Legal Business

‘No crown jewels’ but firms rally with coronavirus advice to steer clients through crisis

‘No crown jewels’ but firms rally with coronavirus advice to steer clients through crisis

As cases of the coronavirus accelerate, law firms including Mayer Brown, Eversheds Sutherland, Allen & Overy (A&O), Mishcon de Reya, Hogan Lovells and Fieldfisher have established COVID-19 working groups to help clients.

The moves come after swathes of firms ordered employees to work from home in the City and around the world in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease, which has so far racked up 244,553 confirmed cases globally and claimed 10,031 lives. Cases in the UK have ratcheted up at an alarming rate, with 2,716 cases and 137 deaths reported at the time of writing, with the UK government poised imminently to impose a lockdown to stem the spread.

Mayer Brown has set up a global response team spearheaded by the management committee and office managing partners and launched a COVID-19 web portal and blog to provide answers to frequently emerging questions from clients. Tools include a global travel navigator facility with a heat map of regions affected and various restrictions there.

Speaking to Legal Business, Sally Davies (pictured), Mayer Brown’s London managing partner, said: ‘There has been so much information coming out on coronavirus and we have been sending multiple alerts out to clients. We wanted to consolidate everything in one place and make it easy to navigate.’

Davies said the response was largely crisis management and advisory at this stage, and expects further down the line client questions will turn to recovering money from the government as well as restructurings. The management committee and office managing partners are having daily calls on the coronavirus and have established and email group and WhatsApp group to quickly share knowledge and information.

‘There are questions over what a complete lockdown might mean. Can buildings and businesses be accessed at all? Can contracts be terminated or put on hold? What do the provisions which deal with force majeure and epidemics mean? Who pays for the delays and losses? As well as advice on business rates for large empty offices and employment issues around home working.

Eversheds has augmented its existing firm-wide working group with a global working group to deal with any litigation-related client requests around the coronavirus.

The group includes 13 partners: Jessica Neuberger (UK), Greg Falkof (Paris), Matthew Taylor (UK), Simon Brooks (UK), Paul Taylor (UAE), Michael Bahar (Washington DC), Meghana Shah (New York), Matt Gatewood (Washington DC), Tim Hill (UK), Mark Yeadon (Hong Kong), Joos Hellert (Germany), Yuri Wehrmeijer (Netherlands) and Remi Kleiman (Paris).

Paul Worth, co-head of global litigation, told Legal Business: ‘The global working party was set up to ensure a consistent approach. Just in the UK we have 600 people and 500 lawyers in my group so we wanted to make sure there weren’t hundreds of slightly nuanced responses to, for example, questions around force majeure. We wanted to ensure a joined up approach to make sure we had a clear understanding of client needs.’

Worth says that the firm is using webinars to tackle questions on M&A, real estate litigation, contract termination and force majeure: ‘We are not giving away the crown jewels but are offering high-level advice to clients.’

Worth added that that the firm was producing a global guide to force majeure across 40 jurisdictions to respond to the single biggest issue lawyers are being asked about, taking just a fortnight to produce where it normally can take months.

Worth draws parallels with the foot and mouth disease crisis of 2001 in terms of the types of issues that will likely emerge. ‘We advised the government on many millions of pounds of contract disputes connected with foot and mouth. I expect the coronavirus could lead to disputes around the allocation of government funds and resources. What clients need now is different from what they will need in six months’ time when the impact on global economies will automatically create opportunities for disputes.’

Elsewhere, Fieldfisher has responded with a one-stop-shop to offer commercial, employment, corporate and disputes advice in one place.

Ranjit Dhindsa, head of employment at Fieldfisher, told Legal Business: ‘The hub has expanded into having all the different advice you may need in one place. It has employment lawyers, commercial contract advice, litigation advice, insolvency lawyers, if your business can’t survive. What we have done is forget about expertise in isolation. When a board is in crisis you want the whole picture.’

Latham & Watkins has similarly established a task force, A&O a working group, Mischcon a cross-firm COVID-19 team, Hogan Lovells a hub to assess the potential impacts as well as multiple tools covering areas such as supply chain disruption, and Cooley a coronavirus resource hub to provide clients with advice on the pandemic.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Milbank’s City revenue outstrips global growth as Mayer Brown nears $1.5bn global turnover

Milbank’s City revenue outstrips global growth as Mayer Brown nears $1.5bn global turnover

London outpaced global growth at Milbank following a quieter year for standout laterals, as US outfits continue to post impressive results in the City.

