Legal Business

Texas rangers: Gibson Dunn and Winston & Strawn launch new offices in the Lone Star State

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Winston & Strawn have both added to their footprints in Texas this week, simultaneously announcing new offices in Houston and Dallas respectively.

Gibson Dunn confirmed yesterday (6 February) that it had opened a new Houston office with eight partners, while Winston & Strawn has taken on 23 new partners from eight different firms and has launched an office in Dallas.

Among Winston’s new hires are Norton Rose Fulbright’s head of US business law, Tom Hughes; six partners from Fish & Richardson, including one made up from of counsel; seven from Dallas firm Locke Lord; three from Jones Day; and one each from Greenberg Traurig, Squire Patton Boggs, K&L Gates and Miller, Egan, Molter & Nelson. The Dallas office will be led by managing partners Bryan Goolsby, who is already with the firm, and Thomas Melsheimer, who joins from Fish & Richardson.

Winston has also picked up two real estate partners, Douglas Yeager and Jeffrey Smith, who will join the firm’s existing Houston office from Locke Lord.

Co-chariman Jeffrey Kessler said: ‘The firm’s ability to complete large lateral acquisitions within a short period of time, attracting prestigious attorneys from different law firms, highlights our commitment to strategic growth and integration within key practice areas and markets.’

Gibson Dunn, meanwhile, is yet to confirm which eight partners will be joining the new office in Houston but said the team would have ‘the full range of energy transactional experience’, covering public and private M&A, asset acquisitions and divestitures, and joint ventures; debt and equity capital markets; finance and restructuring; tax and regulatory matters.

The firm already has a presence in Dallas and office head Rob Walters said: ‘Our new Houston office will be initially focused on energy transactions, but we expect the office to work closely with the Dallas office and other lawyers throughout our firm to attract restructuring, litigation, appellate and regulatory opportunities.’

2016 saw both Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and UK firm Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) opening in Houston, 13 partners joined Orrick for the launch including McDermott Will & Emery’s global head of energy Blake Winburne, and DLA Piper’s co-chair of global and US patent litigation Claudia Frost. In November HFW confirmed it had taken over eight-partner Houston litigation firm Legge, Farrow, Kimmitt, McGrath & Brown, giving it a US presence.

Legal Business

Swings and roundabouts: A&O gains two in the US as former partners move to Simmons and Gibson Dunn

As it continues its push for US expansion, Allen & Overy (A&O) has appointed two partners to its investigations and litigation practice in Washington DC. Meanwhile, a former A&O partner who had retired has resurfaced at Simmons & Simmons, while a team of four moved to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Paris this week.

Gregory Mocek and Anthony Mansfield join A&O’s Washington DC office from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. The pair previously served in the Division of Enforcement of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission as the leader of its domestic and international investigations and litigation and its chief trial attorney respectively.

Mocek advises on a broad range of issues, including regulatory, government investigations, internal investigations, the Dodd-Frank Act, litigation, compliance, and operational risk. Mansfield is focused on commodities, securities and related derivatives litigation, complex commercial litigation and regulatory/enforcement matters.

However in the same week A&O has lost the head of its global technology group to Gibson Dunn. Ahmed Baladi joins the US firm with counsel Vera Lukic and associates Emmanuelle Bartoli and Adélaïde Cassanet. Baladi advises on issues relating to information technology and digital transactions, outsourcing, data privacy and cybersecurity. He joined A&O as an associate in 2001 and was made up to partner in 2010.

Simmons has also taken on former London based capital markets partner Jonathan Mellor. Mellor, who had retired at the end of last year, advises a wide range of underwriters and issuers on all types of capital markets issuance with a particular focus on the equity-linked market, building up a significant practice advising a range of issuers and financial institutions.

In November, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer also boosted its US platform with a Cadwalader hire in, taking corporate partner Aly El Hamamsy.

Legal Business

Life during law: Jonny Earle, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher


I don’t take anything for granted. I’ve been lucky, had some good breaks and people have invested time in me.

I can’t sing or dance. My partner thinks I’m like Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when I dance. That’s one reason I went into law. I fancied doing something City-based. I didn’t know what. I came out with my degree and thought: what do I want to do? I applied for a law summer scheme to see what it was like and that was it.

