Legal Business

Dice falls in Linklaters’ favour as partner profits shoot up 10% and £100m added to top line

Dice falls in Linklaters’ favour as partner profits shoot up 10% and £100m added to top line

Linklaters has posted the strongest financial performance of its peer group with a 7% revenue uptick to £1.63bn and double-digit profit growth.

The results today (11 July) show profit per equity partner (PEP) at the Magic Circle law firm rose 10% to £1.7m in 2018/19 after being flat in a mixed 2017/18.

Linklaters added £108m to its top line in the year to 30 April 2019, while pre-tax profits rose 11% to £751.6m, compared to slower 2% growth to £676.2m the previous year.

‘The reason we had such a good year is we had fairly consistent levels of activity throughout the 12 months and throughout our regions,’ Linklaters managing partner Gideon Moore (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘It goes back to our culture, teamwork and remuneration arrangements with the lockstep partnership: clients appreciate the fact that we are able to deliver the best team to the deal rather than doing a deal from one office because it helps its bottom line.’

The strong financial showing came amid a relatively moderate headcount increase over the financial year, with the firm adding 60 lawyers to take its ranks to 2,780, while the number of equity partners rose by three to 443. Total partner numbers were up by four to 464.

Asked how the firm managed to improve its performance, Moore said: ‘It’s a reflection of the market and the way in which sometimes the dices fall: you can lose a big deal and it makes a big difference one year; it can go the other way another year but it does not mean that as a firm you were better or worse. You have to look at law firms and how they are doing financially over a longer period than one year.’

Since Moore took over as managing partner three years ago, Linklaters has grown revenue 24% from £1.31bn and PEP 17% from £1.45m.

The firm had a solid list of mandates to point to. Moore singled out the work advising Japanese giant Takeda Pharmaceutical on the £46bn takeover of Irish drug-maker Shire, which saw lawyers from several Linklaters offices in Asia, Europe and the US involved, and the $90bn merger of industrial gas group Linde and Praxair.

Linklaters also advised The Carlyle Group on the multibillion pound acquisition of a minority stake in Spanish energy company CEPSA and HSBC on the disposal of its $5.2bn Brazil business to Banco Bradesco.

Other highlights over the year saw the firm launch a joint operation office with 25-lawyer Shanghai firm Zhao Sheng in May 2018, an arrangement that Moore said enabled Linklaters to ‘recruit and retain very good lawyers’ that would have previously been barred from practising PRC law.

He also pointed to contract lawyering platform Re:Link, established in April to employ legal staff on an interim basis on specific projects: ‘We interview and on-board lawyers on the platform in the same way that we on-board them at the firm: if we would not accept you as a lawyer at Linklaters we will not accept you on the platform,’ Moore said.

On the lowlights front, Linklaters suffered its fair share of knocks from US rivals over the year. Private equity (PE) star Vincent Ponsonnaille quit alongside fellow corporate partner Laurent Victor-Michel to spearhead the launch of Kirkland & Ellis’ new Paris base. London insurance partner Victoria Sander and financial regulation partner Carl Fernandes both moved to Latham & Watkins, while corporate partner Roger Barron left for Paul Hastings.

Moore was bullish about the firm’s global PE offering, saying it ‘is the strongest that it’s ever been in terms of collegiality, client base and deals we are doing’.

The newly re-appointed managing partner was also optimistic about the outlook: ‘The economic headwinds that people have been talking about for 12 months are now beginning to blow, but I don’t think they are blowing particularly hard. Activity levels are generally a bit lower than they were last year, but not down as much as people had suggested they would be. We have such a diverse practice range and such a wide geographic spread that unless the markets are really calm we will be doing something somewhere.’

