Legal Business

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

Global firms lined up to advise as Thomas Cook rescue talks fail

With news this weekend that Thomas Cook is on the brink of collapse and has ceased trading with immediate effect, a number of global elite firms have been lined up to advise on the latest high-profile collapse of a household name.

Ashurst is advising  the Official Receiver as well as AlixPartners and KPMG, which were appointed as special managers in respect of certain Thomas Cook entities, while Slaughter and May and Latham & Watkins are advising Thomas Cook. Insolvency practitioners from AlixPartners have been appointed as special managers over the airline and tour operator companies, while practitioners from KPMG have been appointed as special managers to the group’s retail division and to its aircraft maintenance companies.

Giles Boothman, Olga Galazoula and Lynn Dunne are leading the Ashurst team, with Crowley Woodford and Ruth Buchanan advising on the employment law aspects and Derwin Jenkinson, Tom Mercer and James Fletcher focusing on the corporate side. Meanwhile, the Slaughters team is being led by Tom Vickers and the Latham team is headed by partners Nick Cline, John Houghton and James Inness.

A Reed Smith team from the UK, Germany and the US are advising the Civil Aviation Authority in relation to the insolvency. The Civil Aviation Authority and AlixPartners will work together to deal with the repatriation of all stranded customers. The team is led by partners Richard Spafford who is advising on licensing and regulatory issues, Charlotte Møller leads on the insolvency law and contingency planning for the repatriation, while Nick Williams is advising on the financial aspects.

Chief executive of Thomas Cook Peter Fankhauser commented: ‘We have worked exhaustively in the past few days to resolve the outstanding issues on an agreement to secure Thomas Cook’s future for its employees, customers and suppliers.  Although a deal had been largely agreed, an additional facility requested in the last few days of negotiations presented a challenge that ultimately proved insurmountable.’

In July, a team led by restructuring partner Ian Johnson, financing partner Ed Fife and corporate partner Richard Smith from Slaughters and a team from Latham & Watkins advised Thomas Cook Group in relation to the proposed recapitalisation plan.

Thomas Cook was looking for a £750m investment and was in talks with its largest shareholder, Fosun Tourism Group, as well as the company’s core lenders on a substantial new capital investment as part of a proposed recapitalisation and separation of the group.

Legal Business

Latham turns focus to Manhattan as chair Trobman relocates from London

Latham turns focus to Manhattan as chair Trobman relocates from London

Latham & Watkins’ leadership is moving out of London after four years with City-based chair and managing partner Rich Trobman is set to relocate to his native US just over a year into his first term at the helm of the firm.

The firm confirmed today (29 July) that Trobman is moving to its New York branch almost 20 years after relocating to London in 2000 in a symbolic shift for the partnership of the Los Angeles-born firm.

Trobman (pictured) said he was ‘immensely proud’ of what the firm had achieved in London and there was ‘tremendous opportunity for us to grow still further in a number of key markets, including New York’. He added: ‘I will continue to spend a considerable amount of time in London and as well as our offices across the globe.’

As Latham’s second consecutive leader based in London, Trobman stepped into the role for a five-year term in June last year , three months after predecessor Bill Voge resigned amid allegations of misconduct. London-based projects partner Voge had taken over from the firm’s leader of 20 years, California-based Bob Dell, in January 2015.

Trobman meanwhile joined Latham in 1991 as an associate in Los Angeles, moved to New York in 1993 and had been based in the London office since making partner at the turn of the Millennium. He is synonymous with the hugely successful build-out of Latham’s London practice – which turned over an estimated $375m in 2018.

The firm has continued growing its City operations over the last few months, with a number of high-profile hires including Linklaters insurance partner Victoria Sander, Clifford Chance’s infrastructure head Brendan Moylan, Allen & Overy’s finance partner Conrad Andersen and Sidley Austin restructuring partner Yen Sum.

Latham became last year the first law firm to ever report revenue of over $3bn for its 2017 financial year, before being passed by Kirkland & Ellis as the highest grossing firm in the world. In 2018 Latham added another $323m to its top line to $3.386bn  but the gap with Kirkland increased as the rival turned over $3.76bn.