Legal Business

Gibson Dunn and Slaughters act for William Hill in latest gamble for gaming consolidation


Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Slaughter and May and Ashurst have all won roles advising William Hill and Canadian online gaming company Amaya through merger talks in a deal worth about £4.5bn.

UK-based William Hill confirmed on Saturday (October 8) it was in discussions with Amaya regarding a ‘potential all share merger of equals’. Both companies have spent 2016 reviewing options for growth, with William Hill rejecting a £3.6bn takeover bid from Rank Group and 888 Holdings in August.

William Hill turned to Gibson Dunn with London partner Jonathan Earle leading the firm’s team. The UK bookmaker sought advice on financing aspects of the deal from Slaughter and May with a team including London corporate partner Sally Wokes.

Ashurst is advising Toronto-based Amaya on UK aspects of the deal with corporate partner Karen Davies at the helm. Amaya looked to Blake, Cassels & Graydon M&A partner Jeffrey Lloyd and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt partner Doug Bryce for advice on Canadian aspects.

William Hill turned to Slaughter and May earlier this year to guide it through the proposed takeover bid by Rank Group and 888 Holdings. Allen & Overy corporate partners Ed Barnett and Annabelle Croker advised 888 Holdings and Rank Group was advised by Norton Rose Fulbright EMEA corporate head partners Raj Karia and partner Chris Randall.

Gambling has been a lucrative sector for law firms in recent years after a spate of mergers and acquisitions. Last August Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Arthur Cox lined up on the merger between Paddy Power and Betfair for a £5bn deal. Freshfields partners Edward Braham and Oliver Lazenby led on the Betfair side, while Paddy Power turned to longstanding adviser Arthur Cox and corporate partner Maura McLaughin, as well as A&O’s Antonio Bavasso for antitrust advice.

In July 2015, Slaughters acted on Ladbrokes £2.3bn tie-up with bookmakers Gala Coral, advised by Ashurst. Slaughters corporate chief Andy Ryde led on the deal, alongside M&A partner Mark Zerdin and finance partner Ian Johnson.

Legal Business

Ashurst changes another mind as James Perry gives up move to Gibson Dunn


Ashurst has confirmed London regulatory partner James Perry will remain at the firm, after resigning in April for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Having been a trainee at the firm from 1987, Perry clients include Skandia, Royal & Sun Alliance, Credit Agricole and Société Générale.

Perry was expected to join fellow ex-Ashurst colleagues Charlie Geffen, Jonathan Earle, Mark Sperotto, Nigel Stacey and James Cox, who previously quit Ashurst to join the US firm in London as it aims to build a full-service platform in the City.

Ashurst’s retention of Perry follows the firm confirming finance partner Nigel Ward would will also remain at the firm after resigning for Paul Hastings.

Ashurst chairman Ben Tidswell said in a statement: ‘Over the years, James has invested significantly in the firm, our clients and the team. He has decided that his priority is to continue to develop, with Jonny Gordon and Jake Green, our successful regulatory practice. Continuing to benefit from James’ considerable experience and intellect in regulatory matters will be of significant benefit to us and our clients.’

For more on Ashurst see the comment piece: ‘Comment: Looking forward to Ashurst’s decline – The outlook worsens for a proud City institution’


Legal Business

MoFo and Gibson Dunn take a partner each from Proskauer’s City practice


Following the news yesterday (20 August) that Proskauer Rose had hired from Dentons‘ private equity practice, the firm has lost two partners , one to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in private equity, and another in private investment funds to Morrison & Foerster (MoFo).

Oliver Rochman will join MoFo’s corporate practice as part of the firm’s push into European corporate capabilities and the expansion of its global private investment funds practice following the arrival of four corporate partners from Latham & Watkins.

Rochman joined Proskauer from SJ Berwin in 2011 with fellow funds partner Nigel van Zyl and six associates, in which was a large hire at the time. His practice focuses on advising international funds such as buy-out funds, infrastructure funds and funds of funds.

‘We have significantly invested in our UK Corporate practice over the last year, building a highly impressive group and deep bench of top tier partners and associates. Oliver is another important addition to the team,’ said Paul Friedman, Morrison & Foerster’s managing partner for Europe.

