaving Asia: Fried Frank closes down in Hong Kong and Shanghai

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson has decided to close its Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, leaving the US firm without an outpost in Asia.

The decision to exit the regions will affect 33 employees in total, of which all but one sit in the Hong Kong office. Those affected include Asia practice head and corporate partner Douglas Freeman as well as three additional partners, two counsel, eight associates and 18 support staff. In comparison, only one support staff is based in Shanghai with no fee-earners.

All of the employees are currently discussing their options in regards to relocating to other offices within the firm, although most are expected to enter redundancy consultations.

The firm still anticipates to service clients coming out of the region, having retained its licence to work in Shanghai and exploring its licence options in Hong Kong. Also to this end the two offices will be replaced by a service centre based in Hong Kong – the details of which are being discussed at present – and will most likely house other fee-earners within the firm that offer advice to clients in the region.

The firm launched an office in Shanghai in October 2007, after having marked its territory in Hong Kong in December 2006 with a nine-partner team hire from the Hong Kong and Shanghai offices of UK top-20 firm Simmons & Simmons including its China managing partner Huen Wong. Wong served as the firm’s managing partner in Asia from 2006 until 2011 and was most recently a consultant to the firm for litigation in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The firm’s Hong Kong and Shanghai offices were the firm’s only presence in Asia, leaving the firm with five offices in New York, Washington DC, London, Paris and Frankfurt.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Targeting London: Fried Frank hires O’Melveny & Myers private equity partner

Targeting London: Fried Frank hires O’Melveny & Myers private equity partner

US firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson has enhanced its private equity practice in London with the hire of partner Daniel Oates from O’Melveny & Myers.

Oates advises private equity and corporate clients on a range of multi-jurisdictional transactions, including acquisitions and leveraged buyouts, disposals, public-to-private transactions and initial public offerings.

Prior to his stint at O’Melveny, Oates was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis and has previously represented major houses including Accel KKR, Apollo Group, Apax Partners, Audax Group, Avis Budget, Bain Capital.

London managing partner Graham White, who recently joined Fried Frank from Kirkland & Ellis, said: ‘I am thrilled to have Dan join me as we work with others to expand our private equity practice in London and Europe.’

Fried Frank has simultaneously strengthened its private equity offering in its New York office, hiring Mark Lucas, formerly vice president and associate general counsel at Goldman Sachs. He served in the lender’s merchant banking division focusing on private equity transactions, including M&A and capital raisings as well as other principal investments made by Goldman, and was also previously an associate at Fried Frank 2004 to 2010.

For O’Melveny, the departure of Oates follows the exit of a six-partner team to Latham & Watkins in November, including high profile London-based partner Libby Savill, who was tasked with launching the firm’s UK media practice. The firm, however, has pledged to grow its City base, and speaking to Legal Business, Solomon Wifa, head of O’Melveny’s London office and a member of the investment funds practice, says: ‘We certainly need to bulk up in London and we’d like to increase our transactions capability. Restructuring and finance are also areas we’re looking at. We’re haven’t been on the same trajectory as a lot of firms but we are still interested in growing London.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Fried Frank faces multi-million professional negligence claim

Collyer Bristow pays £24m settlement over Rangers advice

US firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson is facing a professional negligence claim at London’s High Court. Made by a former client, it alleges multiple breaches of duty over advice provided on the enforcement of a commercial loan in France.

Legal Business

A €20m loan: Fried Frank faces multi-million pound professional negligence claim

A €20m loan: Fried Frank faces multi-million pound professional negligence claim

US firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson is facing a €10m-plus professional negligence claim at London’s High Court made by a former client alleging multiple breaches of duty over advice provided on the enforcement of a commercial loan in France.

The claim arises out of a €20m loan made to Paris-based company Proximania, under which Luxembourg-based company Trimast Holdings, owned and controlled by investment vehicle Fortelus, became the lender. Trimast claims Fried Frank acted in breach of the terms of its advice over enforcement and security issues arising from Proximania defaulting on the loan.

In 2009 the claimants instructed Fried Frank’s Paris office for specialist French law corporate insolvency and restructuring advice with respect to Trimast’s rights under the loan. Former partner David Chijner, who has since moved to DLA Piper, was then a partner in the Paris office and had overall responsibility for the matter. In the context of events that followed, Fried Frank is accused of multiple particulars of breach including failing to advise on enforcement procedures; failures relating to the post-enforcement restructuring advice; and failing ‘generally to exercise the standard of reasonable skill and care to be expected of an ordinarily competent lawyer.’

As a result of those breaches of duty, Trimast claims to have suffered substantial loss and damage, in particular an additional sum of more than €20.8m invested following the default. Having lodged its claim form at London’s High Court in mid-April, the claim was valued at more than €10m with the claimants seeking damages, interest, and costs.

