Legal Business

Paul Hastings withdraws from Milan as K&L Gates loses eight-partner employment team in Australia

Paul Hastings withdraws from Milan as K&L Gates loses eight-partner employment team in Australia

Paul Hastings is shutting up shop in Milan as its office head leaves for a US rival while K&L Gates has seen an exodus of partners in Australia.

Bruno Cova has been a corporate partner at Paul Hastings for over 14 years and currently chairs the firm’s operation in Milan. However, Cova is set to leave the firm for Studio Legale Delfino e Associati Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Though the hires have not yet been finalised, Cova is expected to join alongside litigation partner Francesca Petronio.

In a statement, the firm commented: ‘We would like to express our gratitude for the contribution of Bruno and Francesca to our Milan office and to our firm’s service of our clients in Italy. Looking forward, we believe that our clients will be best served in this region working collaboratively with the leading independent firms in the market.’

The closure comes after Herbert Smith Freehills hired an energy and infrastructure team from Paul Hastings over the summer, with two partners and four associates among those joining the Anglo-Australian firm in Milan. The team included Paul Hastings’ chair of EU energy and infrastructure Lorenzo Parola. As a result of the exits, Cova and Petronio were the only two remaining partners for Paul Hastings in the Milan office, with their imminent departures sealing the outpost’s fate.

Italy has proved to be a complex market for UK and US firms, with their models often hard to combine with a market dominated by smaller groups of veterans that run independent firms. Latham & Watkins, Linklaters, Dentons and White & Case are among the more recent entrants in the region.

Elsewhere, K&L Gates has lost around 30 employment lawyers in Australia, with approximately 8 partners thought to be among the departures. The firm has a presence in Australia with four offices in Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, having first entered the country through a merger with national firm Middletons in 2013.

A K&L Gates spokesperson commented: ‘We can confirm there have been some recent partner resignations from our Australian labour, employment and workplace safety team. As we are still in discussions with this team regarding their departure, we are unable to provide additional information at this time. Regardless, our Australian labour, employment and workplace safety practice will remain strong and will continue to be a core area of service for K&L Gates clients in Australia and globally.’

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Cross-border M&A: Asian bidders usher in different mindset

Cross-border M&A: Asian bidders usher in different mindset

Alex Novarese, Legal Business: It has been a record period for Asian activity into Europe. How do you see the general trends?

Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, Hinduja Group: China is an issue, because the main difference between the Asian companies, European companies and Chinese companies is that Chinese companies are directly or indirectly state-owned.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: McDermott hires Hogan Lovells private equity head as Dechert loses partners in London and Paris

Revolving doors: McDermott hires Hogan Lovells private equity head as Dechert loses partners in London and Paris

The lateral market maintained momentum last week as McDermott Will & Emery hired from Hogan Lovells with both Addleshaw Goddard and Paul Hastings targeting Dechert.

McDermott added Hogan Lovells’ global private equity head Tom Whelan. Whelan, who is experienced in private equity life cycle, has worked with private equity sponsors, multi strategy funds and corporates. His work includes advising on buyouts, M&A, bolt-ons, restructurings and refinancings through to exits.

Hamid Yunis, McDermott’s London managing partner told Legal Business: ‘We are always looking to build upon the strong practices which we have in London and to add top quality lawyers who are equally focused on providing world class client service.’

Addleshaws has hired restructuring partner Paul Fleming who joins the London business support and restructuring insolvency practice from Dechert.

Fleming has been involved in cross-border work, both in restructuring and contentious insolvency matters and advises creditors including institutional lenders and bondholders, stakeholders, insolvency practitioners and directors.

Partner and head of business support and restructuring, Ged Barnes commented: ‘This is the start of an ambitious strategy for the team which will help us to capitalise on our international offices.  Paul’s expertise in cross border insolvencies, funds recovery work and complex, high value insolvency litigation is a great fit with our existing practice.’

Meanwhile, Burges Salmon hired partner Stuart McMillan to its banking team from DLA Piper. He has worked in energy and infrastructure finance and advised banks and borrowers on project finance, acquisition finance and real estate finance deals involving cross-border financing. He will help develop the general Scottish banking practice as well as the firm’s infrastructure, real estate and energy offering.

Burges Salmon managing partner, Roger Bull told Legal Business: ‘Stuart is extremely high quality with a great reputation in the market. From our perspective, he’s got great experience in relation to finance and projects along with some of the other sectors that we’ve been focusing on like energy and renewables. He has those particular skills that will assist and drive our client offer forward in Edinburgh.

‘Banking is performing well. We’re having strong performance across the firm so far this financial year. The banking team are ever expanding their remit, expertise and focus which is very much aligned with Stuart’s appointment,’ added Bull.

Elsewhere, Fieldfisher has hired Paul Stockley as its new co-head of oil and gas. He joins the energy and natural resources group in London from Womble Bond Dickinson where he was head of oil and gas.

Stockley said: ‘The firm’s reputation for all forms of energy and natural resources work is already well-established across the industry and I am encouraged by its ambitious plans for future growth. I look forward to being a part of those plans, leveraging off a tremendous brand and platform.’

Paul Hastings has added to its Paris office with the hire of corporate partner Charles Cardon from Dechert. He has a focus on takeovers, M&A, private equity, and capital markets transactions.

Cardon advises public companies in their takeover bids, issuance of securities, governance matters, disclosure requirements and relationship with shareholders, as well as corporate law matters.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Alston & Bird has added senior privacy and cybersecurity partner Wim Nauwelaerts from Sidley Austin.

Privacy and cybersecurity co-chair Jim Harvey commented: ‘Privacy and cybersecurity continue to be increasingly critical issues for CEOs and boards, especially among US-based multinationals that view data protection as a global issue.

‘Wim is an internationally recognised attorney in the EU privacy and cybersecurity arena with a well-earned reputation as a trusted voice in advising senior executives in the US, Europe, and elsewhere on strategic business decisions and initiatives involving their companies’ most valuable data assets,’ Harvey added.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Slaughters leads on Hong Kong’s £32bn LSE bid as US firms tap into mid-market

Dealwatch: Slaughters leads on Hong Kong’s £32bn LSE bid as US firms tap into mid-market

Strategic deals have continued into September after a busy summer, with firms rallying to get deals over the line before a Brexit cliff-edge threatens to become a reality.

Slaughter and May has landed a mandate to advise Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) on a bid which, if successful, would see it acquire the London Stock Exchange (LSE) for £32bn. Partner David Watkins is leading the Slaughters team.

The proposed transaction has already sparked controversy around competition concerns as well as HKEX’s condition that any takeover would be conditional on LSE scrapping its planned $27bn acquisition of financial data business Refinitiv, a deal that was abnnounced in July.

The board of LSE yesterday (11 September) issued a statement describing the proposed acquisition by HKEX as ‘unsolicited, preliminary and highly conditional,’ confirming it continued to make good progress on the Refinitiv deal. A Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer team led by partners Andrew Hutchings and Stephen Hewes are advising LSE on the Refinitiv deal and is likely to be mandated on this latest transaction.

Meanwhile Weil, Gotshal & Manges is advising Campbell’s Soup Company on the sale of its European chips business which includes Kettle Chips and Metcalfe’s skinny popcorn to Dublin-based Valeo Foods for $80m.

The Weil team was led by corporate partners Michael Aiello, James Harvey and Mike Francies. Partners Joe Pari, Chayim Neubort and Oliver Walker are advising on the tax while partner Barry Fishley is advising on intellectual property and technology.

CapVest and its portfolio company Valeo Foods were advised by a Willkie Farr & Gallagher team led by David Arnold and included associates Andrew Gray, Amelia Doughty, Michael Grant and Gabriella Denlew. Partner Jane Scobie led on the tax aspects.

In 2017, Campbell’s bought Kettle Chips producer Snyder’s-Lane for $4.87bn. The transaction is part of the company’s strategy to focus on its core products of canned soup and snacks. This deal follows Campbell’s sale of Danish manufacturer of baked snacks Kelsen Group to Belgian holding company CTH Invest for $300m.

Campbell’s will retain the Kettle brand business in the US and other area, while Valeo takes control of its UK, Europe and Middle East operation.

Weil has advised Campbell’s on a number of transactions this year, namely the recent sale of KKR to Arnott’s. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, regulatory approvals and consultations and is expected to close at the end of this year.

Elsewhere, Paul Hastings advised private equity firm Oakley Capital on its investment in the Italian high-end homeware business Alessi.

The Paul Hastings team was led by Anu Balasubramanian and included corporate associates David Prowse and Aimée Fabri from the London office and Juljan Puna and Giulia Fiorelli from the Milan office while Gatti Pavesi Bianchi advised on the financing aspects of the transaction.

Balasubramanian told Legal Business: ‘Given the macroeconomic climate in Europe and the political environment across the board with Brexit, I think there is concern that both the capital line as well as potential opportunities may not dry up necessarily but everything is going to potentially become a little more difficult. People are trying to get deals over the line which is probably why we had the busiest summer.’