The only candidate based outside Latham’s US heartland in the race, Trobman saw off competition from seven other candidates from the firm’s DC, New York and Los Angeles offices to win the leadership race in March last year. While it was unusual for a US firm to elect two consecutive leaders based outside the US, Trobman said that his election was a ‘reflection of the fact that our partners have a global outlook and they believe in our global strategy’. The move announced today points to the fact that Latham’s global strategy is now focused on strengthening in the world’s largest and most competitive legal market.

Legal Business

Latham confirms death of Spain managing partner Juan Picón

Latham confirms death of Spain managing partner Juan Picón

Latham & Watkins’ Spain managing partner and former DLA Piper senior partner Juan Picón, one of his home country’s top commercial lawyers, has died of lymphoma cancer.

A post on Picón’s LinkedIn profile about a week ago mentioned a ‘new challenge’, referencing an article on Spanish business media El Confidencial talking about an ‘unforeseen health issue’ affecting Picón.

Latham chair and managing partner Rich Trobman said in a statement: ‘We mourn the passing of our extraordinary and dear friend and partner. Juan was a gifted lawyer, visionary leader, and incredibly thoughtful person who touched the lives of so many at the firm and throughout the profession.

‘He will be remembered for his generous spirit, boundless energy, selfless leadership, tremendous courage, and inner strength. A giant in so many ways, and an inspiration to all who knew him, he will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as we mourn the loss of a truly special individual. Our many fond memories of Juan will live on.’

In what was described as one of the most important management moves in the market over the last few years, Picón quit his role as DLA senior partner and co-chair less than two years into his term in November 2017 to join Latham. Speaking to Legal Business earlier that year, Picón mentioned his desire to spend more time in his native country: ‘Last year I spent 220 days outside Spain. Not a lot of time with the family. I am old enough now to know that I would do things differently if I started again and I try to convey that to the younger generation. You can be a successful lawyer and organise yourself in a different way.’

His long and highly respected career included spells at Clifford Chance and, between 1997 and 2006, at legacy Squire, Sanders & Dempsey.

Legal Business

Global Elite line up on Nestlé’s $10bn skincare business sale to EQT

Global Elite line up on Nestlé’s $10bn skincare business sale to EQT

Latham & Watkins is acting alongside US counterpart Kirkland & Ellis in advising EQT as the private equity house looks to acquire Nestlé’s skincare business, in what could be one of the largest transactions in Europe this year.

Nestlé, which is being advised by Linklaters corporate partners David Martin and Michael Honan, confirmed talks with EQT in May following a competitive auction process with rival buyout funds and industry players all eager to make the acquisition. The group of investors includes Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Legal Business

International round-up: Greenberg Traurig enters Italy through Milan merger as Latham goes big in Japan

International round-up: Greenberg Traurig enters Italy through Milan merger as Latham goes big in Japan

Greenberg Traurig is to open its fifth European office via the acquisition of a Milan boutique and the hire of two veterans from the Italian branch of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The US firm announced yesterday (16 May) that as of July the northern Italian city will become the location of its 40th office worldwide while its European lawyer headcount will hit 300.

It has merged with its 30-lawyer Italian ally of 14 years, Santa Maria Studio Legale and hired Freshfields Italy real estate head Marzio Longo and finance partner Corrado Angelelli. Luigi Santa Maria and Mario Santa Maria will serve as co-managing partners of the office, which will be known as Greenberg Traurig Santa Maria. Santa Maria Studio Legale was founded more than 50 years ago and operates in competition, litigation, M&A and finance. It signed an alliance with Greenberg in 2005.

Greenberg’s Milan launch follows London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Warsaw. Its relatively conservative European expansion has been unusual path US firms, usually more focused on the continent’s larger financial centres of Paris and Frankfurt.

Italy has traditionally been a complicated market for UK and US players, with their models hard to combine with a market largely dominated by a small group of veterans more inclined to run their own independent firms than take orders from abroad. However, relatively recent entrants including Latham & Watkins, Linklaters, White & Case and Dentons have built successful niches in the market.

‘This is a unique opportunity given our close relationship with Studio Santa Maria and its highly regarded place in the Italian market,’ said Greenberg executive chairman Richard Rosenbaum. ‘For more than 50 years, we have guarded our unified, collaborative, and non-bureaucratic culture as we have grown, maintaining our core values of excellence and sincere respect and trust of the individuals on the ground in all our locations. This unique combination has resulted in a broad and deep platform while retaining the feeling of empowerment and ability to change.’

Meanwhile, Latham has doubled the partner headcount of its Tokyo office. The firm has added corporate partners Ivan Smallwood, Noah Carr, and Stuart Beraha from the Japanese arm of Morrison & Foerster.

‘The Japanese market, with its sophisticated global needs, continues to be very important to our platform,’ said Latham chair and managing partner Rich Trobman. ‘Ivan, Noah, and Stuart are a cohesive team who will add momentum to an already powerful practice, serving leading multinationals to fast-growth startups across the Pacific Rim and around the world, spanning diverse industries from financial services to technology.’

Japanese M&A deals surged last year. Japanese companies were involved in 430 deals for a total value of $214bn in 2018, more than double the total for 2017 and the highest since records began in 1980, according to Mergermarket.

Legal Business

The head, the tail, the whole damn thing: UK firms suffer again as Global London sharks circle

The head, the tail, the whole damn thing: UK firms suffer again as Global London sharks circle

With recent financial results displaying the added bite of US firms in the City, it appears their approach to the lateral recruitment market will continue to be just as aggressive. Paul Hastings continued to signal its M&A ambitions with the hire of Steven Bryan from Hogan Lovells, while Latham & Watkins proved again it is one of the biggest predators of the City elite after hiring Linklaters insurance partner Victoria Sander.

For Paul Hastings, the hire of Bryan is of little surprise. The firm has made no secret of its ambition to strengthen in public M&A and private equity, as seen last spring with the hires of Roger Barron from Linklaters and private equity star Anu Balasubramanian from DLA Piper. The addition of Bryan, meanwhile, sees another highly-rated M&A practitioner leave for a US firm – an area widely considered the last bastion of the institutional City firms.

Legal Business

US firms strike in the City again as Latham hits Links and Paul Hastings taps Hogan Lovells

US firms strike in the City again as Latham hits Links and Paul Hastings taps Hogan Lovells

Latham & Watkins has once again hit the Magic Circle to expand beyond its traditional transactional heartlands in the City, recruiting Linklaters insurance partner Victoria Sander.

Paul Hastings has also made the latest in a series of London hires, with former Hogan Lovells M&A infrastructure and energy partner Steven Bryan starting at the US firm this week.

A Linklaters lifer, Sander started at the Silk Street firm in 1995. Mandates she acted on during more than two decades there include leading the team on Legal & General’s £1.1bn acquisition of the Vickers Group Pension Scheme.

She will join Latham at the end of next month. Her hire is the latest in a series of London acquisitions for the Los Angeles-bred giant, which at the beginning of the month reported an 11% revenue hike to $3.386bn in 2018.

In spring last year, Carl Fernandes made the switch from Linklaters to become the fourth regulatory partner to join Latham in less than two years.

Later last year Latham also targeted Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance to secure the services of two of the highest profile names in the City’s infrastructure private equity space, Conrad Andersen and Brendan Moylan.

However the firm suffered a rare loss at the beginning of 2019 as banking co-head Chris Kandel moved to Morrison & Foerster.

Meanwhile, Paul Hastings has continued its expansive trajectory of late. Bryan’s clients at Hogan Lovells included Brookfield, ENRC and Equinor.

Bryan, who is moving to Paul Hastings with two associates, told Legal Business: ‘I was impressed with the quality of the firm, the partners and previous lateral hires, particularly Roger [Barron] and Anu [Balasubramanian]. The platform has probably been under the wire in London but it’s a highly successful firm and has a very clear ambition. It’s not a huge firm so there is a lot of room for partners to be entrepreneurial. It is very focused on building a leading energy and infrastructure practice in London which I will help to lead, starting with the corporate capability and then moving across projects and finance.’

Paul Hastings went on a hiring spree in spring last year, tapping Linklaters for M&A heavyweight Barron and DLA Piper for private equity star Balasubramanian.

The US firm increased its London revenue 14% and global turnover 9% last year, while profit per equity partner broke the $3m mark, rising 12% to $3.25m.