A pleadings hearing is understood to have taken place on Friday (14 November) with a team from Travers Smith representing the claimants, which includes Trimast and Fortelus Capital Management, while Clyde & Co is representing Fried Frank.

Other firms to face professional negligence disputes this year includes Nabarro, which agreed to pay £10m to settle a £130m claim brought against the firm by a former client unhappy with its handling of a litigation matter. Leading private client firm Withers was in March ordered by the High Court to pay £1.6m in damages after the court upheld a professional negligence claim alleging the misdrafting of a limited liability partnership agreement.

At the time of writing, Fried Frank did not respond to requests for comment.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk 

Legal Business

‘A proven leader’: Fried Frank takes Kirkland’s White to lead European PE and London growth

‘A proven leader’: Fried Frank takes Kirkland’s White to lead European PE and London growth

Chicago-headquartered Kirkland & Ellis, renowned for its reputation on hiring lateral partners at top dollar, has lost corporate partner Graham White to Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson where he will head the London office and lead the firm’s European private equity practice.

White was Kirkland’s de facto head in the City as the firm does not maintain an official London managing partner title. He unofficially took the role on in 2012 after joining the firm in 2006 from Magic Circle firm Linklaters where he had been a partner since 2001. Before this, White was a partner at legacy firm SJ Berwin from 1991.

At Kirkland, White oversaw European operations and served as a member of the firm’s 15-member management committee and, before that, he helped grow Linklaters’ private equity practice.

Fried Frank chairman, David Greenwald, said: ‘He [White] is a proven leader with years of experience handling large and complex buyout transactions for some of the world’s most sophisticated organizations. Graham will further strengthen our team and better position us for continued growth.’

White added: ‘I am looking forward to helping Fried Frank grow its London office, expand the private equity practice in Europe and build on the corporate department’s legacy of great client service. We share a comprehensive understanding of the business climate in which our clients operate and an unwavering commitment to providing insightful legal advice, which creates a great foundation for working together.’

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Bayer’s $14.2bn acquisition from Merck spins out roles for Sullivan, Fried Frank, Morgan Lewis and Cleary

Bayer’s $14.2bn acquisition from Merck spins out roles for Sullivan, Fried Frank, Morgan Lewis and Cleary

The $14.2bn acquisition of Merck’s consumer care business by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer has spun out roles for a clutch of leading US law firms, as Sullivan & Cromwell advises longstanding client Bayer opposite Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & JacobsonMorgan, Lewis & Bockius; and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton for Merck.

At Fried Frank corporate partners David Shine and Abigail Bomba took the lead for US healthcare corporation Merck. The dealmakers worked alongside antitrust and competition partner Peter Guryan, executive compensation and employee benefits partners Amy Blackman and Donald Carleen, IP and technology partner Daniel Glazer and tax partners Michael Alter and Robert Cassanos.

Morgan Lewis’s team for Merck included a trio of business and finance partners: Alan Leeds; Randall Sunberg and David Glazer. The team also included the practice group leader of the firm’s antirust practice Scott Stempel, fellow antitrust partner Harry Robins and Frankfurt-based business and finance partner Nils Rahlf.

Cleary Gottlieb advised Merck on the non-US antitrust aspects of its sale. The Brussels-based Cleary Gottlieb team is led by partner Romano Subiotto QC, assisted by associates Katia Colitti, Andrew Leyden and Vladimir Novak.

Sullivan advised long standing client Bayer on its multi-billion dollar acquisition, with a team led by New York-based Matthew Hurd, who co-heads the firm’s healthcare and life sciences group. Sullivan has advised the German pharma giant on a string of US acquisitions, including last year’s now completed $1.1bn cash tender offer for Californian contraceptive company Conceptus.

In an increasingly buoyant transactional market, the pharma industry has been particularly active, as seen most recently with Pzifer’s record £63bn bid for the UK’s AstraZeneca.

Merck itself was in an acquisitive mode last year when it made a £1.57bn cash offer to buy AZ Electronic Material, when Allen & Overy (A&O) advised Merck with a team led by corporate partners Richard Browne and Michael Ulmer alongside Luxembourg corporate head Mark Feider. Clifford Chance advised AZ.

A&O also advised Novartis on its sale late last year of its blood transfusion diagnostics unit to Barcelona-based Grifols for an estimated $1.68bn.

David.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Katten Muchin Rosenman continues hiring spree

US firm Katten Muchin Rosenman remains on the charge in London following the hire of tax partner Sanjay Mehta from Stephenson Harwood in August. The latest hire comes at the end of a highly acquisitive year that has seen the Chicago-based firm make five lateral hires in six months.

This follows a triple hire to Katten’s real estate team in July, which included Stephen John as special counsel and Ranjeev Kumar as partner from the London office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, alongside Joe Payne from Field Fisher Waterhouse.