Alessi was advised by a team from Italian firm Gattai, Minoli, Agostinelli Partners led by corporate partner Bruno Gattai and includes partners Federico BalRiccardo Agostinelli, Andrea Taurozzi and associates Jacopo Bennard and Jacopo Ceccherini.

Paul Hastings has advised Oakley Capital on its acquisition of EkonVideotel and Seagull as well as their joint venture with Admiral and Mapfre to acquire Rastreator and Acierto.

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Paul Hastings and Slaughters react on nuclear sale as Magic Circle duo imbibes Greene King takeover

Dealwatch: Paul Hastings and Slaughters react on nuclear sale as Magic Circle duo imbibes Greene King takeover

August has proved to be active with big-ticket deals prompting inbound investment to the UK with the disposal of John Wood Group’s nuclear business to US-based Jacobs Engineering Group, as well as the sale of Greene King to Hong Kong’s CKA Group.

Paul Hastings advised Jacobs Engineering Group on its acquisition of John Wood Group’s nuclear business in the UK, Europe and the Far East for a cash consideration of roughly £250m.

The deal is part of Wood’s strategy to offload its non-core areas and to lower its debt levels following its acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler in 2017. The deal is subject to conditions including competition clearance and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Jacobs, a New York Stock Exchange listed company, is a provider of technical services and has an expansion strategy for its complementary areas of aerospace, technology and nuclear.

The Paul Hastings team, led by London-based M&A partner Roger Barron, included managing partner Ronan O’Sullivan and M&A partner Matthew Poxon, both in London.

John Wood Group was advised on the transaction by a Slaughter and May team led by corporate partners Simon Nicholls and Filippo de Falco and included competition partners Lisa Wright and Bertrand Louveaux, pension and employment partners Padraig Cronin and Daniel Schaffer as well as data protection partner Rebecca Cousin.

Barron told Legal Business: ‘This is just the sort of deal that I joined Paul Hastings to do – transatlantic M&A for a major US company, where we can provide the sector expertise as well as deal execution capability on both sides of the pond.

‘Jacobs has a very clear strategy for using M&A to expand into profitable and complementary areas. This is seen as a good business and works well with their existing strategy. For this deal about 90% of the business is UK. You could see this as a US company being confident in the prospects of a UK business,’ added Barron.

Meanwhile, Linklaters won a lead mandate advising pub giant Greene King on its proposed £2.7bn sale to Hong Kong real estate group CKA, with Clifford Chance (CC) advising the buyer.

The 220 year old Suffolk-based brewery has around 2,700 pubs, restaurants and hotels nationally. Its acquisition follows the takeover of Ei Group by Stonegate Pub for £1.3m last month.

The Linklaters team was led by corporate partners Dan Schuster-Woldan and Nick Rumsby while Lee Coney and Nick Rees led the CC team which also included Alex Nourry (antitrust), Sonia Gilbert (employment) and Matt Taylor (real estate).

Norton Rose Fulbright advised HSBC, the financial adviser to CK Asset Holdings. CKA has agreed to the terms of the acquisition which include a 51% premium on the value of Greene King through its recently formed Cayman Islands based subsidiary CK Bidco.

The Norton Rose team was led by corporate partner Paul Whitelock.

Elsewhere a Ropes & Gray London team, led by private equity partner Philip Sanderson and finance partner Malcolm Hitching, advised private equity firm Duke Street on the acquisition of railway holiday provider, Vacation by Rail.

The US acquisition, funded partially by English law governed facilities, brought together the firm’s English and US law expertise. The deal follows the acquisition of Great Rail Journeys, escorted rail holiday provider, by Duke Street Capital from ECI a year ago.

Andrew Arons at Williams, Bax and Saltzman in Chicago acted for the sellers.

Sanderson told Legal Business: ‘The deal reflects an important trend of PE backed businesses like GRJ seeking growth in the US. This has become increasingly important for ambitious mid-market businesses where a strong European platform is proven and allows PE to support the next step into the US. We are regularly helping businesses in this way.

“The European summer deal market has been favourable for few in PE. The paucity of deals has naturally combined with high price for the deals that do come to market. The B word has left the market as uncertain as it has been for many years and so bolt ons for PE have become a popular means to generate activity from within the portfolio. Better what you know, is a factor in that, as well as the potential for economies and bargains from smaller strategically important deals.’

muna.abdi@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Paul Hastings targets private equity again with Hogan Lovells trio

Paul Hastings targets private equity again with Hogan Lovells trio

Paul Hastings has made a significant private equity play at the expense of Hogan Lovells, hiring a three-partner transatlantic team.

Ed Harris – who led Hogan Lovell’s private equity practice in the City – joins alongside Leanne Moezi in London, while Virginia-based partner Adam Brown joins Paul Hastings’ Washington office.

Harris had been at Hogan Lovells since 2013 after joining from SJ Berwin and was one of only three private equity transactional partners in the UK, having forged lucrative relationships with clients such as private equity house Pantheon Ventures.

Moezi also brings experience advising private equity houses, companies and financial institutions and was well-regarded at Hogan Lovells. In 2018, M&A and private equity accounted for 23% of the Hogan Lovell’s total revenue.

The trio are set to be reunited with former Hogan Lovells M&A partner Steven Bryan who decamped to Paul Hastings in March. Last year, the firm tapped Linklaters for M&A veteran Roger Barron and hired private equity rising star Anu Balasubramanian (pictured) from DLA Piper, with expansion in transactional practices a defining part of the firm’s City recruitment strategy.

Balasubramanian told Legal Business: ‘We’ve been targeting the private equity space since the day I arrived. Ed and his team have a very good reputation in the market and the hires have a great overlap with our funds practice.’

Paul Hastings enjoyed strong revenue growth in its last financial year, as City revenue hiked 14% while global revenues rose 9%. Meanwhile, profit per equity partner broke the £3m barrier, rising 12% to $3.25m.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

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.

marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

‘Better than many’: Paul Hastings sees London revenue grow 14% as Milbank breaks $1bn barrier globally

‘Better than many’: Paul Hastings sees London revenue grow 14% as Milbank breaks $1bn barrier globally

Paul Hastings saw its strong revenue growth in London tempered slightly to 14% in 2018 in what remained a strong year for the US outfit.

The double-digit revenue increase in London is lower than last year’s 25% rise, however it outstrips the firm’s global growth figure of 9%, itself up from 4% last year. Profit per equity partner (PEP) meanwhile broke the $3m mark, rising 12% to $3.25m.

‘The figures in London exceed the growth figures globally and is better than many of our competitors,’ Paul Hastings’ London chair Arun Birla told Legal Business. ‘In London we’re focusing on the practices we are strong in globally and it’s proving successful.’

The figures mean Paul Hastings has seen a 25% increase in PEP over the last two years while both London headcount and revenue has doubled over the last five. Global equity partner numbers meanwhile remained fairly static over the last year, falling by three from 190 to 187.  The results also come as the firm made aggressive hires in the City last year, with former DLA Piper private equity partner Anu Balasubramanian and ex-Linklaters M&A partner Roger Barron proving the most defining hires for Paul Hastings in 2018.

‘We are proud to have our PEP break $3m,’ Birla added. ‘We are one of the few firms who can say we’ve reached that figure and its come as we continue to strengthen our team and practices.’

Meanwhile, nine successive years of revenue growth means Milbank has passed the $1bn mark in gross revenue for the first time, reaching $1.034bn after a 13% increase during 2018. This adds to the previously reported 25% hike in Milbank’s City turnover to $156m, matching the 25% growth the firm saw in continental Europe. The figures are a considerable increase on last year’s 9% growth in the City, when revenues reached $125m.

‘The stellar year in London reflects a number of things,’ Milbank’s London co-manager Julian Stait told Legal Business. ‘All our practice areas have had a spectacular year, in addition we started 2018 with two blockbuster hires with the four-partner team from Cadwalader combining with our existing restructuring practice to give us the pre-eminent restructuring practice in the City.’

The story of US firms in London this year has widely been one of further success, with White & Case, King & Spalding, Reed Smith and Akin Gump all producing strong City performances.

thomas.alan@legalbusiness.co.uk

For more on Paul Hastings’ London ambitions, see ‘Still more promise than delivery but Paul Hastings shows signs of progress

Legal Business

Still more promise than delivery but Paul Hastings shows signs of progress

Still more promise than delivery but Paul Hastings shows signs of progress

Thomas Alan assesses the fortunes of the US giant after a (relatively) expansive 2018

Paul Hastings’ recent London history could be seen as a story of tempered ambitions. In the mid-2000s, the firm talked about hitting 200 lawyers in the City, while in 2012 the hope was to be at around 140 lawyers by 2016. With lawyer headcount only reaching 100 this year, it is clear that those lofty ambitions are hard to realise. However, between 2012 and 2017, the firm’s City headcount increased by 78%. If you aim high, falling short does not mean disaster.