Milbank’s London revenue reached $171.2m in the last financial year, an increase of 10% on $156m in 2018.

Globally, turnover was up a more subdued 3.4% to $1.069bn while firmwide profit per equity partner (PEP) increased 1.3% to $3.9m.

The figures show a comparative slowdown for the firm following a strong spell. Last year Milbank passed the $1bn mark following 13% growth globally as City revenue hiked an eye-catching 25%, driven in part by the arrival of new teams in London. Over the last five years, Milbank has upped City revenue an impressive 55%.

‘In terms of revenue, being up 10% is an exceptionally strong showing from our team,’ Milbank’s co-managing partner of London Julian Stait (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘The previous year we grew 25% and part of that was us adding a restructuring team from Cadwalader and a capital markets team from Shearman & Sterling, both of which significantly impacted headcount and revenue.’

Over the last two years at Milbank, headcount has grown 37%, with leveraged finance, capital markets, financial restructuring and litigation being the primary beneficiaries. During 2019/20, the firm has added five partners with Lisa O’Neill, Mona Vaswani, Sarbajeet Nag, William Charles and Miko Bradford all joining the firm’s City bench.

Looking ahead, the firm is sanguine about 2020: ‘From a transactional perspective we remain very bullish,’ Suhrud Mehta, Milbank’s co-managing partner in London told Legal Business. ‘The practice is very European and international and the reach of the firm in terms of clients we have access to is still hugely under-exploited.’

‘We’ve had a number of years of exceptional performance,’ Stait added. ‘The London office is a key driver of success at the firm and the firm will continue to invest in the London office.’

Meanwhile, US counterpart Mayer Brown also revealed its financial results, with global revenue increasing 7%, bringing it just shy of the $1.5bn mark. The Chicago-based outfit saw similar growth in its PEP figure, which was up 6% to $1.8m. The firm also started the year strongly in the City lateral market, luring energy partner Kirsti Massie from White & Case following a decade at the firm.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Weil and Mayer Brown scoop leads on Nestlé’s $4bn US ice cream business sale

Dealwatch: Weil and Mayer Brown scoop leads on Nestlé’s $4bn US ice cream business sale

Weil Gotshal & Manges and Mayer Brown have advised on the sale of Nestlé’s US ice cream business to Froneri for $4bn.

Froneri is an ice cream focused joint venture by Nestlé and PAI Partners created in 2016. The deal means that brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Edy’s, Drumstick and Dreyer’s will join its portfolio which already includes Movenpick, Green & Blacks and Cadbury’s ice cream.

Weil advised Froneri with a team led by London private equity partner Jonathan Wood and Boston private equity partner Matthew Goulding. The team also included London managing partner Michael Francis, head of the firm’s London technology and IP transactions practice Barry Fishley and London banking partner Tom Richards.

Mayer Brown advised Nestle with a team led out of the US by partners David Carpenter, John Boelter and Michelle Gross.

Carpenter told Legal Business: ‘Nestlé has already contributed to the ice cream business in different parts of the world through this joint venture. The buyer is actually 50% owned by Nestlé and so it’s moving the ice cream business into a company that has a private equity partner. It will be focused on ice cream rather than being part of a big conglomerate.’

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised private equity firm CVC Capital Partners on the acquisition of a stake in WebPros Group by CVC Fund VII from Oakley Capital Private Equity and other investors.

WebPros is a web hosting automation software provider for server management and includes web hosting platforms cPanel and Plesk and web hosting management and billing software WHMCS.

The Freshfields team was led by global co-head of financial sponsors Charles Hayes, co-head of European leveraged finance Alex Mitchell and corporate and M&A lawyer Vincent Bergin.

Kirkland & Ellis advised Oakley Capital on the sale led by London corporate partners Rory Mullarkey and Jacob Traff as well as Ben Leyendeckerin Munich.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Elsewhere, White & Case advised on the $25.6bn IPO of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), making it the world’s largest IPO. The company began trading on the Saudi Arabian Tadawul Stock Exchange on Wednesday 11 December under TADAWUL: ARAMCO.

The offering included subscriptions from institutions and individuals, comprising of SAR 446bn ($119bn). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sold 3bn shares of Saudi Aramco which accounted for 1.5% Saudi Aramco’s share capital.

The White & Case team was led by Dubai partner Sami Al-Louzi and included London partners Inigo Esteve, capital markets partner Alexander Underwood, Ronan O’Reilly and employment compensation and benefits lawyer Jack Gardener. The Law Office of Megren Al-Shaalan also advised Aramco with a team led by Megren Al-Shaalan and Doug Peel and included London capital markets partner Ibrahim Soumrany.

The $1.7trn valuation makes Saudi Aramco the largest company by market capitalisation. Over 400 White & Case lawyers from around 20 offices advised Saudi Aramco on the transaction.

Latham & Watkins advised the underwriters of Saudi Aramco on non-Saudi law matters. The team was led by New York partners Marc Jaffe and Ian Schuman and included London partner Craig Nethercott. London partners James Inness and Jeremy Green offered advice on corporate matters, Chirag Sanghrajka advised on finance, Rob Moulton advised on regulatory matters while Karl Mah advised on tax.

Prior to the listing, the largest IPO spot was held by Alibaba Group Holding Limited which listed in September 2014 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for $21.8bn.

Finally, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton advised Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) on the $450m acquisition of a 25.1% stake in Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) from Adani Transmission Limited as well as a shareholder subordinated debt investment by QIA in AEML.

AEML is part of Adani Group, an integrated business conglomerate based in India which includes six publicly traded companies, focusing on resources, logistics, energy and agriculture.

The Cleary team was led by London partners Tihir Sarkar and Nallini Puri.

Puri told Legal Business: ‘QIA is a very big investor to be partnering with. The Adani Group is a big group with lots of diversified interests and historically they’ve engaged in a lot of acquisitions, particularly within India. India’s done less with foreign investors. In some ways this is a very significant partnership for them because they’ve tied up with a very high profile investor.’

AEMl was advised by Indian firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas led by partners from the Mumbai office.

The deal is expected to close in early 2020 subject to customary conditions and regulatory approval.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Mayer Brown makes up three in the City in 27-strong global partner promotion round

Mayer Brown makes up three in the City in 27-strong global partner promotion round

Mayer Brown has promoted three lawyers to partner in London in a scaled back round that saw 27 partners minted globally.

The firm has been more conservative in its promotions across the board than last year, when it promoted four in London as part of a round that saw 34 made partner globally. As with last year’s round, Mayer Brown managed only one female partner promotion in the City.

Effective from 1 January 2020, the new London partners are Miriam Bruce (employment and benefits), Tim Shepherd (litigation and dispute resolution) and Charles Thain (banking and finance).

Mayer Brown London managing partner Sally Davies told Legal Business: ‘A lot of firms seem to be contracting in London but that is certainly not our intention. The difference between three and four partners in London was more of a timing thing. It was not as big a cohort as last year, however, three was the right number for us. We are still looking to expand our London office as part of the firm’s focus on London, New York and Hong Kong. We have hired several laterals and there are more in the pipeline.’

Davies is also hopeful of a higher percentage of women in next year’s promotions: ‘We expect to see more female partners next year. There is a great crop of female lawyers in the pipeline. Globally our percentages are healthy but we could still do better.’

The lion’s share of the promotions were in the US, with four new partners in Chicago, three in New York and three full-time partners in Washington DC, with a further DC partner splitting their time with Beijing.

Others were promoted in Hong Kong, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, California, Charlotte and Los Angeles. In Europe, London again outstripped Paris, where only two lawyers were promoted to partner, matching last year’s investment.

Mayer Brown’s London partner promotions:

Miriam Bruce, employment and benefits
Tim Shepherd, litigation and dispute resolution
Charles Thain, banking and finance

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: US and UK outfits line up on Jack Wills sale, BT fleet group buy-out and Majestic Wine

Dealwatch: US and UK outfits line up on Jack Wills sale, BT fleet group buy-out and Majestic Wine

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, RPC, Mayer Brown and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner were among the firms to enjoy a pre-summer deal rush this week as Sports Direct bought Jack Wills and private equity player Aurelius acquired BT’s fleet business.

Fried Frank advised high street clothing retailer Jack Wills on the buy-out of its UK businesses with a team led by restructuring and insolvency partner Ashley Katz and including corporate partner Dan Oates, finance partner Neil Caddy, real estate partner Patrick Williams and restructuring and insolvency partner Gary Kaplan.