Linklaters’ PEP now tops that of Clifford Chance (CC) after the Magic Circle rival last week revealed an increase of just 1% in partner profits to £1.62m.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, meanwhile, grew PEP by 6% to £1.84m and revenue 5% to £1.472bn.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Linklaters digs down back of sofa to match rivals’ £100k associate pay packages

Linklaters digs down back of sofa to match rivals’ £100k associate pay packages

Linklaters has finished off the Magic Circle’s robust response to associate pay increases from US firms in London, raising its pay package for newly-qualified solicitors (NQs) to match its rivals.

The pay boost will see the total cash payable to NQs reach £100,000, including a salary and a discretionary bonus, while top performers will be set to receive more. The firm did not disclose the new base salary – or how it would increase for more senior associates – however the figure is a considerable rise from the £83,000 in basic pay Linklaters announced last year.

The firm was the final holdout among the Magic Circle, after Allen & Overy announced last week a pay increase of 20%, from £83,000 to £100,000, including a bonus. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was the first of the group to make a move in May, with the aim of keeping talent away from US rivals by boosting pay to £100,000 plus a discretionary bonus.

Despite the bellicose response from the Magic Circle, many US firms still comfortably exceed the pay figures. Kirkland & Ellis’ starting rate is £143,000 while Latham & Watkins offers City associates $190,000.

Outside of the Magic Circle, Macfarlanes announced today (1 July) a lucrative pay increase for its associate talent. NQs will see pay range from £98,000 to £110,250, comprising a basic salary of £85,000 and individual and firm wide bonuses, as the associate pay war ripples throughout the industry.

The pay rise also comes off the back of a 100% retention rate for trainees qualifying this September at Macfarlanes, with all 25 trainees opting to stay with the firm.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

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

Deal watch: City teams fly on £4.6bn Rolls-Royce pension deal as Kirkland and Goodwin take multi-billion dollar mandates

Deal watch: City teams fly on £4.6bn Rolls-Royce pension deal as Kirkland and Goodwin take multi-billion dollar mandates

Big-ticket deals have been fuelling the market in pensions, private equity and fundraising recently with UK top-10 firms and US rivals alike taking the controls on significant mandates.

Legal & General (L&G) handed a joint mandate to CMS and Eversheds Sutherland to advise on its £4.6bn buy-in to buy-out with the Rolls-Royce UK Pension Fund (RRPF), a deal which is billed as the UK’s largest ever bulk annuity and which saw Linklaters act for the trustees.

The pension risk transfer sees the insurer strike its fourth of the five largest deals of this kind in the UK, with the others being British Airways (£4.4bn), ICI (£3bn) and TRW (£2.5bn).

The Eversheds team advising L&G was led by corporate partner Hugo Laing and pensions partner Mark Latimour, alongside CMS partner Thomas Lockley. The Linklaters team was led by global head of pensions Claire Petheram and derivatives partner Mark Brown. The in-house legal team at L&G included Helena Hawthorn, Camilla Curtis and Hannah Kilshaw.

Laing, who also acted for L&G on its £2.4bn buy-out of the Nortel pension scheme and £1.1bn buy-out of the Vickers pension scheme, is optimistic about the market.

‘Volatility in the market can be a good thing for pension deals as it can favourably impact pricing. Insurers buying pension schemes has really boomed in the last few years and the deal values are getting bigger and bigger. The Rolls-Royce deal has shown how big the deals can get and I suspect there will be more of this size to come’, he told Legal Business.

Petheram told Legal Business that the transaction is part of a ‘huge trend’: ‘There is an awful lot of activity in buy-ins where insurers take responsibility for pension liabilities. There has been increased activity in the longevity swap area and that’s only going to ramp up further as corporates look to manage their pension liabilities proactively.’

She added: ‘Insurers represent a gold-standard covenant and there is a willingness on the side of corporates and trustees to lean into these deals. It represents an acceptable position. Trustees have a laser focus on the interests of their members and they can see that deals like this work.’

She expects to see an increase in the number of large-scale transactions over the next 12 months and more innovation in dealing with pension risks.

