Legal Business

Significant departures: Milbank hires Linklaters’ global energy co-head in double partner hire

Significant departures: Milbank hires Linklaters’ global energy co-head in double partner hire

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy has hired two leading projects partners from Linklaters‘ London office, Matthew Hagopian and Manzer Ijaz, who count among their clients Glencore, BP and ENI.

Hagopian, who is qualified in English and New York law, is co-head of Linklaters’ global energy sector and also leads the US law energy and project finance practice around the world. He has worked on more than 31 liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects and counts Spanish oil major Repsol and Italian gas giant Eni among his biggest clients.

Ijaz, who has worked closely with Hagopian in building up Linklaters’ client base in the energy sector and is listed as a leading individual for oil and gas in the Legal 500, has advised BP in Angola, Russia and Azerbaijan, and counts the world’s biggest commodities company Glencore as a major client.

Hagopian and Ijaz are two of Linklaters’ longest serving projects partners having both made partner at the Magic Circle firm in 1999. A spokesperson for the firm said: ‘We thank Matthew and Manzer for their contribution and wish them well.’

It is the second time that Milbank has raided Linklaters for top legal talent in the City, following the hire of corporate partner Mark Stamp in May 2012. Legal Business understands that Milbank and Linklaters are still thrashing out the terms of the move, with a joining date still to be confirmed.

Linklaters has been hit by a string of high-profile exits of late, with the protracted exit of its head of M&A real estate team Matthew Elliott to Kirkland & Ellis concluding earlier this month. While Elliott had only made partner in 2010, he had been at Linklaters since 1998 when he joined as a trainee solicitor, and was plugged as one of the firm’s up and coming stars after advising Qatar Investment Authority and Brookfield Property Partners on its £2.6bn bid for Canary Wharf owner Songbird Estates. Linklaters expected to gain up to £5.4m in legal fees for that work.

Legal Business

Targeting South Korea: Milbank opens in Seoul

Targeting South Korea: Milbank opens in Seoul

The influx of Western law firms in South Korea continued today (2 February) after local authorities rubber stamped Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy’s launch in Seoul.

The US firm follows its compatriots Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Ropes & Gray and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in opening in the country’s capital. Young Joon Kim, who managed what was a nascent Tokyo office in the six years to 2003, has been drafted in from the firm’s Hong Kong outpost to carry out government agency work in the country. The firm advises on large project financings which are supported by export-credit agencies like the Export-Import Bank of Korea (K-Exim) and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-Sure).

Over 20 US and London-based law firms have applied to open in South Korea since the country opened up its borders in 2012 to lawyers wanting to be licensed to practice. The office is the firm’s twelfth and fifth in Asia.

‘We are delighted to establish our newest office in Seoul and to have a permanent, central address from which to serve our many Korean clients as well as international companies doing business in Korea,’ said Milbank chairman Scott Edelman.

‘Given the extensive working relationships we have inside Korea’s public and private sectors, it will be a great advantage to have a full-time office closer to our clients – and to better coordinate with our offices globally,’ he added.

Kim, who studied in South Korea, noted that the office will result in ‘new opportunities for work on transactions, as well as potentially in disputes and general business advice’.

Legal Business

Asia: DLA Piper builds up its Singapore office while Milbank and Sidley expand in China

Asia: DLA Piper builds up its Singapore office while Milbank and Sidley expand in China

DLA Piper, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Sidley Austin have all completed partner raids on rivals in Asia as they seek to expand their presence in the region.

DLA Piper, which undertook a major overhaul of its Asia partnership in 2014 as it moved on underperforming lawyers, secured a coup with the hire of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Singapore partner John Viverito and of counsel Myles Hankin.

The corporate duo joined Gibson in 2008 from Jones Day to launch the firm’s Singapore office and will be joined by their former colleague, capital markets partner Joseph Bauerschmidt, who is departing Jones Day to reunite with Viverito. All three will join DLA Piper as partners.

Viverito will take charge of DLA Piper’s Singapore office, replacing insurance litigator John Goulios, who will now co-head the firm’s Asia Pacific insurance practice.

Meanwhile, Milbank has continued to add to its ranks in Asia, hiring another Allen & Overy Hong Kong partner in the form of M&A lawyer David Kuo.

Kuo, a US and Hong Kong qualified lawyer, made partner at the Magic Circle firm in May 2013. His practice focuses on cross-border acquisitions, focusing on handling work for private equity and hedge funds.

The US firm lured a four-lawyer team from A&O led by capital markets partner Jim Grandolfo at the tail end of 2013 and bolstered its ranks last year with the hire of Stephenson Harwood’s aviation finance chief Paul Ng in Singapore.

Attempts to capture market share in Asia have placed a premium on those with management experience, as a host of firm’s seek to rework strategies that have failed to bear fruit.

With technology M&A having created a surge in legal work at the international law firms able to handle cross-border work, Sidley Austin has hired management experience with the addition of US technology firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s Beijing head Kefei Li.

Li, who earlier in his career had spells at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Dewey & LeBoeuf, ended a three-year stint at the tech law firm to move his capital markets practice to Sidley Austin’s more developed Beijing office. He has headed Wilson Sonsini’s office in the Chinese capital since its opening in 2012.

Legal Business

Not a ‘secret cartel’: Linklaters and Milbank secure victory for Visa against major retailers

Not a ‘secret cartel’: Linklaters and Milbank secure victory for Visa against major retailers

Linklaters and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy have secured a judgment in favour of Visa after 12 major UK retailers, led by the Arcadia Group, sought damages in relation to Visa’s setting of interchange rates.

Mr Justice Simon ruled today (30 October) that the claim was too historic as they related to a period from 1977. Under Visa’s rules, the merchant pays a multilateral interchange fee (MIF) each time the cardholder makes a payment using the card. According to the claimants, the MIF totalled an illegal restriction of competition.

However, Justice Simon said in the judgment: ‘This is not a case of a ‘secret cartel’ operating over many years without the knowledge of victims and the authorities, and which has been discovered long afterwards. On the contrary, the existence and operation of the Visa four-party card payment system and the multilateral interchange fees were matters of public knowledge, which had been notified to the competition authorities.’

Alongside this, Marks & Spencer (M&S), Sainsbury’s and Tesco, also brought similar claims forward in regards to Visa’s interchange fees, which are still pending, although today’s decision may dispose of the historic claims.

Linklaters’ commercial disputes partner Michael Sanders represented Visa Europe, Visa Europe Services and Visa UK, instructing 20 Essex Street’s Stephen Morris QC, Brick Court Chambers’ Daniel Jowell QC and Monckton Chambers’ Anneli Howard.

For Visa Inc and Visa International Service Association, Milbank’s co-managing partner of London and head of litigation and arbitration Julian Stait instructed Brian Kennelly of Blackstone Chambers.

Stewarts Law’s competition litigation head Jonathan Sinclair, who instructed Brick Court’s Fergus Randolph QC and Max Schaefer, and Matrix Chambers’ Christopher Brown, acted for the claimants.

The 12 claimants were Arcadia Group Brands, Asda Stores, B&Q, Comet Group (which went into liquidation), Debenhams, House of Fraser, Iceland Foods, New Look, Next, Record 2 Shop (also in liquidation), WM Morrison Supermarkets and Argos.

For the other claims, Stewarts Law acted for M&S, Bingham McCutchen’s Frances Murphy advised Sainsbury’s and Mark Humphries senior partner at Humphries Kerstetter represented Tesco.

The outcome is subject to a proposed appeal.

Legal Business

‘A critical step’: Paul Hastings takes top Milbank high yield partner as it builds leveraged finance team

‘A critical step’: Paul Hastings takes top Milbank high yield partner as it builds leveraged finance team

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy’s high-yield finance lawyer Peter Schwartz is leaving to join Paul Hastings in London, in a bid to boost the firm’s capital markets and leveraged finance capability in Europe.

Schwartz was a partner in Milbank’s global securities team, and specialises in high-yield bonds, leveraged loans and general securities advice, including both debt and equity capital markets.

He comes highly ranked by the Legal 500 and is a significant boost to Paul Hastings’ growing City practice which recently added financial services regulatory and transactional partner Ben Regnard-Weinrabe from Hogan Lovells in June 2014, and real estate partner David Ryland from legacy firm SJ Berwin in November 2013.

Paul Hastings chair of the Leveraged Finance practice, William Schwitter, says: ‘His [Peter’s] understanding of the European high-yield product, and his relationships with investment banks including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America as well as a range of issuer clients, will be highly accretive to our global leveraged finance platform.

Schwitter added: ‘Peter’s addition is a critical step in the roll out of a fully integrated bank/bond leveraged finance team in London, covering EMEA.’

Ronan O’Sullivan, chair of the London office, added: ‘As we continue to strengthen and diversify our London offering, attracting a partner of Peter’s reputation and experience to lead our capital markets and leveraged finance practices is a great step for us. Peter will support leveraged finance transactions for our French, German and Italian offices, as well as complement our European growth markets initiative in both high-yield and equity capital markets.’

Some of the Paul Hastings key clients within the European capital markets sector include CVC, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Société Générale, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank with recent deals including representing the underwriters on Electrica’s privatisation – the largest IPO ever conducted in Romania; SEC registered IPOs of technology companies Materialise and voxeljet; and CVC Credit Partners on its London listed equity placing programme.

For more on the developing finance market from Legal Business see: Back in the machine – opportunity and threats amid much-changed debt markets

Legal Business

Transatlantic Weil and Milbank teams advise on circa €2bn Flint acquisition; A&O launches Primark in the US

Transatlantic Weil and Milbank teams advise on circa €2bn Flint acquisition; A&O launches Primark in the US

Weil, Gotshal & Manges London, German and New York banking teams have advised the lenders on Goldman Sachs and Koch Industries’ acquisition of Flint Group from CVC Capital Partners for a purchase price reported to be more than Flint’s 2013 revenue of €2.2bn, as a transatlantic Allen & Overy (A&O) team assisted Primark on its launch into the US.

The acquisition of Flint, a global supplier of inks and other print consumables, also handed out lead roles to Hengeler Mueller for CVC; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy for Goldman Sachs; and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett on the purchasers’ debt financing.

Goldman Sachs’ merchant banking division partnered with Koch Equity Development, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, to acquire 100% of the share capital of Flint Group, which operates from 137 sites in 40 countries and employs around 6,600 people.

Weil advised the lenders to Goldman Sachs: Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley as lead arrangers, and Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Barclays as joint bookrunners.

Weil’s multi-jurisdictional team comprised London banking partners Chris McLaughlin, Stephen Lucas and Gil Strauss, Munich banking partner Tobias Geerling and associate Wolfgang Sϋss, and New York banking partners Dan Dokos, Doug Urquhart, Morgan Bale and Danek Freeman.

German firm Hengeler Mueller meanwhile advised London-headquartered CVC with a team out of Munich and London led by corporate and M&A partners Hans-Jörg Ziegenhain and Steffen Oppenländer respectively.

Also advising are Düsseldorf-based partners Thorsten Mäger and Dirk Uwer on antitrust and regulatory issues, while Frankfurt-based partner Alexander Rang along with counsel Axel Gehringer advised on finance issues.

Milbank also formed a tripartite German, London and New York team for Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking, led by Munich-based corporate partners Peter Nussbaum and Michael Pujol, New York corporate partner John Franchini, and Frankfurt-based partners Andrea Eggenstein and Rainer Magold who advised on corporate and banking and finance issues respectively.

London partners Stuart Harray and Suhrud Mehta are advising on corporate and leveraged finance issues respectively.

Also advising are Munich-based competition partner Alexander Rinne, tax partner Dale Ponikvar and investment law partner Eric Moser, both based in New York.

A Simpson Thacher team led by Jennifer Hobbs is representing Goldman Sachs and Koch on the deal’s debt financing.

Elsewhere, A&O represented Primark on the budget clothes retailer’s entry into the US with the launch of a 70,000 sq-ft flagship store in Boston, which will open towards the end of 2015.

A&O global corporate chairman Richard Cranfield advised the Associated British Foods (ABF) subsidiary on the UK aspects of the deal, while a team in the US was led by real estate partner Kevin O’Shea and real estate senior counsel Alan Schacter, assisted by corporate partner Eric Shube.

Shube has previously advised ABF on the private placement of a series of multimillion-dollar senior notes as well as ABF North America Holdings on the sale of food ingredients business of SPI Polyols to Corn Products International in 2007.

Legal Business

Singapore: QFLP renewals, hires for Milbank and a new office for Harneys

Singapore has over the past month dominated much of the legal agenda in Asia, starting with the renewal process early in March of its sought-after qualifying foreign legal practice (QFLP) licences.

Of the original six firms that were awarded a QFLP in 2008 and which came up for five-year renewal, Allen & Overy (A&O), Clifford Chance, Latham & Watkins and Norton Rose Fulbright had their licences renewed for another five years.