Meanwhile, James Howe will join Gibson Dunn’s London office, continuing his private equity and mergers and acquisitions practice at the firm.

Ken Doran, chairman and managing partner of Gibson Dunn said that continuing to build the firm’s transactional capability in London was critical to establishing the bench strength and visibility needed to achieve long term success in the UK and global markets.

Charlie Geffen, chair of the London corporate practice added: ‘James is a rising star in the London private equity arena. He has excellent technical skills, and the combination of his intellect, energy and ambition will ensure his success on our platform.’

Yesterday, Proskauer took private equity partner Eleanor Shanks from Dentons following a rapid scaling up of its private equity practice since the hire of City heavyweight Steven Davis from King & Wood Mallesons in 2014. This year, the firm has already added leveraged finance partner Ben Davis from Reed Smith and private equity real estate duo Jo Owen and Vikki McKay from DLA Piper in London. ‘Eleanor’s strong track record advising private equity players further strengthens our position in the industry as we continue to expand our presence in Europe,’ said Davis.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Gibson Dunn adds New York PE strength while Bakers hires two in tax


US hires were on the cards for Baker & McKenzie and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, while Withers added in Hong Kong and telecoms firm Altice USA turned to Shearman & Sterling for its new general counsel.

Baker & McKenzie continued to expand its North American tax practice with two laterals into its Washington DC and Chicago offices. Tax partner David Berek’s transfer to Baker & McKenzie comes after stints as a partner at Chicago-based firm Horwood, Marcus & Berk and private wealth boutique Handler Thayer. The firm also hired Jennifer Molnar as a partner into its Washington DC office. She re-joins Baker & McKenzie from Sutherland Asbill & Brennan.

This week’s additions bring Baker & McKenzie to five new tax partner hires in the US this year, with the arrival of Patrick Cox from Withers Bergman in New York, Dan Cullen from Bryan Cave in Chicago and Steven Schneider from Goulston & Storrs in Washington DC.

Meanwhile in New York, Gibson Dunn has hired John Pollack from Schulte Roth & Zabel. Pollack was formerly the co-chair of the firm’s M&A and securities group, with major clients including Veritas Capital and Liberty Hall Capital Partners.

Gibson Dunn New York co-head Steven Shoemate said: ‘John has a substantial private equity practice that is very complementary with our M&A, private equity and investment funds practices. He will be a terrific addition to the New York office.’

Also in New York, telecoms and media firm Altice has appointed former Shearman & Sterling partner David Connolly as executive vice president and its new GC. Connelly has 14 years’ experience at Shearman working as an M&A lawyer and helped advise Altice on its acquisition of Cablevision for $10bn in June this year.

And over in Hong Kong, Withers has expanded its hotels operation by hiring corporate partner David Mallinson from Mayer Brown JSM. The hire grows the firm’s hotels and hospitality practice which was launched in March 2016 with hires in Australia and Singapore. Withers recruited Robert Williams as head of the firm’s Asia-Pacific hotels practice from Australia-based Ryan Lawyers, along with partner Justin Gross.

Williams said: ‘David extends the reach and depth of our hotels group, giving us a senior and on-the-ground presence in north Asia. This is a direct response to client demand, and highlights the firm’s commitment to our existing clients in Hong Kong and the wider region.’

Legal Business

Growing the Pi: Gibson Dunn and A&O act on improved US offer for Premier Farnell


Allen & Overy (A&O) and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher have advised on an improved bid for UK-based electronics manufacturer Premier Farnell.

Gibson Dunn acted for US technology company Avnet on the offer of £691m, a 12.1% premium on the previous offer made by Swiss components manufacturer Dätwyler earlier this month.

The previous offer for Premier Farnell, which produces the Raspberry Pi minicomputer, came to an all-cash offer of £615m, a deal valuing the company at an enterprise value of £792m.

The bid by Avnet was for £1.85 per share, up on the original offer by Dätwyler of £1.65 per share, which saw Slaughter and May advising the Swiss firm.

The deal would see Avnet acquire Premier Farnell’s online services as well as the Raspberry Pi. The single-board computer is about the size of a credit card and has sold more than eight million units, making it the UK’s best-selling computer.