Legal Business

‘Only the beginning’: Latham adds more than $300m to top line as Sidley nears £100m in the City

‘Only the beginning’: Latham adds more than $300m to top line as Sidley nears £100m in the City

A year after becoming the first law firm to break the $3bn barrier, Latham & Watkins has posted an even stronger set of financial results, growing revenue at a faster 11% rate to hit $3.386bn in 2018.

Meanwhile, Sidley Austin joined the growing number of US firms to report double-digit growth for their City operations in 2018, hiking London revenue 14% to £97.5m.

Latham announced today (1 March) it added $323m to its top line in 2018, momentarily becoming the highest grossing law firm in the world, as profits per equity partner (PEP) rose 6% to $3.45m. Revenue per lawyer rose 6% to $1.33m, as lawyer headcount rose 4% to 2,540. Last year revenue rose 9% to $3.06bn and PEP 6% to $3.24m.

Speaking to Legal Business, chair Richard Trobman hailed the firm’s tenth consecutive year of growth, which has seen $1.1bn added to its top line in the last six years alone.

‘2018 started strong and ended strong; we saw a consistent demand for our services throughout the year,’ said Trobman, pointing to ‘a fantastic year’ on the litigation front and adding that the value of M&A deals the firm acted on in 2018 was up 60% to $618bn. Mandates  included advising Carlyle on the €10bn acquisition of AkzoNobel’s specialty chemicals business, the largest European buyout in 2018, and Global Infrastructure Partners on the acquisition of the Italian railway operator Italo – Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori.

PEP grew at a slower pace last year, with the firm growing its equity partnership by 11 to 488 and its total partnership by 49 to 730. London outpaced the firm’s global revenue growth by several percentage points, although the firm did not disclose revenue for its City office. ‘London had a spectacular year,’ said Trobman. ‘It is a key part of our success and is going to be a core part of the Latham platform.’

The firm made 19 lateral hires in Europe in 2018. In London it added litigators Jon Holland and Andrea Monks from Hogan Lovells, restructuring partners Yen Sum and Jennifer Brennan from Sidley Austin, infrastructure partners Brendan Moylan and Conrad Andersen from Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy, as well as regulatory partner Carl Fernandez from Linklaters.

However, the year was not entirely positive. Chair Bill Voge resigned in March 2018 amid allegations of misconduct. Trobman was elected to replace him in June, seeing off competition from seven other candidates.

Trobman concluded: ‘We are really optimistic for the future, what we are seeing today is really only the beginning, we see ourselves pushing to even greater heights.’

Meanwhile, Sidley Austin’s City base also grew at a faster pace than the firm globally as it announced one of its best financial performances since the banking crisis, with firmwide revenue up 9% to $2.2bn from $2.04bn.

PEP at the Chicago-bred firm rose 13% to $2.55m, the highest growth in a decade as it shrunk its equity partnership by 2% to 334. Revenue per lawyer rose 5% to $1.14m, with the firm’s headcount growing 4% to 1,943.

Its London revenue rose 14% from £85.7m, a performance which London head Thomas Thesing described as reflecting ‘high levels of demand across all our service offerings. We saw some of our investment in transactional work pay off; strong demand in restructuring and regulatory.’

The City office, which has been building a private equity practice over the last three years since the recruitment of more than a dozen partners from Kirkland in 2016/17, saw some lateral movement  in 2018. It launched a London life sciences practice with the hire of Marie Manley from Bristows , but losses from its City base over the last few months included restructuring star Yen Sum and partner Jennifer Brennan to Latham, former London managing partner and finance co-head Matthew Dening to Baker McKenzie, litigation co-head Dorothy Cory-Wright to Dechert and M&A partner Mark Thompson to Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Eyes will now inevitably turn to Kirkland & Ellis, which will announce its 2018 financials soon, to see whether it has once again topped Latham and retained its position as the highest-grossing law firm in the world . Either way, these financials from Latham and Sidley are the latest in a number of results that point to a booming 2018 for several US firms, both globally and in the City.

Legal Business

Deal watch: Latham joins Freshfields and A&O on €5.7bn European buyout as Eversheds acts on €590m UK takeover

Deal watch: Latham joins Freshfields and A&O on €5.7bn European buyout as Eversheds acts on €590m UK takeover

Continental Europe provided rich pickings to the global legal elite this week, as Blackstone and Hellman & Friedman agreed to one of the largest ever takeovers of a German listed company by a private equity group.

It was a busy week for the UK market too, as Eversheds Sutherland joined Allen & Overy (A&O) on the €590m takeover of a British chemical business by a New York-listed company.

Latham & Watkins and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted for Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone as the two PE houses announced a bid to acquire German online business Scout24, which was advised by A&O.

The cash offer for the entirety of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange-listed company is €46 per share, valuing Scout24’s equity at €4.9bn and giving the company an enterprise value of €5.7bn.

London private equity partners David Walker and Huw Thomas led the Latham team advising on the M&A, debt and equity finance aspects of the deal. The team also saw two of Latham’s most recent hires from the Magic Circle feature: Düsseldorf corporate partners Nikolaos Paschos and Tobias Larisch. The former joined the US firm from Linklaters in August 2017, the latter from Freshfields in March last year.

Larisch’s former colleagues, Freshfields partners Stephan Waldhausen and Arend von Riegen, advised the bidders on M&A matters, while A&O’s Christian Eichner and Hans Diekman acted for Scout24.

Latham previously advised Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone on the acquisition of Scout24 in 2013, and then on the company’s listing in 2015.

‘This is a major deal for the European private equity market,’ Walker told Legal Business. ‘There is, of course, uncertainty about the impact of Brexit, and indeed the general economic climate, but there continues to be a very healthy appetite for high quality assets and this deal shows that.’

The offer is subject to a minimum acceptance threshold of 50% plus one share and was brought forward to Pulver BidCo, a holding company jointly controlled by the two private equity houses.

A&O was busy north of the channel too, as London corporate partner Stephen Lloyd led the team advising Swedish chemicals company Perstorp as it sold its UK chemicals division Capa to US rival Ingevity.

Eversheds corporate partner Nicola Brookes led the team advising New York Stock Exchange-listed Ingevity, while Swedish firm Mannheimer Swartling provided Sweden law advice to Perstorp.

‘The special thing about this deal for our client is that it is their first acquisition outside of the US,’ Brookes told Legal Business.

The deal comes at the end of a competitive process, with private equity house Cinven also showing interest towards the end of last year.

Brookes said that Brexit was something ‘we had to deal with in terms of due diligence. The parties discussed Brexit and how they would protect themselves given that their suppliers are based across Europe.’

Legal Business

London calling for Latham as it makes up nine partners in the City

London calling for Latham as it makes up nine partners in the City

Latham & Watkins has promoted 31 lawyers to partner across all five of its departments globally, with 29% of those getting the nod in London.

The promotion round, effective of January next year, sees a notable increase in associates making the cut in London, with just two being made up last year in the City. Globally the firm’s 31 promotions equal last year’s round, which saw New York receive the lion’s share of promotions.

While London outstripped New York this year, Manhattan still saw six associates make partner with corporate and tax being the primary beneficiaries. Overall, 21 lawyers were promoted across the firm’s US branches in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Houston.

Meanwhile, European promotions meanwhile dwindled from three last year to just one this year, with Max Hauser being minted in Frankfurt. There were also no promotions in Asia this time around, whereas two were made up last year.

The firm’s corporate and finance practices unsurprisingly made up the majority of the firm’s City promotions, with six and three associates being promoted in the practices respectively. Globally, 23 of the 31 promotions came in either corporate (14) or finance (nine).

Peter Gilhuly, chair of the firm’s associates committee, said progression at Latham is the culmination of a multi-year process that involves ongoing professional development, business planning, formal evaluations, and informal feedback. The committee, which comprises roughly half partners and half associates, recommends promotions to partner and counsel each year.

Full list of Latham London promotions:

Karan Chopra – Finance

Fritz Ernemann – Corporate

Fiona Maclean – Corporate

James McCrory – Corporate

Christian McDermott – Corporate

Angel Quek – Finance

Chirag Sanghrajka – Finance

Matthew Schneider – Corporate

Linzi Thomas – Corpoate