Legal Business

Revolving doors: Cadwalader, JHA and Memery Crystal make key City hires as international moves dominate

In a quieter week for City recruitment, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft  made a key hire in London while a number of firms expanded their teams internationally.

Cadwalader reinvigorated its finance practice with the hire of partner Samantha Hutchinson from Dentons, after an exodus saw four partners leave its City restructuring practice at the start of this year.  Hutchinson specialises in advising lenders on a range of financing products across all fund sectors.

Dentons also lost corporate partner Zarko Iankov to independent London firm Memery Crystal. Iankov had been at Dentons for 15 years, specialising in international M&A work.

Elsewhere in the City, boutique firm Joseph Hage Aaronson (JHA) confirmed the appointment of disputes expert Richard Kiddell, having left Hogan Lovells after 13 years at the firm.

Joe Hage, managing partner at JHA, commented: ‘Richard brings with him a wealth of expertise that will help us to deliver added value to current clients, increase the depth of our offer and support our associates in their professional development.’

Keystone Law acquired former Seddons partner Susan Monty as the firm strengthened its dispute resolution practice. Monty has experience as an investigative lawyer at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), and her appointment increases Keystone’s disputes team to 80 lawyers.

Osborne Clarke also made strategic additions, with the recruitment of Simon Thomas from Macfarlanes.  Thomas will join OC’s financial services team, having previously been a partner in the investment management group at Macfarlanes.

Kate Johnson, head of the financial institutions group at OC, lauded the hire, saying: ‘Simon brings a great market profile, strong credibility and outstanding personal client contacts. We look forward to having him on board.’

The international lateral scene saw more movement, as Hogan Lovells made a three-partner hire in Los Angeles, enhancing its national bankruptcy and restructuring practices. Richard Wynne, Bennet Spiegel and Erin Brady all join the firm from Jones Day  as Hogan Lovells boosts its California offering. The move comes after rival global firm Baker McKenzie recruited a five-partner employment and litigation team in LA from Hogan Lovells last month.

Chris Donoho, head of Hogan Lovells’ business restructuring and insolvency practice, said: ‘We have been looking to expand the national capabilities of our BRI practice, and Rick, Bennet and Erin are an ideal fit’

In Europe the lateral market was quiet, with Reed Smith being one of the few to make hires as the firm expanded its corporate practice with the acquisition Florian Hirschmann in Munich. Hirschmann joins from DLA Piper where he co-headed the China desk, while specialising in private equity and M&A work.

Delphine Currie, co-chair of the firm’s corporate practice, believed the hire will: ‘complement our existing capabilities and ensure we are able to offer our clients an even greater corporate service across Europe’

In Asia, Linklaters bolstered its disputes practice with the hire of former Goldman Sachs managing director Andrew Chung. Chung, who will join Linklaters the firm’s Hong Kong office as a partner in August, focuses on disputes and regulatory matters across the Asia-Pacific region.

Meanwhile Clyde & Co [] a significant departure in the Asia-Pacific, as Beijing managing partner Patrick Zheng left for Shanghai-based Llinks Law Offices. Before arriving at Clyde & Co, Zheng co-led the Greater China international arbitration practice for Clifford Chance (CC). Zheng will now help Llinks develop its Chinese clients’ outbound disputes practice.

Legal Business

Asia moves: Memery Crystal agrees partnership with China’s Yingke


As China continues to internationalise its economy, one of its largest law firms, Yingke, has announced an exclusive strategic partnership with London-based, mid-market corporate firm Memery Crystal.

A statement from Memery Crystal said the co-operation agreement will ‘will increase access for clients of both Memery Crystal and Yingke to new business opportunities’ and added it was the ‘perfect catalyst for UK and international clients of Memery Crystal aspiring to expand into China and for Yingke’s Chinese and worldwide clients interested in doing business in the UK and beyond.’

The move is Memery Crystal’s first foray into Asia. Beijing-headquartered Yingke currently has 57 offices and over 4,000 lawyers with a focus on real estate, employment, TMT, corporate M&A, and energy.

Over the last three years Yingke has expanded its international office network with openings across New York, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, London, Warsaw, Istanbul, Verona, Seoul and Taiwan. It also became one of the first Chinese firms to set up a presence in eastern Europe by establishing a joint venture in Budapest with Hungarian firm Varnai & Partners in 2010.

Memery Crystal specialises in AIM listings for SMEs and entrepreneurial clients and recently reported completing £1bn of retail and corporate mini-bonds in the last 18 months.

Yingke will also establish The Yingke London China Centre, a separate corporate entity to promote trade and investment and give commercial advice to business and high net worth individuals. The Centre will be run by British China International Consulting founder Marie Li.

Memery Crystal chief executive Lesley Gregory said: ‘Central to this exciting partnership are our clients and those of Yingke. In a rapidly evolving international market in which Memery Crystal is increasingly active, we are determined to offer inbound and outbound access to our clients and this, in conjunction with the new China Centre, delivers exactly that.’

Yingke global managing partner Xiangrong Mei said: ‘As a firm with many international clients and constant involvement in cross-border transactions, we have established close relationships with professional service firms in financial centres around the world. London is a major financial centre and Memery Crystal is a high quality law firm with whom we are delighted to work exclusively.’

The play follows news by Dentons in early November that it intends to create a tripartite union with Australian firm Gadens and Singaporean firm Rodyk & Davidson, taking its lawyer headcount to well in excess of 7,000 lawyers.

Legal Business

Post Excalibur litigation victory, Gulf Keystone enters the main market led by Memery Crystal


The sometimes nail-biting growth of independent oil and gas exploration companies was illustrated this week with the entry onto the London Stock Exchange (LSE) of Gulf Keystone Petroleum, led by City firm Memery Crystal, just months after the company successfully defeated a $1.6bn claim by Excalibur Ventures in one of the biggest cases of 2013.

Formerly AIM-listed Gulf Keystone, which is focused on exploration in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, had announced production of 10,000 barrels a day from its Shaikan facility and a target of 40,000 barrels in 2014 from a second facility expected to begin production in the second quarter, but faced a possible cash shortfall of around $20m by the end of May.

Its admission this week onto the offical list of the LSE, led by corporate partner Nick Davis, and a team including corporate associate Kieran Stone and corporate assistant Melanie Jory, will enable Gulf Keystone greater debt financing options, with the oil company reported to be planning to tap the bond market shortly.

The company is not raising any funds or issuing any new common shares in connection with its admission.

The listing comes after Gulf Keystone, represented by Memery Crystal, successfully defended a $1.6bn claim by Excalibur Ventures over the rights to exploit and develop the fields in Kurdistan, for which the City firm was named dispute resolution team of the year at the 2014 Legal Business Awards.

Highly rated for its work acting on small to medium-sized floats, Memery Crystal has acted for Gulf Keystone for over a decade on a number of significant transactions, including its admission to AIM in 2004 and a series of equity and debt financings totaling over $1bn.

Davis commented: ‘Memery Crystal congratulates Gulf on its admission to the official list and main market. It has been a pleasure to assist with its remarkable development over the past decade, and we look forward to continuing our relationship as Gulf enters this exciting new phase of its growth.’

The listing follows a number of high-profile retail floats on the main market, including Pets at Home and Poundland, which made their LSE debut earlier this month, while Just Eat also confirmed its intention to float on 17 March, gifting Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) and Linklaters with a high profile corporate mandate valued at between £700m to £900m.