Premier Farnell was advised by A&O corporate partners Richard Browne and Annabelle Croker, who also acted on the original offer.

Avnet were advised by a team led by Gibson Dunn’s London corporate partner Nigel Stacey. New York corporate partner Barbara Becker acted on the US side of the deal, advising regular client Avnet.

Stacey joined Gibson Dunn’s City office from Ashurst in 2014, after being with the firm for 16 years. Earlier this month Stacey, alongside corporate head Charlie Geffen,  advised former Ashurst client Terra Firma on its sale of Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group for $1.2bn.

The offer for the electronics firm is the latest in a run of deals for UK technology companies, with ARM holdings agreeing to be acquired by Japanese group SoftBank for £24.3bn. Slaughters and Davis Polk & Wardell acted for ARM, and Morrison Foerster, Freshfields, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton acted for SoftBank.

Slaughters and Davis Polk also faced off in the buyout of VocaLink for £700m. The Magic Circle firm acted for the UK payments systems company, while Davis Polk acted for purchasers MasterCard.

Legal Business

Ashurst misses out as Gibson Dunn and Pinsents take front row seats on $1.2bn Odeon deal


City firm Ashurst has missed out to former partners at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher on the $1.2bn sale of London-based Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group by private equity owner Terra Firma.

Wanda-owned American cinema chain AMC Theatres resurrected a deal for Odeon & UCI, having previously stated the deal would be off if the UK voted to leave the EU, in one of the biggest European deals following the Brexit vote. The deal makes AMC Theatres the largest cinema operator in the world, with 627 theatres and 7,600 movie screens in eight countries.

Terra Firma, which had long been an Ashurst client, instructed former Ashurst partners Charlie Geffen and Nigel Stacey on the sale.

The corporate partners, who both joined Gibson in 2014, acted for Guy Hands’ Terra Firma on its original deal for Odeon back in 2004 and merged it with rival UCI.

Pinsent Masons acted for AMC Theatres, with a team led by private equity partner Tom Leman with partners John Tyerman and Tom Johnson.

Pinsents worked with Husch Blackwell which advised on US elements of the transaction with a team including partners Jim Ash and Kirstin Salzman.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges advised on financing aspects of the deal with a team lead by Courtney Marcus in Dallas. Weil partner Corey Chivers in New York also acted on the deal.

Osborne Clarke acted for the management of Odeon & UCI cinemas.

Leman said: ‘It was a short and intense process with the small hiccup of a Brexit vote along the way. After that we had to work hard to deliver a deal that worked for both parties, however the evidence is there that the UK remains open for business.’

The deal is subject to competition clearances.

Legal Business

Gibson Dunn continues Germany push, launching in Frankfurt with double Latham hire


The renewed interest in Germany’s legal market continues apace with US firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to launch in Frankfurt after hiring Latham & Watkins corporate partners Dirk Oberbracht and Wilhelm Reinhardt.

Cited as a leading individual in Germany’s private equity market by The Legal 500, Oberbracht served as head of Latham’s Frankfurt office where the firm houses a tier one practice for transactions. Reinhardt was a partner in the corporate department and also chaired its industrials and manufacturing industry group.

The pair will lead Gibson Dunn’s new office and continue their M&A and corporate law practices.

Earlier this year the firm enhanced its German offering with Munich corporate partner Ferdinand Fromholzer from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. His departure from the Magic Circle firm was followed by competition partner Michael Esser, who joined Latham’s Duesseldorf office in May.

Chair and managing partner Ken Doran said the duo’s experience in M&A, private equity, corporate and securities law will ‘significantly enhance our practice in Germany and complement our Munich corporate practice.’

Michael Walther, partner-in-charge of the firm’s German offices said the hires will ‘increase the depth of our corporate offering and is a perfect start for our further expansion plans in Germany. The combined strength of our Munich and Frankfurt offices will enlarge and broaden our German corporate practice, as well as expand other practice areas.’

Other firms to establish a presence in the region included Greenberg Traurig which launched in Germany last July with the hire of Olswang’s entire Berlin team while Dentons is launching in Munich with six partners from Norton Rose Fulbright.

Going the other way, Freshfields decided to shut its doors in Cologne with all 18 partners transferring to other offices.