Kirlkland & Ellis’ City lawyers have also been busy, with the Chicago-bred juggernaut advising investment adviser and repeat customer GLP on the $18.7bn sale of its US logistics business to Blackstone. The firm the same week advised BC Partners-backed United Group on a €220m deal to acquire mobile operator Tele2 Croatia from Tele2 Group.

The GLP deal was co-led by Kirkland corporate partners Michael Steele in London and Michael Brueck in New York, with the team also including real estate partner Kevin Ehrhart in Los Angeles, investment funds partner Kelly Ryan in Chicago and tax partner Mike Beinus in New York.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advised long-standing client Blackstone out of New York with a team led by real estate partner Davis Coen.

The sale includes logistics properties owned across 3 separate GLP US funds and totals 179 million square feet of urban logistics assets, claiming to be the largest ever private real estate transaction in the States.

London corporate partner David D’Souza led the Kirkland team advising United Group, supported by David Higgins, debt finance partner Neel Sachdev, capital markets partner Matthew Merkle, technology & intellectual property transactions partner Jenny Wilson and tax partners Tim Lowe and Jan Hobbs. The team was also supported by local law firms Divjak Topic Bahtijarevic, Karanovic Partners and Setterwalls.

Tele2 was advised by Schoenherr through its offices in Austria and Croatia, having acted for Tele2 on a number of other disposals in the region. D’Souza said the acquisition will enable United Group to widen the services that it provides and its coverage across Europe.

Having crept largely unnoticed up Legal Business’ Global London table this year, Goodwin Procter’s City office has been making waves, announcing two major fundraisings in the same week.

The Boston-bred firm advised Glennmont Partners on the €850m closing of its Clean Energy Fund III to invest in clean energy infrastructure projects in Europe. The Goodwin team was led by London partners Michael Halford, Alexandrine Armstrong-Cerfontaine and Laura Charkin.

Although led out of New York by partners David Watson and James Donohue, Goodwin also advised Advent International on its $17.5bn fundraise for its ninth global private equity fund GPE IX Limited Partnership.

The fund surpassed its $16bn target after six months in the market while Advent’s previous global fund, GPE VIII, closed on $13bn 2016.Halford and Charkin also advised on the deal out of London.

Halford told Legal Business the Glennmont transaction was a sign of increased interest in renewable energy investments as indicated by the fund’s diversification of investors into the US and Asia. ‘The market is very active and this is a great time to be raising funds. We are expecting more funds activity over the summer.’

Watson said that Goodwin has acted for Advent since its formation in 1984 and has personally advised the private equity house since 1988. He notes an uptick of interest in the ventures space and a migration from its traditional heartlands of California and Boston over to New York.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Deal watch: Kirkland and Linklaters take care of Nestlé business as UK advisers get busy in Europe

Deal watch: Kirkland and Linklaters take care of Nestlé business as UK advisers get busy in Europe

International investors have been keeping UK and US counsel busy this week, with Linklaters and Kirkland & Ellis winning roles on Nestlé’s proposed $10bn sale of its skincare business.

Eversheds Sutherland, Pinsent Masons and Ashurst, meanwhile, were all in action as Japan’s largest housebuilder, Sekisui House, entered the UK market, and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) advised Spanish company Cellnex in a multibillion-euro series of acquisitions on the continent.

Kirkland’s private equity partner Roger Johnson is advising longstanding client EQT as the private equity house confirmed it is partnering with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board to acquire Nestlé Skin Health for $10.1bn.

Linklaters’ corporate partners David Martin and Michael Honan are acting for Nestlé as the Swiss group enters exclusive negotiations for what could be one of the largest transactions in Europe this year.

Latham & Watkins is advising EQT on the financing, led by London partners Dominic Newcomb and Jennifer Engelhardt.

Founded in 1981 as Galderma and operating as a subsidiary of Nestlé since 2014, the Lausanne-headquartered skincare company employs more than 5,000 people across 40 countries. According to EQT’s plans, the company will take back its original name and keep its headquarters in Switzerland while focusing on international expansion, particularly in the US.

Elsewhere, Eversheds corporate partner Alistair Cree led a team advising regeneration company Urban Splash as it signed a £90m joint venture with Homes England and Sekisui House. The deal marks the entrance of the Japanese housebuilding giant into the UK with a view to deliver thousands of homes across the country. Pinsents partner Scot Morrison led the team advising the government body, while Ashurst’s Hiroyuki Iwamura acted for Sekisui.

‘Sekisui is the world’s largest housebuilder, it has the balance sheet of all the UK housebuilders combined,’ Cree told Legal Business. ‘The plan of the joint venture is to invest and develop the modular housing model, where houses are built off-site, and roll it out across England – in this way houses can be built much more quickly.’

He added: ‘It’s a real vindication of the Urban Splash business, because you’ve got someone with a real reputation investing into a business that is based in the North West of England.’

Outside the UK there were rich pickings for HSF, as a team led by Paris corporate partner Edouard Thomas advised Spanish telecom infrastructure company Cellnex on its €2.7bn acquisitions in France, Italy and Switzerland.

Cellnex agreed to acquire a series of mobile towers in France and Italy from telecom company Iliad, for €1.4bn and €600m respectively, while in Switzerland it acquired communication sites from Salt.

Alongside HSF, the deals involved Paul Hastings, which advised Salt in Switzerland led by London corporate partner Garrett Hayes, and a number of independent firms across the continent.

French champion Bredin Prat advised Iliad in France and Italy, Italian firm BonelliErede acted for Cellnex on Italian law aspects, and Bär & Karrer advised Cellnex in Switzerland.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Flexi lawyering on the up as Linklaters launches Peerpoint-style platform and LOD makes Australasian acquisition

Flexi lawyering on the up as Linklaters launches Peerpoint-style platform and LOD makes Australasian acquisition

Linklaters has become the latest firm to venture into the ever busier flexible lawyering market after hiring the former director of Ashurst’s innovation arm to lead its new contract lawyer platform.

New Law pioneer Lawyers on Demand (LOD), meanwhile, has expanded its Australasian footprint with the acquisition of legal ops and tech platform lexvoco.

Linklaters announced today (30 April) the launch of Re:link, allowing the firm to employ lawyers on an interim basis to work on specific projects. Mark Higgs, who led Ashurst Advance for three years until 2018, has joined Linklaters’ London base as chief operating officer of the new contract lawyer platform.

Re:link will initially focus on the UK market but the firm envisages exploring other geographies in the near future.

‘We are looking to draw extensively on our alumni to build up our lawyer community and connect them with opportunities to work with both our clients and lawyers,’ Higgs told Legal Business.

He would not specify the number of lawyers the service will make available, but said it will be open to all practice areas: ‘There are clearly clients that have been strong users of contract lawyers in recent years – financial institutions is the obvious example – but we see this as cross-practice.’

Linklaters is the second Magic Circle firm to launch a flexi lawyering arm. Allen & Overy launched in 2013 Peerpoint, which now fields around 300 lawyers available on an interim basis and operates in the UK and Asia.

In distinction from Peerpoint and other flexible lawyering services, Re:link will operate as part of Linklaters rather than as a separate business. Higgs said there was a focus on making sure that ‘everyone that joins Re:link is fully part of the firm and takes advantage of the infrastructure the firm can offer.’

He added: ‘I have been speaking with Gideon [Moore, managing partner] and members of the board throughout 2018 as they shaped their idea. To join a firm like Linklaters to launch and lead a new area was a one-off opportunity.’

Also today, contract lawyer business LOD announced the addition of 100 lawyers in Australia and New Zealand and 30 members of staff after it acquired lexvoco, a platform which focuses on providing legal operations and legal-tech solutions to in-house teams. The additions bring LOD’s Australasian lawyer headcount to 300.

The deal means the lexvoco team will join LOD in their combined offices of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, while adding Adelaide and Geelong, as well as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in New Zealand to the New Law outfit’s global network.

The legal ops and tech functions of lexvoco will form LOD Innovate, a new Asia Pacific-based business unit led by lexvoco founder Anthony Wright.

The Australasian expansion comes a year after LOD secured new private equity backers in place of parent firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP). Buyout house Bowmark Capital acquired in May last year BCLP’s entire stake of 62% in LOD.

LOD chief executive Tom Hartley said: ‘Following our capital investment from Bowmark, this deal gives us greater scale in our core business and increased capability in the legal operations and tech space that our clients are demanding in all of our locations.’

Launched in 2007 as part of legacy Berwin Leighton Paisner, LOD first entered Australia in 2016 through a merger with AdventBalance.

The deal is a further sign of consolidation among New Law players. Elevate acquired in January UK-based flexible lawyer firm Halebury, creating a combined business of over 1,000 members of staff and $70m in annual revenue.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Immensely rewarding’: Moore gets second term as Linklaters managing partner

‘Immensely rewarding’: Moore gets second term as Linklaters managing partner

Linklaters managing partner Gideon Moore will stay in his role until April 2022 after the partnership re-elected him for a second term.

Partners confirmed the former banking head in the role during a two-day annual partnership meeting in Cannes after he stood unopposed. However, his second term will be shorter to bring the managing partner and senior partner terms in sync. Senior partner Charlie Jacobs’ first term finishes at the end of 2021.

Moore replaced Simon Davies as managing partner in January 2016  after seeing off competition from dispute resolution head Michael Bennett and Asia managing partner Marc Harvey. That election was triggered early due to Davies’ surprise decision to join Lloyds Banking Group in early 2016. During his first term he implemented a ‘refreshed strategy’, which saw the firm drop individual partner metrics and annual assessments to focus on team and firmwide performance.

Moore also pushed through lockstep reforms providing more flexibility in moving partners on the equity ladder, introducing a gate at the eighth year of progression and regular reviews for partners who have reached the top of equity.

The firm’s most recent set of financial results were muted, as revenue grew 6% to pass the £1.5bn mark but profits remained flat.

Commenting on his re-appointment, Moore said in a statement: ‘I am honoured to have the opportunity and privilege to continue leading Linklaters. The last few years have been immensely rewarding and my job now will be to continue creating the best conditions for the firm to excel: delivering best-in-class client experience; investing appropriately to manage our business ever more efficiently and innovatively; and ensuring Linklaters is a place where our people can perform to their best and thrive in their careers.’

marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Freshfields joins Slaughters in fight for UK plastics plc as Apax returns to Links Paris team

Dealwatch: Freshfields joins Slaughters in fight for UK plastics plc as Apax returns to Links Paris team

It has been a busy few days for the Magic Circle, as US company Berry Global trumped an offer by Apollo to secure UK plastics group RPC for £3.34bn while Apax sold its business schools to Cinven for €800m.

Corporate head Andy Ryde and partner Paul Mudie have been leading the Slaughter and May team advising the London-listed company as its board approved last Friday (8 March) the offer from the American packaging group.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Piers Prichard Jones and Alison Smith acted for Berry. The New York-listed manufacturer trounced a previous £3.3bn bid by Apollo, leaving the private equity house definitively out of the game.

‘The first offer from Apollo was expressed as a final offer and there were no caveats,’ Ryde told Legal Business. ‘And if you make a final offer with no reservation on a UK public takeover you are not allowed to bid again.’

A Sullivan & Cromwell team led by Ben Perry acted as lead adviser to Apollo on the UK takeover elements of the deal when its bid was initially recommended by RPC’s board on 23 January, with Paull Weiss London-based M&A partner David Lakhdhir providing additional advice to that firm’s core client in the US.

‘It’s very interesting that Berry made their competing offer on Friday, the week before the meaningful vote in Parliament on Brexit,’ added Ryde. ‘It suggests that Berry are fairly relaxed about Brexit. It is a positive sign for the UK that they were prepared to do that.’

The possibility of further bids is not ruled out but considered very unlikely. Berry’s offer will need the backing of 75% of shareholders in a meeting to be called shortly. Closing is expected in the third quarter of the year.

Freshfields saw its French team busy too, as Paris corporate partner Alan Mason led the team advising Cinven in its €800m acquisition of private higher education group Inseec, announced on Monday (11 March).

Linklaters advised seller Apax, led by Paris corporate partner Fabrice de La Morandière.

The Silk Street firm previously advised the UK private equity house when it acquired Inseec from Career Education in December 2013 for €200m.

The group has since grown to a collection of schools in Europe, the USA and China enrolling more than 25,000 students.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Linklaters to hit 20% female partnership as women make up a third of 33-strong promotion round

Linklaters to hit 20% female partnership as women make up a third of 33-strong promotion round

For the sixth year in a row Linklaters has increased the size of its promotion round, adding 33 lawyers to its partnership.

Eleven of the new partners announced today (11 March) and effective from May are women, surpassing the firm’s 30% annual target and meaning its overall partnership will be 20% female for the first time.

Managing partner Gideon Moore told Legal Business that the result was a validation of the changes the firm was driving through the partnership in terms of diversity and inclusion: ‘We are heading in the direction we wish to, bearing in mind where we started from and the way the partnership evolved. I won’t be satisfied until it’s 50-50.’

As in last year’s 27-strong round, the firm’s corporate practice had the largest intake of partners globally, with nine promoted. Capital markets was second at six, twice as many as last year. Banking saw five lawyers promoted while disputes had three.

‘All of the promotions are client-led,’ said Moore. ‘We don’t start off by saying we will only have a certain number. We look at the quality of the individual and the practice.’

London promotions also increased on last year, with 11 minted compared to ten in 2018.

City-based Charles Turner, Derek Tong and Tom Thorne got the nod in the corporate practice; Matthew Harding and Thomas Waller in banking; Chris Stevenson in disputes and Thomas Quoroll in capital markets. Sinead Casey, John Sheppard, Rahul Manvatkar and Ross Schloeffel were also added to the partnership in employment, pensions, investment funds and projects respectively.

Continental Europe replaced Asia in second place this year, as ten lawyers were promoted on the continent and eight in the firm’s Asian offices.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk

Linklaters partner promotions in full:

Christoph Barth, Competition/Antitrust, Dusseldorf

Sinead Casey, Employment, London

Gabriel Silva, Mainstream Corporate, São Paulo

Karen Phang, Mainstream Corporate, Jakarta

Robert Elliot, Mainstream Corporate, Singapore

Claudia Schneider, Mainstream Corporate, Frankfurt

Thomas Broichhausen, Mainstream Corporate, Munich

Charles Turner, Mainstream Corporate, London

Derek Tong, Mainstream Corporate, London

Tom Thorne, Mainstream Corporate, London

Carmen Burgos, Mainstream Corporate, Madrid

John Sheppard, Pensions, London

Alejandro Meca, Tax, Madrid

Adrian Fisher, TMT IP, Singapore

Omar El Sayed, Banking/Corporate, Middle East

Sabine Vorwerk, Banking, Frankfurt

Matthew Harding, Banking, London

Thomas Waller, Banking, London

Jonathan Ching, Banking, New York

Karen Lam, Capital Markets, Hong Kong

Sherry (Jiwei) Cui, Capital Markets, Hong Kong

Kenneth Lam, Capital Markets, Tokyo

Thomas Quoroll, Capital Markets, London

Simon Few, Capital Markets, EMEA

Ugo Orsini, Capital Markets, Milan

Peiying Chua, Financial Regulation, Singapore

Rahul Manvatkar, Investment Funds, London

Crystal Chen, Projects, Hong Kong

Ross Schloeffel, Projects, London

Adolfo Guerrero, Real Estate, Madrid

Brenda DiLuigi, Dispute Resolution, New York

Kerstin Wilhelm, Dispute Resolution, Munich

Chris Stevenson, Dispute Resolution, London

Legal Business

Magic Circle leads tech foray as Slaughters unveils tech incubator and Linklaters and A&O back Nivaura in $20m funding round

Magic Circle leads tech foray as Slaughters unveils tech incubator and Linklaters and A&O back Nivaura in $20m funding round

Slaughter and May has announced today (27 February) its much-anticipated legal tech incubator, Slaughter and May Collaborate, with the firm primed to select about six legal tech companies for its first cohort.

Magic Circle counterparts Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters, meanwhile, have both featured in fintech company Nivaura’s $20m funding round as the City elite bustle to achieve a technological advantage.

Collaborate is the first tech incubator at Slaughters with an exclusively legal focus, following the firm’s fintech effort, Fast Forward. The incubator will use a cohort model that will expose participants to clients and lawyers within the firm.

Collaborate will also feature an advisory panel of the firm’s top blue-chip clients, with GlaxoSmithKline, John Lewis Partnership, Santander, Standard Chartered and Vodafone all providing feedback on their technological needs. The programme will not include permanent office space or look to take equity in applicants.

Slaughters’ head of innovation Jane Stewart (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘We spoke to a lot of tech companies who had participated in existing incubators to get an idea of what they wanted out of it, we really wanted to find out what was practically useful. One surprising thing that came out of that was companies don’t consider office space something of high importance.’

Part of the offering from Slaughters will include two mentors assigned to each Collaborate member, one coming from the innovation team and another a practicing lawyer relevant to the company’s business. Applications are open until 27 March, with the firm hoping to get the programme underway in April.

Collaborate is mostly aimed at early and mid-stage ventures rather than established businesses, but applications are open to all stages of maturity.

Steward added: ‘Already we have had a very established company express interest.’

Elsewhere, Linklaters and A&O both featured in a funding round for leading fintech prospect Nivaura, a longstanding participant in A&O’s Fuse tech incubator. The funding round raised $20m for the start-up, and was led by the London Stock Exchange Group.

For Linklaters, the investment marks a first for the firm, having never before taken equity in a technology start-up. A&O, meanwhile, has a longer relationship with Nivaura, with the firm investing approximately £100,000 in the company prior to Nivaura entering A&O’s tech incubator Fuse. The latest funding round has seen the firm increase its equity in the company, but the stake remains a small percentage of Nivaura’s overall shareholding.

‘They have a unique proposition,’ A&O debt capital markets partner Philip Smith told Legal Business. ‘They have granulised the various steps involved in a capital markets transaction, from the inception to the finalisation. There are other companies we are working with and we have considerable interest in investing with the model we have developed alongside Nivaura.’

Founded three years ago, Nivaura focuses on the deployment of digital investment banking platforms for banks. Compared to the fledging legal tech scene, fintech remains a more mature and sophisticated market, with Nivaura now set to rapidly expand its leadership, business development and technical teams to focus on large-scale projects throughout 2019.

‘The investment gives us an opportunity to help Nivaura,’ Linklaters capital markets partner Richard Levy told Legal Business. ‘It also gives us the opportunity to be at the centre of innovation. We look at start-ups in different ways and would consider future investments as part of a wider collaboration with a company.’

The funding round also saw US law firm Orrick, Santander InnoVentures and Transamerica Ventures invest, and is the latest influx of capital into the space after Slaughters stepped up earlier this month to help AI company Luminance secure a further $10m of funding, giving the company a valuation of $100m.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk