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.

Legal Business

Paul Hastings doubles up in the City as A&O loses global IP head to Kirkland

Paul Hastings doubles up in the City as A&O loses global IP head to Kirkland

Paul Hastings pulled off two headline lateral hires in London in a week as the US firm strengthens its corporate offering in the City.

Private equity rising star Anu Balasubramanian was the first hire announced, as DLA Piper lost another key dealmaker in the City. The addition will be a major boost to Paul Hastings’ City corporate and private equity practice, with Balasubramanian bringing experience in an array of mid-market work, acting for sponsors such as ABRY Partners, Accel-KKR, Oakley Capital and Aurium Capital Markets.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings lands Bakers FinReg veteran as Reed Smith hires City IP expert and Mayer Brown appoints Fried Frank’s UK finance head

Revolving Doors: Paul Hastings lands Bakers FinReg veteran as Reed Smith hires City IP expert and Mayer Brown appoints Fried Frank’s UK finance head

In what has otherwise been a relatively subdued week for City laterals, Paul Hastings, Reed Smith and Mayer Brown have bolstered their London partner ranks with financial regulatory, intellectual property (IP) and finance hires respectively.

Paul Hastings continued its recruitment spree with the hire, announced today (11 June), of partner Arun Srivastava from Baker McKenzie, where he spent more than 22 years and headed its financial services regulatory group. He has also spent a year with the Financial Services Authority on secondment between 1999 and 2000.

Srivastava will now lead Paul Hastings’ London regulatory and fintech payments practice.

The hire comes as the firm looks to expand its London offering, having recently made two headline hires in the form of Linklaters’ M&A heavyweight Roger Barron and private equity star Anu Balasubramanian from DLA Piper.

Seth Zachary, chair of Paul Hastings, said: ‘Arun is one of the leading financial regulatory lawyers in London and will enhance our capabilities across our finance, fintech and payments, funds and transactional practices. It is central to our growth strategy in London that we attract the finest lawyers in their specialisms, and Arun’s practice and pedigree in the regulatory space will be extremely helpful for us.’

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-bred Reed Smith has hired Howard Womersley Smith as a partner in its London IP, tech and data practice from Cambridge tech law firm Taylor Vinters. He was previously a partner and head of fintech and data at that firm since 2015, acting for financial services providers on the customer and supply sides, as well as advising clients on data protection and GDPR compliance.

He had previously worked in-house at COLT Telecom and Standard Chartered Bank, where he was global head of legal and compliance for commercial and tech matters.

Cynthia O’Donoghue, head of international information technology at Reed Smith, said: ‘Howard brings with him a great depth of knowledge on current issues such as GDPR, as well as a true specialism in fintech and financial services which align perfectly with our sector focus at Reed Smith. Our IP, tech and data practice continues to experience a growing demand from clients across the global network.’

For its part, Mayer Brown is understood to have hired Fried Frank London finance head Stuart Brinkworth (pictured) to its City bench. Brinkworth joined Fried Frank from Hogan Lovells in 2015, tasked with building debt fund relationships with clients in London and supporting the firm’s private equity practice.

North of the border, TLT hired banking and finance partner Douglas Gourlay from Weighmans, where he led the UK real estate finance practice.

Mayer Brown also announced two US hires from Morgan Lewis aimed at bolstering the firm’s offering to Japanese clients. Satoru Murase joins the firm’s New York corporate and securities practice. He advises on a range of M&A, litigation and finance matters, having also acted on employment and government relations matters.

Yoshihide Ito, who specialises in international trade policy, economic trade sanctions and trade disputes, will join Mayer Brown’s Washington DC government and global trade practice.

Philip Brandes, co-leader of Mayer Brown’s corporate and securities practice, said: ‘As Japanese companies navigate global markets, they seek lawyers well-versed in cross-border investment, litigation and regulatory matters. Satoru and Yoshi check all the boxes.’

King & Spalding hired Marc-Olivier Langlois to its trial and global disputes practice in Paris from Hughes Hubbard & Reed, where he was co-chair of the firm’s construction disputes group.

Langlois is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) task force on maximising the probative value of witness evidence, and has acted on commercial arbitrations, pharmaceutical licencing and defence contracts.

In Asia, Orrick recruited at the expense of Dentons as Sarah Zeng joined the firm’s private equity practice in Beijing. Zeng had been managing partner of Denton’s Beijing office, and has previously worked in-house as general counsel of Chinese engine manufacturer Weichai Power. Zeng becomes the 18th partner to join Orrick’s global M&A practice since 2016, and the fourth in China in the past year.

Dentons meanwhile has secured an addition of its own, with the firm bringing in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) shared operations director Lisa Sewell as its new UK and Middle East managing director. Sewell had spent ten years at RBS, having also worked as head of bank-wide simplification, before leading a team of 7,500 across the UK, Poland and India.

thomas.alan@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Paul Hastings turns to Linklaters for hire of second City corporate heavyweight in a week

Paul Hastings turns to Linklaters for hire of second City corporate heavyweight in a week

An expansive Paul Hastings has made its second headline lateral in London in a week, this time at the expense of Linklaters.

M&A heavyweight Roger Barron is leaving the Magic Circle firm after more than 17 years as a partner, where he has acted on a number of key mandates.

These include advising National Grid on its £13.8bn sale of a 61% stake in its gas distribution business to a group of investors, as well as the £1.1bn acquisition and later £2.5bn disposal of National Grid Wireless.

He also notably advised on the £21bn proposed merger between London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse, which was later blocked by EU regulators.

Barron’s long list of clients also include Lendlease, Siemens, E.ON and BT.

‘The London legal market is in a dynamic state and I believe that Paul Hastings is particularly well placed to offer clients a truly transatlantic service,’ Barron said.

Paul Hastings chair Seth Zachary added: ