Legal Business

Holman Fenwick continues recruitment drive with Reed Smith corporate duo

Holman Fenwick continues recruitment drive with Reed Smith corporate duo

Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) continues to build its City roster with the hire of Reed Smith corporate partners Giles Beale and James Wilson, who join as the firm seeks to ‘help domestic and international clients take advantage of transactional opportunities’.

Beale and Wilson specialise in corporate finance and international mergers and acquisitions, in particular involving equity capital markets.

The pair advise on a wide variety of issuers, investors and intermediaries on initial public offerings, secondary offerings and takeovers in London, and are experienced in advising overseas businesses and investors in their dealings with the London Stock Exchange, the UK Listing Authority and the UK’s Panel on Takeovers and Mergers. In particular, Beale led Napo Pharmaceuticals in the first primary listing of a US corporation on the main market London Stock Exchange when it went public in 2006.

HFW has had a difficult year, with a 15% slide in its profits per equity partner (PEP) for the 2014/15 financial year and was hit with a professional negligence dispute.

The firm has made several lateral hires to its London team this year, including finance partner Stephen Marais from rival Ince & Co and energy partners Alexander Reid and Jonathan Martin, who joined from Baker Botts and Fasken Martineau respectively.

HWF corporate head Brian Gordon said: ‘Despite the market downturn, and by working closely with our wider legal service and industry sector groups, we are seeing significant opportunities to help domestic and international clients take advantage of transactional opportunities when and where required.’

Separately, Baker & McKenzie also a key London hire today (3 December), with the appointment of dispute resolution and arbitration partner Andy Moody. Joining from Eversheds in January 2016, Moody is recommended by The Legal 500.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

 

Legal Business

Freshfields and HFW criticised by Takeover Panel for breaching rules in Bumi transaction

Freshfields and HFW criticised by Takeover Panel for breaching rules in Bumi transaction

In a rare step, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) have been publicly criticised by the UK Takeover Panel for breaching its code of conduct when advising on the formation of a multibillion-dollar Indonesian coal group.

London’s takeover regulator launched the investigation in December 2012, and concluded that Freshfields and HFW breached rules when instructing on the formation of the coal group Bumi.

Freshfields had advised takeover company Vallar, while HFW had advised the two Indonesian coal mining companies involved.

The takeover panel found HFW had failed to properly disclose that Bumi’s founding shareholders, the Bakrie Group, and Indonesian shareholder Rosan Roeslani, were acting as concert parties in acquiring stakes totaling more than 30% in Bumi’s predecessor company, given they had close ties to each other when the deal was announced in 2011.

The panel also concluded that Freshfields’ failed to notify the panel prior to the announcement of the Indonesian transactions and said the firm ‘could have done more regarding the concert party issue but makes no finding of breach in relation to section 6(b) of the introduction’.

The panel’s statement said: ‘Freshfields and HFW did not take all reasonable care to ensure that the commercial background to the forward-sale arrangements, and their purpose, was fairly presented to the panel.

‘Freshfields and HFW did not ensure that the direct and causative connection between the collateral requirements under the jumbo loan and the forward-sale arrangements, of which they were each aware, was properly explained to the panel.’

A Freshfields spokesperson said the firm co-operated with the enquiry and has accepted the panel’s conclusions.

‘The panel concludes that Freshfields (and other advisers) failed to provide the Takeover Panel with some information that was relevant in considering the submission, but accepted that there was no intention on the part of any of the advisers to mislead the panel.’

HFW said in a statement: ‘The public statement was issued with the consent of all parties involved and, as such, it is not appropriate for us to make further comment.’ 

The panel has also publicly criticised financial adviser Credit Suisse. It did not impose any fines or other penalties.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Holman Fenwick Willan takes London banking partner from Ince & Co

Holman Fenwick Willan takes London banking partner from Ince & Co

During a tough year for insurance specialists, Holman Fenwick Willan has hired a partner from rival Ince & Co, appointing Stephen Marais to build its asset finance practice.

Marais joins Holman’s London team having served at Ince & Co since 2011. He has experience in advising on ship finance, commodity and trade finance, and aviation finance transactions. He has also acted on structured transactions, in particular sale and leaseback transactions, orphan trust arrangements, Islamic finance and export credit supported transactions.

While at Ince & Co, Marais acted for the arranger as deal counsel on a €84m German registered loan note financing for the acquisition of a 13,100 teu container vessel for a Middle Eastern shipowner; and advised a ship owner on the syndicated debt financing of two bulk carriers.

Marais commented: ‘Since the global financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting loss of liquidity, the banking and finance sector has changed quite significantly. Traditional lenders have exited some sectors while new capital providers have made their presence felt. I am looking forward to helping the firm take advantage of the opportunities for further growth in this area.’

Holman finance head Elinor Dautlich said Marias’ extensive experience of working on structured asset finance transactions across a number of Holman’s sectors of focus would enhance its offering.

Marais’ hire comes in a year when insurance specialists have faced a tough time.

While Holman celebrates the new partner addition, the firm saw a 15% slide in its profits per equity partner (PEP) for the 2014/15 financial year. In August, the firm, which has 13 offices including Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney and Sao Paulo, saw a 3% drop in revenue from £144m to 139m with the UK generating over half of this bringing in £70m. This translated into a net income figure of £38m with the 81 equity partners giving a PEP figure of £469,000 – a 15% fall on last year’s £554,000.

The firm was also hit with a professional negligence dispute earlier this year, brought by a former maritime client, Pimesa Trading Incorporated, which accused the firm of acting negligently when it advised on a contract for the sale of an offshore drilling rig.

Ince & Co’s numbers have not fared much better, having fallen for the second year running, down by 8% to £79.4m from the £86.7m posted in 2013/14. In April, the firm’s headcount was cut after it restructured its partnership and support staff with six partners and ten secretarial staff set to depart.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Voting with your feet: Nabarro and HFW pick BPP after Kaplan shuts law school

Voting with your feet: Nabarro and HFW pick BPP after Kaplan shuts law school

After more than five years at Kaplan, both Nabarro and Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) have opted for BPP as their Legal Practice Course (LPC) provider over the University of Law (ULaw).

A Nabarro spokesperson confirmed it had moved, saying it considered its options after Kaplan announced it would close its law school. The spokesperson said Nabarro was familiar with BPP from a recent close run tender, and the law school had offered it a ‘high-quality tailored qualification.’

‘As well as the quality of their LPC we are impressed that they can also offer our students the choice of obtaining a Masters through the LPC combined with additional learning on business and finance modules,’ the Nabarro spokesperson added.

HFW also said it would make the switch, having begun a review before the law school closed. It is understood the firm, which provided 15 students per year, was worth about 10% of Kaplan’s LPC revenues.

HFW graduate recruitment partner Toby Stephens said the firm was ‘surprised’ by Kaplan’s decision to move premises and said ‘the time was right’ for a review. Stephens said HFW knew Kaplan was in financial difficulty but did not know the extent to which it had lost clients.

‘There was nothing which prevented us from having a review and we probably should have done it the year before,’ Stephens said.

BPP edged out ULaw because of its optional modules and its better established insurance course, the recruitment partner commented. The City Law School was involved in the early stages of the tender for HFW’s trainees, but Stephens said its pricing was not competitive. 

BPP has been on quite a run in recent months, picking up Baker & McKenzie and White & Case from rival University of Law as well as Magic Circle duo Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance.

victoria.young@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

PEP plunges 15% to fall below £500k at Holman Fenwick as revenue drops

PEP plunges 15% to fall below £500k at Holman Fenwick as revenue drops

Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) has seen a 15% slide in its profits per equity partner (PEP) for the 2014/15 financial year as the firm increased its partnership ranks but saw turnover and profit fall.

The firm, which has 13 offices including Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney and Sao Paulo, saw a 3% drop in revenue from £144m to 139m with the UK generating over half of this bringing in £70m. This translated into a net income figure of £38m with the 81 equity partners giving a PEP figure of £469,000 – a 15% fall on last year’s £554,000.

HFW’s expanded partnership ranks came as six associates were made up last year and a further 12 partners were brought in as lateral hires. In its most recent round, partners were made up in Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, London and Sydney.

The falling numbers mark the end of a steady increase in recent years with revenues up 2% in 2013/14 and PEP up 5% while in 2012/13 the firm saw revenue grow to £141m, up from £124m the previous year. However, over a five year period the firm is still in positive territory recording growth of 39% on its 2010 numbers.

michael.west@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

HFW and Gibson Dunn lead as Rothschild exits troubled Asia Resource Minerals

HFW and Gibson Dunn lead as Rothschild exits troubled Asia Resource Minerals

A four-partner team from Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) has spearheaded ACE’s high-profile purchase of Nat Rothschild’s stake in troubled Indonesian coal miner Asia Resource Minerals with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher acting for the British financier and Ashurst for Indonesia’s Widjaja family.

An investment vehicle for Hong Kong-based asset manager Argyle Street Management, ACE takes Rothschild’s 17.2% stake in the London-listed company just five years after he founded it with Indonesia’s politically influential Bakrie family. Rothschild, who has vowed to never invest in Indonesia again after years of attempting to wrestle back control of the company and a costly litigation process to recover $173m allegedly misappropriated by former shareholders, nets £23m from the sale. A long-time adviser, Gibson Dunn’s City corporate partner Nigel Stacey was instructed by Rothschild on the deal.

The Singapore and London offices of HFW are advising both Argyle Street Management and its bid vehicle, ACE, on its proposed all cash offer of Asia Resource Minerals. The HFW team was led by Singapore M&A partner Brian Gordon, as well as London-based corporate finance partner James Lewis and corporate partners Nick Hutton and Jayson Marks. Ashurst advised the Widjaja family, which is also involved in ACE, on the deal.

ACE paid Rothschild 56p per share, a 52% premium on Asia Resource Minerals’ share price. The company’s board has recommended the ACE offer which values the company at more than $200m.

The scandal hit company, renamed from Bumi to Asia Resource Minerals following the bitter feud between Rothschild and the Bakrie family, was probed by the SFO in 2013 over a missing £48m linked to former director Rosan Roeslani.

Brian Gordon, HFW corporate partner, said: ‘The deal, which is yet to close, has involved considerable interaction with the UK Takeover Panel and a number of interested parties. Investor appetite for the Indonesian coal sector is currently strong, and with some Indonesian miners posting an impressive return on equity exceeding 20% it is clear to see why. Nonetheless, the requirements of bodies like the UK Takeover Panel must be adhered to in order to capitalise on this commercial benefit.’

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: CC loses another German partner as Ashurst hires from Reed Smith and HFW turns to Orrick

Revolving doors: CC loses another German partner as Ashurst hires from Reed Smith and HFW turns to Orrick

Last week saw K&L Gates become the latest firm to pick up a partner from Clifford Chance’s (CC) Germany practice, hiring an intellectual property (IP) partner into its Frankfurt office. Meanwhile, Ashurst turn to Reed smith to hire a global head for its pro bono practice, Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) boosted it Paris finance team with a high-profile higher from Orrick and in-house saw Publicis Groupe appoint a new general counsel (GC).

IP partner Thorsten Vormann joined K&L Gates after having spent 23 years at CC and its predecessor firm, including 18 as partner. His tenure at the Magic Circle firm included heading CC’s German IP and trademark department since 2006 and has seen him work for clients including Fabergé, Hyundai and Siemens. He focuses on patent infringement disputes but has also done non-contentious work.

Also on the Continent, HFW hired Jean-Marc Zampa from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe where he was the local head of banking and finance. Having spent 12 years at Orrick, Zampa started his career at Arthur Andersen, before joining HSBC as in-house counsel and then Watson Farley & Williams for just over a year.

Zampa has covered a range of finance structures but has a particular expertise in ship finance having worked with ship owners, banks and corporate borrowers. Robert Follie, managing partner of the HFW’s Paris office said: ‘[Zampa’s] expertise extends the capabilities we can provide to clients in our sectors of focus and will be particularly valued by clients who operate in the shipping, aviation and energy sectors.’

Meanwhile, Ashurst also made a senior hire from a US firm, bringing in Sarah Morton-Ramwell as global head of pro bono from Reed Smith. At Reed Smith, Morton-Ramwell was responsible for the firm’s pro bono and corporate responsibility projects in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Sarah focused on improving access to justice for the disadvantaged and those in need, which included working and partnering with clients to develop their in-house pro bono programmes as well as their involvement in pro bono matters and clinics.

James Collis, managing partner, said: ‘Having a world-class pro bono programme of sufficient scale is a clear priority for the firm. Pro bono is an integral part of Ashurst and appointing someone who is so highly regarded internationally and understands the differing needs of pro bono around the world will be a significant boost for our practice.’

Morton-Ramwell added: ‘Having a globally renowned practice can also support the firm’s strategy and ability to successfully attract and retain the best talent. I am delighted to have joined the firm and to have the opportunity to help to further develop a programme of the highest quality and integrity.’

Finally, Publicis Groupe, one of the ‘Big Four’ advertising and public relations companies, appointed Joe LaSala as GC replacing Eric-Antoine Fredette, who had been in the position for three years. LaSala was previously senior vice president and general counsel at Sapient but has held numerous senior in-house roles in media, technology and the oil and gas industries.

michael.west@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Leadership changes: Dentons’ UKMEA chief and HFW managing partner to stand down

Leadership changes: Dentons’ UKMEA chief and HFW managing partner to stand down

Just weeks after announcing its audacious entry into the Chinese legal market with local firm Dacheng, Dentons has confirmed that longstanding UKMEA chief executive Matthew Jones will not seek re-appointment in his managerial role when his term ends in March. Insurance-focused Holman Fenwick Willan (HFW) also announced a leadership change today (9 February), appointing a new managing partner to take over from George Eddings.

Dentons has now started the process to appoint Jones’ successor which, instead of an election process for the fixed four-year position, will involve the board carrying out a soundings process and then making a decision which is ratified by the partnership.

The firm stated that considering its recently announced tie-up with Dacheng and recent results, ‘the time is right for a new UKMEA chief executive to take the helm and for [Jones] to take on a new, different role.’ He will continue to serve on the Dentons global board and remains a partner.

Having taken over the reins in 2011, energy specialist Jones has seen the firm through substantial change in recent years, including the $1bn tripartite union between legacy SNR Denton, Salans and Canadian firm Fraser Milner Casgrain in 2013 using a Swiss verein.

In recently released UKMEA LLP accounts, the firm saw a substantial rise in profits as it lowered operating costs and improved turnover.

Jones said: ‘It’s been an immense privilege to serve Dentons as UKMEA CEO during a period of transformative growth and success. No other law firm is shaping the global legal industry with such impact or at such speed. As my term as UKMEA CEO comes to an end, and with the firm on the cusp of even more success, now is the time to pass on the baton.’

Meanwhile, HFW announced that at the end of his two year term as managing partner, George Eddings will also return to full time fee earning and be succeeded by Marcus Bowman with effect from 1 April. Eddings was formerly head of the firm’s global shipping and transport group, and mainly worked in disputes. Bowman also specialises in disputes with a particular focus on shipping, energy and mining, and logistics.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Financial results 2013/14: Slight revenue and PEP increase at Holman

Financial results 2013/14: Slight revenue and PEP increase at Holman

UK top-30 insurance firm Holman Fenwick Willan has posted a slight increase of 2% in global revenues with receipts growing to £143.8m in the last financial year ending 2013/14, only marginally up from £141m the previous year. Profits per equity partner (PEP) at the firm fared better, coming in at £554,000, an increase of 5% from £528,000 last year.

The firm’s highest earning equity member was paid £662,000, while the lowest earning member took home £331,000. Around 29 of the firm’s equity partners sit at the top of Holman Fenwick’s lockstep.

Some 78% of the firm’s gross revenues are generated from its disputes practice, followed by 15% from corporate and the remaining 7% from finance.

The firm’s London fee income alone generated £76.6m. Headcount at the firm remains more or less the same as last year with 420 total lawyers and 148 partners, the bulk of which are based in London, followed by Asia and Australia. Holman Fenwick made six partner promotions in April this year, five of which were promoted in London.

George Eddings, Holman Fenwick’s managing partner, said: ‘We were pleased to maintain our strong financial performance last year and continue to actively seek further growth and investment opportunities in our core sectors of focus.’

The firm was recently selected as one of the nine firms to provide niche legal services for BP’s specialist panel.

Jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

LLP latest: Trowers accounts confirm profits slide as Holman and Stephenson Harwood power on

LLP latest: Trowers accounts confirm profits slide as Holman and Stephenson Harwood power on

What finer way to kick off the New Year than a stream of law firm limited liability partnership (LLP) accounts? The latest in a run of recent filings confirm the extent of the fall in profitability at Trowers & Hamlins, while Holman Fenwick Willan and Stephenson Harwood confirm revenue increases.

Trowers’ LLP accounts for 2012/13 show that the firm’s net income fell from £26.2m to £16.1m while operating profit was down from £28.4m to £18.8m. The firm said the sharp fall in profits was largely due to the cost of moving its new London headquarters. Its turnover also decreased by 3.6% to £78.2m in 2013 from £81.2m the previous year.

The firm’s overall staff count grew from 514 to 527 while fee earner headcount remained static with the highest paid equity partner taking home £411,002, down from £496,838 in 2012.

Moreover, the firm took out new loans and finance leases during 2013 totalling £5.8m compared to £785,000 in 2012. The firm’s cash position has weakened against the previous year, moving from a surplus of £8.17m to net debt of £5.19m.

The firm, which has in recent years had to weather a slowdown in its public sector practice and problems in its Middle East network, also today (3 January) confirmed that it was to close its Cairo branch, citing uncertainty in Egypt. Trowers’ Cairo managing partner Sara Hinton along with other fee-earners will join local firm Ibrachy & Partners and operate on a ‘best friends’ basis.

In contrast, at Holman Fenwick revenue grew to £141.4m in the financial year 2012/13, up from £124.2m the previous year, while profits also rose to £47m from £39.7m. The firm has been one of the most financially successful practices in the UK top 50 over the last five years, with revenues rising 82% since 2008.

The firm employed 445 fee-earners on average compared to 436 the previous year, while the overall staff headcount was slightly lower at 771 compared to 780 in 2012. Staff costs increased to £53.4m from £49.3m. The firm’s average number of members grew from 128 to 141.

The LLP’s bank borrowings totalled £16.1m compared to £17.8m the previous financial year.

Meanwhile, Stephenson Harwood’s revenue increased by 3.7% to £113.3m to £109.3m, after announcing a 2% growth in revenue from £110.2m to £112.3m in July. The firm told Legal Business the unaccounted £800,000 was due to subletting income.

The firm’s profit remained static against preliminary estimates at £36.8m. The figures come after the firm transferred to a LLP structure in March 2012.

Member headcount grew from 105 to 112, with the highest paid LLP member receiving £895,000, down from £910,000 in the previous year. Average fee-earner and support staff headcount also increased from 506 to 522 and 173 to 180 respectively with the overall staff increasing from 679 to 702. This led to staff costs rising to £41.4m from £39.6m.

The firm’s pension liabilities also grew firm £39.9m in 2012 to £47.6m while its pension deficit also increased from £4.8m to £6.6m. In addition, the firm has bank loans of £6.2m, which it will pay in 32 quarterly instalments of £200,000 until February 2021.

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk