Legal Business

Losing QCs: BLP’s plan to compete with the Bar hit by another advocacy exit

Losing QCs: BLP’s plan to compete with the Bar hit by another advocacy exit

Stuart Isaacs QC, the man brought in to lead Berwin Leighton Paisner‘s advocacy unit and compete with the Bar, has departed for King & Spalding.

Berwin Leighton Paisner launched its advocacy unit, to much fanfare, at the start of 2011. Isaacs was brought in to lead the unit, arriving from South Square barristers’ chambers, and his exit is the latest blow to an already depleted team.

Just last month, the brains behind the operation, head of arbitration Nicholas Fletcher QC, departed for 4 New Square. An influential board member, Fletcher launched the strategy to take disputes ‘from instruction to trial’.

The exit of two of the firm’s three Queen’s Counsel in just two months has hit that strategy hard with head of charities Janet Turner QC lacking experience with corporate work.

BLP said in a statement: ‘BLP will continue its focus on providing fully integrated dispute resolution services to its clients, including trial advocacy. We have nearly 30 solicitor advocates, partners who sit as arbitrators and part time as judges, and we have increasingly been conducting advocacy in International Arbitration particularly in London, Moscow, Abu Dhabi and Singapore. We intend to continue to build our team of senior trial lawyers/advocates.’

For King & Spalding, Isaacs becomes the firm’s second Queen’s Counsel this year, with head of arbitration Tom Sprange having been appointed as QC earlier this month. Isaacs has chaired the advocacy in over 200 commercial cases during a 30-year career and was the first London QC authorised by the Singapore Attorney General to practice as a foreign lawyer. He sits regularly as an arbitrator and is a deputy judge of the High Court of England and Wales.

Isaacs said that ‘King & Spalding has a superior disputes practice’ and announced that he plans to create the ‘one-stop-shop’ for disputes that BLP failed to realise. ‘I am glad to be partnering with King & Spalding’s talented, entrepreneurial team of lawyers who share my vision,’ he added.

He is the firm’s fourth partner hire in London since the start of October and the fourteenth disputes lawyer in the City office. King & Spalding hired capital markets duo Markus Bauman from Latham & Watkins and Tom O’Neill from Linklaters at the end of 2014. It also persuaded Bingham McCutchen restructuring partner Elisabeth Baltay to join King & Spalding rather than follow the exodus of that office to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld.

‘Stuart enhances our disputes offering in London and Europe, as well as in Asia, where he has a fantastic reputation,’ said Reggie Smith, global head of King & Spalding’s disputes group. ‘He will contribute significantly to developing new business in London and securing opportunities that require strong advocacy at trial.’

Legal Business

Bringing a ‘new dimension’: King & Spalding hires Linklaters securities partner

Bringing a ‘new dimension’: King & Spalding hires Linklaters securities partner

Linklaters’ partner Tom O’Neill has swapped Silk Street for Old Broad Street with King & Spalding making a double hire to anchor its capital markets practice in Europe.

A member of the New York Bar, O’Neill leaves Linklaters after 13 years as a partner. He specialises in corporate finance and securities offerings, representing issuers, sellers and underwriters in offerings of equity and debt securities.

He spent seven years in Linklaters Paris office before heading up the firm’s Turkey desk from London. He’s been involved in the £1.9bn privatisation of Royal Mail and the transactions for holiday retailer Thomas Cook Group and insurer Direct Line.

King & Spalding, which hired Bingham McCutchen’s London restructuring partner Elisabath Baltay last month, has also recruited Latham & Watkins New York-qualified counsel in capital markets Markus Bauman. The firm has brought him in as a partner in what marks a period of aggressive expansion for the firm. Bauman, who spent four years as executive director of Goldman Sachs’ investment banking legal department, joins after a recent spell in the debt capital markets legal department at JP Morgan.

‘Tom and Markus are strong additions to our corporate practice and bring us a new dimension,’ said Ray Baltz, head of corporate at King & Spalding. ‘Tom’s broad capital markets experience is a natural complement to the complex M&A, private equity and finance work we provide our clients, while Markus’s capital markets experience and his perspective as both in-house and outside counsel lend insight and depth to the firm’s growing European capital markets work.’

O’Neill added: ‘King & Spalding has a dynamic London office. We could not pass up the opportunity to work with the entire corporate team in London, New York and around the world to continue to build out the firm’s capital markets practice.’

Legal Business

Freshfields NY corporate partner joins King & Spalding as former Amsterdam chief joins boutique

Freshfields NY corporate partner joins King & Spalding as former Amsterdam chief joins boutique

With Magic Circle firms still vowing to break ground in the US legal market, Manhattan-based corporate partner Matthew Jacobson has left Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and joined top-40 US firm King & Spalding while in the Netherlands, well-respected Robert ten Have has joined Rutgers & Posch.

Jacobson will work across King & Spalding’s New York and Silicon Valley offices to advise the firm’s clients and matters on the west coast.

Most recently, Jacobson was co-head of Freshfields’ technology sector group and a member of the firm’s India committee, with a particular focus on large, complex deals for public and private global companies.

Recent noteworthy deals include advising medical device manufacturer Invatec on the sale of its business to Medtronic for $500m; representing Chinese automaker Geely on its $1.8bn agreement with Ford to purchase Volvo; and advising CVC on its $4.4bn bid to purchase the ishares ETF business from Barclays Global Investors – although this was later terminated.

Jacobson joined the Magic Circle firm in May 2005, before which he was corporate counsel at Hewlett-Packard for five years, overseeing M&A activities, including the purchase and global restructuring of Compaq.

Jacobson is the fourth partner to join King & Spalding’s New York transactional practices in the past ten months, and joins debt finance partner Ellen Snare who joined from Kirkland & Ellis in March, and alternative investment specialist Drew Chapman who joined as a partner from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in May this year.

Jacobson said: ‘There is great momentum at King & Spalding. I look forward to working with all the partners, especially those in the California Silicon Valley office and in the healthcare/life sciences and energy groups.’

Freshfields has also lost the former head of its Amsterdam office, partner Robert ten Have, to Dutch boutique Rutgers & Posch. He will join on 1 September and continue to focus on capital market transactions, M&A and corporate governance. 

His departure follows that of another major Dutch heavyweight, partner Richard Norbruis, to big four accountancy giant EY in June 2014.

Legal Business

BLP’s head of banking and finance litigation defects to King & Spalding

Hughes’ exit follows spate of departures from international firm

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP)’s head of banking and finance litigation, David Hughes, is set to leave the firm to join the litigation team at King & Spalding.

Described by one former BLP partner as a ‘big-hitting litigator’, Hughes specialises in asset recovery (including ships and aircrafts) and security enforcement involving complicated capital markets products, as well as the enforcement of bond structures and International Swaps and Derivatives Association contracts. He also advises clients on fraud, financial irregularities and money laundering issues.

Legal Business

BLP’s head of banking and finance litigation exits to King & Spalding

BLP’s head of banking and finance litigation exits to King & Spalding

Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP’s) head of banking and finance litigation David Hughes is set to leave the firm to join the litigation team at King & Spalding.

Said by one ex-BLP partner to be a ‘big hitting litigator’, Hughes specialises in asset recovery (including ships and aircrafts) and security enforcement involving complicated capital markets products, as well as the enforcement of bond structures and ISDA contracts. He also advises clients in relation to investigating fraud, financial irregularities and money laundering issues.

The banking litigation team at BLP is currently acknowledged by the Legal 500 as ‘excellent, particularly in terms of commercial awareness and appropriateness of advice.’

Hughes, who was previously national head of banking and finance litigation at DLA Piper between 1992 and 2005, is the latest in a series of lateral hires to King & Spalding’s London litigation team, following the arrival of Steptoe & Johnson’s Russia and CIS group co-head Egishe Dzhazoyan; fellow Steptoe partner Tom Sprange, and Bird & Bird duo Jane Player and Sarah Walker.

Hughes is also the latest high profile partner resignation from beleaguered BLP, following just weeks after real estate finance duo Andrew Flemming and Jo Solomon announced their departure for Hogan Lovells.

Those exits shortly follow BLP’s head of real estate finance Laurence Rogers’ resignation for DLA Piper alongside commercial real estate partner Richard Hopkinson-Woolley and corporate tax partner Neville Wright, who join former BLP corporate partner Patrick Somers.

Other recent departures from the top 20 UK firm include banking and capital markets partner Paul Simcock and former head of restructuring Ben Larkin, who joined Jones Day in March and February respectively; and acquisition finance partner Marcus Jamson, who joined Wedlake Bell in January.

A statement from King & Spalding today (16 April) said: ‘King & Spalding is continually on the lookout for talented lawyers whose careers and experience make them a good fit at the firm. Naturally, from time to time, we engage in direct discussions with these lawyers. However, as a matter of policy any such discussion is private, and we comment only when there is an official announcement.’

Update: BLP on 17 April announced the promotion of Oliver Glynn-Jones, a partner in the commercial dispute resolution group, to head of BLP’s banking litigation practice, effective 1 May 2014.

A statement from BLP said: ‘Oliver is currently acting in a number of significant and market leading cases for global investment banks including, for instance, issues resulting from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, including the Eurosail case which recently went to the Supreme Court, as well as acting for a number of other parties in securitisation programmes in resolving similar issues.’

Legal Business

Trucking ahead – King & Spalding, Hill Dickinson and Minter Ellison advise on £280m Eddie Stobart majority stake sale

Trucking ahead – King & Spalding, Hill Dickinson and Minter Ellison advise on £280m Eddie Stobart majority stake sale

Rare in the transport world for having its own television show, King & Spalding, Hill Dickinson and Minter Ellison have secured roles on the £280m sale of a majority stake in iconic UK haulage company Eddie Stobart, announced this week.

The sale by the Stobart Group to a group led by chief operating officer William Stobart, sees US top 40 Global 100 firm King & Spalding advise Stobart’s financial backers, DouglasBay Capital.

King & Spalding’s London team was led by corporate partner William Charnley, former managing partner of McDermott Will & Emery’s London office, who joined Mayer Brown in 2007 and later King & Spalding in 2012 as part of a series of lateral hires to build up its City capability. The deal team includes tax partner Kevin Conway and employment partner Pulina Whitaker.

Under the terms of the deal the Stobart Group will release 51% of holding company Eddie Stobart Logistics, comprising of £195.6m in cash, £44.1m in shares and around $41.1m in debt, allowing the company to repay some debt and return capital to shareholders.

Hill Dickinson advised long-standing client the Stobart Group, with a team led by Jonathan Brown. Brown previously advised the Stobart Group on its acquisition of James Irlam & Son for £60m in 2008.

William Stobart is being advised by Minter Ellison’s London corporate M&A partner Michael Wallin.

The Eddie Stobart brand began with individually named green trucks and drivers that must wave and honk their horn if waved to, and has grown to encompass its own Channel 5 television show, Trucks and Trailers.

However, the Stobart Group is reported by the Financial Times to be diversifying away from road haulage, and has widened its portfolio with acquisitions including Southend Airport in 2008 for £21m, and Carlisle Lake District Airport a year later for £9.9m. Hill Dickinson led by Brown advised the group on both those acquisitions. The group also operates a rail freight operation under the name of Stobart Rail.

Last year the group announced it would launch a law firm, One Legal, after being granted alternative business structure status by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The company also offers its clients direct access to a network of barristers for fixed fee.

Legal Business

US results season 2013: McDermott and King & Spalding post 4% increase in revenue

US results season 2013: McDermott and King & Spalding post 4% increase in revenue

Chicago-headquartered firm McDermott Will & Emery has continued its post-financial crisis recovery, unveiling a 3.5% increase in revenue to $881m, as close US rival in revenue terms, King & Spalding sees its turnover increase by 4% to $861.4m.

McDermott’s net income also grew in 2013, with a 7% increase to $297m, fuelling an increase in profit per equity partner (PEP) to $1.545m. The top 40 Global 100 firm’s profit margin rose by a percentage point to 34%, while its revenue per lawyer increased by 4.2% to $865,000.

While the results are a considerable way off from McDermott’s 2009 turnover of $962m, after which it suffered a post-recession drop in revenue of over 18% in two years, it marks the continuation of recovery first tracked in the Global100 2012 edition, when the firm posted a 5% increase to $825.3m, followed by 3% increase to $851m last year.

The 1,024-lawyer firm was active in the lateral hiring market in 2013, bringing in 22 partners across 11 US and international offices. One of McDermott’s stand-out hires was that of former Ashurst German private equity head Nikolaus Von Jacobs in December last year to head up the firm’s private equity practice in Munich.

In the US, June last year saw McDermott hire former deputy associate attorney general, Marisa Chun to its Silicon Valley office, bolstering the firm’s trial practice. It further strengthened its white collar crime practice with the hires of Houston-based Michael Wynne, a former assistant US attorney in the Southern District of Texas, and Patton Boggs partner Todd Harrison in New York in September last year. The firm also secured the hire of the former general counsel of the US patent and trademark office, IP litigator Bernard Knight, in July last year.

Elsewhere, more profitable top 40 Global100 firm King & Spalding joins the growing list of US firms posting positive 2013 results, with revenue up by 4% to $861.4m from $827.5m and its PEP figure up by 8% to $2.14m from $1.99m.

Since 2009, the 873-lawyer firm’s revenue has increased by 27.1% from $677.5m.

The financial results come as Los Angeles-originated global firm Paul Hastings this week posted a 2013 increase of 3.6% in turnover to $941m from $908m last year. PEP is up by 4.6% to $2.175m, while RPL also grew by 5% to $1.06m.

This month US firms including Dechert, Sidley Austin, Goodwin Proctor and Latham & Watkins have all posted solid increases in revenue for 2013.

Latham revealed moderate growth figures, with revenue up by 2.7% to $2.29bn, while Sidley Austin posted solid 2013 results, with revenue up by around 7% to $1.6bn from $1.49bn and net profits up by around the same margin to $547m from $510.5m.

Legal Business

US lateral spree: Jones Day closes in on 50 hires for 2013 as King & Spalding continues to crank up City offering

US lateral spree: Jones Day closes in on 50 hires for 2013 as King & Spalding continues to crank up City offering

In its 49th lateral hire of 2013, Jones Day has hired Latham & Watkins finance partner Brian Conway to its London banking and finance practice. His hire comes amid a spate of lateral hires to take place between US-based international firms recently.

Conway is the tenth partner to join one of the firm’s global banking and finance practices this year, following the hire of former co-chair of Miami-based firm Akerman Senterfitt’s Rafael Aguilar who joined Jones Day’s recently launched Miami banking and finance practice in July.

More recently, Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) corporate finance partner and global head of private equity Raymond McKeeve left to join the private equity practice in London last month.

Conway’s appointment comes as the firm continues to strengthen its banking and finance practices worldwide with an increased focus on leveraged acquisitions across European jurisdictions.

Conway has 20 years’ experience of representing financial institutions on domestic and international cross-border financing transactions, including leveraged and Islamic finance.

Before Latham, he spent 13 years at White & Case, where he was a partner and helped build the firm’s banking and finance practice in Singapore and establish the leveraged finance practice in Asia.

Jones Day London head John Phillips said: ‘Brian will prove to be a significant boost to our finance capability in London. He is highly experienced in leveraged acquisition finance, which will be beneficial to our global clients as they look to execute deals in Europe’s largest financial hub. The City is a magnet for major multi-jurisdictional financial transactions and Brian has taken a lead role in some of the most significant leveraged financings led out of London over the past decade.’

Meanwhile, King & Spalding‘s lateral hiring programme in the City continues with the addition of Mayer Brown finance partner Angela Hayes to launch its London financial services regulatory practice. The hire is the seventh in a series of partner additions to the London office since the beginning of 2012, bringing the current number of partners to 16. Hayes was head of LG’s financial services regulatory group before joining Mayer Brown in 2008.

Most recently, King & Spalding recruited Egishe Dzhazoyan from Steptoe & Johnson in June, where he was a dispute resolution partner in London and co-head of the Russia and CIS group. He joined former Steptoe colleague Tom Sprange, as well as Jane Player and Sarah Walker, who joined from Bird & Bird last year.

Financial services regulatory becomes the firm’s second City practice launch this year after the firm opened its London trade practice in May with the hire of Bird & Bird’s head of international trade and customs, Iain MacVay. At the time, King & Spalding told Legal Business its ambition was to double its City base to around 60-75 fee earners by the end of 2014.

King & Spalding’s financial institutions practice co-leader Richard Marooney said: ‘Angela is a strong addition to our financial institutions practice. She expands our roster of finance partners who provide highly sophisticated work for our clients. Financial services regulatory law is a highly complex area of the law—made even more so with the enactment of the Financial Services Act 2012 and creation of the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority—and we are fortunate to have Angela join us.’

‘It is now the time for us to invest in a financial regulatory practice,’ said London co-managing partner Garry Pegg. ‘Regulatory work was once looked upon as a loss leader for global firms like us, but now in tougher economic climates, with financial institutions having been through highly visible public turmoil, the work has assumed a new and critical importance to our clients.’

Meanwhile in Brussels, Baker Botts has recruited heavyweight competition law specialist Georg Berrisch as a partner in its Brussels office from Covington & Burling. Berrisch is a recognized expert in competition law, state aid and trade matters in the European Union and has experience of developing political strategies in complex contentious proceedings before the European Commission, the Court of Justice and the General Court of the EU.

Most recently, he represented Ryanair in its appeal against the EU Commission merger control decision made earlier this year, which prohibited Ryanair from acquiring control of Aer Lingus. He joins Baker Botts partners Catriona Hatton and Paul Lugard, who opened the office last September.

‘Our goal since opening the Brussels office has been to provide our clients the type of quality legal representation on complex antitrust and trade matters expected of a global firm such as Baker Botts,’ said Hatton, the partner in charge of the London office. ‘Georg, as a skilled EU litigator with a great track record in competition and trade matters, adds significant strength to the Brussels office, not only for the EU market but also for clients across the Baker Botts global network.’

Meanwhile, Pillsbury has ramped up its London intellectual property (IP) office in a bid to add international and industry experience in contentious and non-contentious IP matters. The firm has hired a team of IP lawyers from Gowlings, including partner and founder of Gowlings’ London office James Tumbridge and partner Paul Harris.

Pillsbury chair James Rishwain said: ‘The addition of such experienced litigators to Pillsbury’s IP practice reinforces the firm’s capability to offer global counsel to international clients anywhere in the world. Their extensive experience on contentious IP matters and their government advisory work adds considerably to Pillsbury’s existing strengths in IP and global sourcing.’

Legal Business

Deal Watch: Dentons & King & Spalding act on HR Owen hostile takeover bid as Freshfields and Skadden secure Asian M&A roles

Deal Watch: Dentons & King & Spalding act on HR Owen hostile takeover bid as Freshfields and Skadden secure Asian M&A roles

While the traditional August lull in corporate work may have seen Asia relax, the giant is far from asleep and has gifted a number of transatlantic and Magic Circle firms with eye-catching international M&A deals.

Dentons led by corporate partner Jeremy Cohen is advising luxury car dealer HR Owen on the £32.5m hostile takeover bid by Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Philippines, which HR Owen last week rejected as ‘derisory’.According to Cohen, Dentons, which has previously advised HR Owen out of its Milton Keynes office, advised on the defence and takeover roles.

Top 40 US firm King & Spalding led by London corporate partner William Charnley is advising Berjaya Philippines on the attempted takeover, which valued the company at 130 pence a share and will be voted on by shareholders later this month. Charnley, who has held roles as head of corporate finance at Simmons & Simmons and London managing partner of McDermott Will & Emery, joined King & Spalding’s London office in July last year.

The bidder has until 19 August to obtain the requisite level of acceptances by shareholders.

Elsewhere, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Reed Smith Richards Butler Hong Kong are advising leading UK retailer Tesco and China Resources Enterprise (CRE) respectively on talks to combine their Chinese retail operations to form a leading retailer in the People’s Republic. Tesco, which has been operating in China since 2004 and has 131 stores, is looking to combine with CRE’s 3000 outlets trading as Vanguard.

The Freshfields team is being led by client relationship partner Claire Wills, head of Freshfields’ retail sector group, while at Reed Smith corporate partner Ivy Lai is leading a team out of Hong Kong.

The proposed joint venture would create a business with sales of £10bn, in which CRE would control 80%, with the remaining 20% controlled by Tesco. However, according to Tesco, there is no certainty that the transaction will go through.

Elsewhere, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is advising Cheil Industries and Samsung Electronics on an acquisition of a majority stake in lighting specialist Novaled. Cheil Industries is set to acquire 50% while Samsung will take 40% of the company in a deal that values Novaled at €260m. The remaining 10% is currently held by Samsung Venture Investments, which will maintain its shareholding.

The Skadden team is being led by M&A partners Matthias Horbach in Frankfurt and Young Shin in New York alongside tax partner Johannes Frey in Frankfurt. Sullivan & Cromwell led by Frankfurt corporate partner York Schnorbus advised Novaled. This will be Samsung’s first large strategic investment in Germany.

Legal Business

Strategic Recruitment: King & Spalding continues City drive with Steptoe hire

Strategic Recruitment: King & Spalding continues City drive with Steptoe hire

King & Spalding has continued its City recruitment drive with the hire of Steptoe & Johnson’s London dispute resolution partner and co-head of the Russia and CIS group, Egishe Dzhazoyan.

Listed by Legal 500 as a leading arbitrator with ‘excellent common sense’, Dzhazoyan is a UK and Russian-qualified lawyer who has represented clients in more than 50 arbitration and litigation proceedings across a host of international jurisdictions. He has a particular focus on the banking, telecoms and energy sectors.

Dzhazoyan becomes the 15th partner in King & Spalding’s growing London office and the fourth dispute resolution partner, joining Tom Sprange, Jane Player and Sarah Walker. Player and Walker joined the firm from Bird & Bird last year.

According to an announcement by the firm today, Dzhazoyan will work closely with the Moscow office, which launched a Russian disputes practice in February with the recruitment of partner Ilia Rachkov, who recently acted as an expert witness on Russian law in the high profile £3.5bn dispute between Roman Abramovich and former business partner Boris Berezovsky.

‘Egishe is an excellent lawyer who is highly regarded in key King & Spalding practice areas, including financial services and energy,’ said John Keffer (pictured), co-managing partner of the London office. ‘His addition will add further depth to our London disputes group, which has become one of the largest practice areas in the office, as well as form another significant link with our Russian practice.’

In May, the Legal Business Global 100 top 40 firm launched its London trade practice with the hire of Bird & Bird’s head of international trade and customs for Brussels and London, Iain MacVay. The firm’s stated ambition is to double its City base to around 60-75 fee earners by the end of 2014.