The deal was the result of a restructuring and pre-packaged administration after Jack Wills fell into administration on Monday (August 5) and a team of KPMG administrators led by partners Will Wright and Chris Pole was appointed.

The £12.75m acquisition by Sports Direct includes acquiring stock, a distribution centre and 100 stores across the UK and Ireland. Owner Mike Ashley agreed to the takeover after winning the bid against Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group owner Philip Day. Last year House of Fraser was acquired in a similar pre-packaged administration deal by Sports Direct for £90m when it out-bid Philip Day.

Sports Direct is a long-standing client of RPC which advised on the takeover.

A Mayer Brown team led by Perry Yam advised Aurelius Equity Opportunities, the equity investment entity of Aurelius Group, on the acquisition of commercial fleet management operator BT Fleet Solutions from BT Group Plc.

Mayer Brown and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner worked on the transitional arrangements which will ensure that the carve-out from BT is successful, as well as the long-term outsourcing agreement between BT Group and BT Fleet Solutions. BT Fleet Solutions will continue to manage BT’s vehicle fleet nationally after the acquisition.

Co-leader of the global corporate & securities practice and private equity partner Perry Yam told Legal Business, ‘It’s an exciting opportunity for Auerelius to take on a non-core asset from BT and to retain BT as a customer.’

The BCLP team led by BT relationship partner Marcus Pearl and M&A partner Ben Lee advised BT Group.

Pearl, told Legal Business: ‘BT is seeking to focus more and more on investing in the best fixed and mobile networks in the UK and therefore the divestment of this non-core part of BT Group is very much part of its ongoing commitment to the core of its strategy.’

BCLP is a prominent member of BT’s panel and advises both BT and Openreach on strategic M&A, outsourcing, regulatory investigations and litigation and competition matters.

Meanwhile Allen & Overy and Hogan Lovells advised as Majestic Wine Plc agreed to sell its retail and commercial businesses to investment manager Fortress Investment Group.

The deal will see Fortress, which is owned by SoftBank, pay £95m for the businesses, which will continue to trade under the Majestic name.  The deal is subject to European Commission antitrust clearance and Majestic shareholder approval. It is part of Majestic’s plan to focus on driving growth in its Naked Wines business.

The A&O team was led by corporate M&A partner Seth Jones with partners Alasdair Balfour and Nigel Parker advising on antitrust and commercial matters respectively. Tom Whelan, Hogan Lovells’ global head of private equity, advised Fortress on the deal.

Corporate partner Seth Jones told Legal Business ‘It’s a sector that is seeing rapidly changing consumer behaviour which is driving some of the deal activity we are seeing. 2019 has also seen an increase in private equity capital being deployed both in private M&A but also public takeovers.  We’ve really seen private equity go after UK listed companies and deploy the capital that they’ve raised over the last few years and that’s really the stand-out trend for the first half of the year in the UK.’

Finally, Shoomiths is advising Malvern Group administrators KPMG following the announcement of the Group’s collapse last week (July 31). The corporate restructuring and advisory team is led by partner Sarah Teal and headed up nationally by James Keates. Malvern Group owns holiday brands Late Rooms and Super Break.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Life during law: Dominic Griffiths

Life during law: Dominic Griffiths

I didn’t plan a career in law. At school I did those career survey things twice and on both occasions it said I should become a fashion designer.

I have been a bar manager in a country house hotel and then a golf club bar. Great fun. Taught me the concept of keeping people in the line happy. I always say to junior lawyers: ‘Make sure you respond quickly to clients.’ It doesn’t mean you produce all the work in half an hour, as long as they know someone is looking after them.

Legal Business

Mayer Brown’s global revenue nears $1.4bn as PEP spikes 8.2% amid expansive year

Mayer Brown’s global revenue nears $1.4bn as PEP spikes 8.2% amid expansive year

Chicago-bred Mayer Brown saw its global revenue rise 5.8% to $1.38bn as profit per equity partner (PEP) hiked 8.2% to hit $1.7m in 2018.

The growth rate is up from last year, when the firm increased its top line 4.2% to $1.31bn globally. However PEP growth slowed slightly, having grown 8.8% in 2017. Revenue per lawyer saw a 5.9% uptick to $885,000, an improvement on last year’s 5.3% figure.

The results make for a welcome long term picture for Mayer Brown, with the firm enjoying 50% growth in net income since 2012. In 2018, net income hit $466.5m, up 7.3% from 2017. The favourable revenue comes off the back of expansion for the firm, having doubled its size in New York during the reporting period.

Meanwhile Mayer Brown made 50 partner hires globally throughout the year, including moves in London. In the City the firm managed to lure former Norton Rose Fulbright partners Sam Eastwood and Jason Hungerford to the firm in 2018, while last week Mayer Brown secured the hires of DLA Piper duo Michael Fiddy and Amy Jacks.

The City office plans to hire more people throughout 2019 with a focus on building out the private equity practice to rival its historically strong pedigree in finance.

In November, the firm matched its 2017 commitment to the City with its last promotion round, minting four partners.

Overall, American firms performed well throughout 2018 in the City, with Latham & Watkins, Paul Hastings, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCoy and Reed Smith among those scoring standout financial results for the year.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Great synergies’: Mayer Brown adds long-awaited restructuring hires with DLA duo

‘Great synergies’: Mayer Brown adds long-awaited restructuring hires with DLA duo

Chicago-bred Mayer Brown has bolstered its restructuring, bankruptcy and insolvency (RBI) practice with a double hire from DLA Piper in London.

DLA veterans Michael Fiddy and Amy Jacks join Mayer Brown as co-head of the firm’s global RBI practice and co-head of the firm’s UK RBI practice respectively. Fiddy will lead the global group alongside New York partner Brian Trust and Hong Kong-based partner John Marsden, while Jacks takes on her leadership role alongside partner Devi Shah.

‘We have been looking to strengthen our RBI capability for a long time,’ Mayer Brown London senior partner Sally Davies told Legal Business. ‘Team hires are more successful than individual hires and Michael and Amy have great synergies between them.’

Fiddy built his reputation at DLA Piper as global co-chair of the restructuring group while acting for a number of financial institutions, funds, debtors and creditors. He also served as managing director of Fulham Football Club between 2000 and 2002. Jacks, meanwhile, has advised funds, investment and clearing banks, corporates and insolvency practitioners, while also spearheading DLA Piper’s UK restructuring practice.

Fiddy and Jacks are reunited with former DLA partner Alex Dell, who joined Mayer Brown in 2015 in a bid to enhance the firm’s cross border asset-based lending offering. Dell was one of the pull factors for the pair, while Mayer Brown was familiar with Fiddy and Jacks after being on the other side of the table to the two on various mandates.

‘We have been aware of the reputation of these two in the market for a while and we share a number of clients with them,’ Davies added. ‘We’re continuing to look at strengthening our RBI practice to ensure we’re fully joined up globally.’

It is yet to be confirmed when the pair will start at Mayer Brown.

DLA UK managing partner Liam Cowell commented: ‘Both Michael and Amy have made a significant contribution to our team over the years, and we wish them well for the future. We continue to have a very strong Restructuring practice and are regularly involved in some of the UK’s most high profile and complex restructuring matters reflecting the breadth and quality of our practice.’

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Mayer Brown makes up four in London as Weil renews City commitment after last year’s promotion drought

Mayer Brown makes up four in London as Weil renews City commitment after last year’s promotion drought

Mayer Brown and Weil, Gotshal & Manges have minted four and three partners respectively in the City amid increased global promotion rounds for the US outfits.

Mayer Brown promoted 34 globally and Weil chalked up 11, with the US getting the lion’s share of promotions at both firms.

For Mayer Brown the promotions, effective from January next year, match its City commitment from last year, when the firm made up four partners as part of a 31-strong global round. However, unlike last year, London outstripped Paris where only two partners were made up.

The new London partners include two in litigation and disputes resolution, one in employment and one in banking and finance. Meanwhile only one of the new City partners is a woman, with banking and finance lawyer Merryn Craske receiving the nod.

On the gender mix, Sally Davies, senior partner of Mayer Brown’s London office, told Legal Business: ‘I’m happy with our commitment. It’s just because of the candidates, I can’t make it two and two like we did last year. We have a number of female lateral hires lined up and globally the story is very good so I’m happy with that.’

Davies added that a number of laterals in the pipeline as well as internal promotions, meant expansion would continue.

Meanwhile, Weil promoted three partners in London in a renewed commitment to the City. Last year the firm promoted no partners in London for the first time since 2010, while this year 11 partners were promoted across the firm’s Frankfurt, London, New York and Silicon Valley offices.

Private funds, structured finance, and business finance and restructuring received a partner apiece in London, with Gemma Sage being the only woman promoted. New York received the majority of the new partners, with six being made up, an increase of two from last year.

‘I am very pleased to announce this group of diverse and talented lawyers who make up our new partner and counsel class,’ said Weil’s executive partner Barry Wolf. ‘They practice across the firm’s four departments, corporate, litigation, business finance & restructuring and tax, highlighting the strength of our global platform.’

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

 

Mayer Brown London promotions:

Giles Bywater – Pensions

Merryn Craske – Banking and finance

James Morris – Litigation and dispute resolution

James Whitaker – Litigation and dispute resolution

 

Weil, Gotshal & Manges London promotions:

James Bromley – Private funds

Alexander Martin – Structured finance

Gemma Sage – Business finance and restructuring

Legal Business

NRF loses veteran litigator Eastwood to Mayer Brown in further exit as Reed Smith scoops Pinsents’ Middle East head

NRF loses veteran litigator Eastwood to Mayer Brown in further exit as Reed Smith scoops Pinsents’ Middle East head

Mayer Brown and Reed Smith are continuing their recent expansion trajectories, this time at the expenses of Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF)’s London base and Pinsent Masons’ Middle East operations.

NRF saw the exit of one of its most senior London partners as veteran litigator Sam Eastwood headed for the door after three decades to join Mayer Brown.

Investigations and compliance partner Jason Hungerford has also left NRF for the Chicago-bred shop after seven years.

Eastwood joined legacy Norton Rose in 1989 and most recently acted as the firm’s business ethics and anti-corruption head after launching the group in 2008. Specialising in anti-bribery and regulatory compliance work, he played a key role in securing engineering company IMI as a client for NRF in 2015, becoming one of the company’s relationship partners.

Hungerford, who is dual qualified in the UK and US, joined NRF as a senior associate in 2011 after a spell at White & Case’s Washington DC base. He advises clients on government and internal investigations as well as compliance programmes related to US, UK and EU economic sanctions, export controls, anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws.

Ian McDonald, co-leader of Mayer Brown’s litigation and dispute resolution practice, told Legal Business that Eastwood was ‘an ideas person’: ‘He is somebody who has built that practice at NRF and I am always attracted by people who have thinking and ideas, not just clients and existing business.’

Of Hungerford he said: ‘In addition to the white collar side he has a particular expertise in sanctions and global trade. In a world where we have Trump throwing sanctions around like confetti and Brexit we anticipate that’s an area that will grow.’

The hires will replenish Mayer Brown’s London litigation practice after partner Tom Duncan quit for Ashurst at the beginning of the month.

Mayer Brown has been in expansion mode this year, hiring Fried Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson London finance head Stuart Brinkworth to its City bench and Allen & Overy’s global co-head of leveraged finance Scott Zemser in New York.

For its part, NRF had a bumpy first half of 2018, losing a number of partners in the US and Asia.

Meanwhile, Pinsents lost its Middle East head Sachin Kerur, who will now lead Reed Smith’s Dubai and Abu Dhabi operations.

Kerur will join Reed Smith together with Pinsents’ construction partner Michelle Nelson, a move which reunites the duo with former Pinsents’ arbitration partner Shourav Lahiri, who left the firm in 2013 to launch his own Singapore shop.

Reed Smith’s chair of energy and natural resources Prajakt Samant said the firm was ‘over the moon to have Sachin, Michelle and Shourav join us’: ‘[They] are regional veterans in the Middle East legal world, each widely acknowledged as outstanding practitioners and strategic thought leaders.’

A spokesperson for Pinsents said: ‘Our 90-strong Middle East business has expanded rapidly over the last two years as evidenced by our joint venture with Alsabhan & Alajaji and the appointment of the market-leading projects team in the region. It remains a key market for us and we will continue to invest in line with our strategic focus on the energy and infrastructure sectors.’

These are the latest in a series of laterals for Reed Smith, which earlier this year hired five partners from NRF in the US and Macfarlanes investment fund finance group leader Bronwen Jones in the City.

marco.cillario@legalease.co.uk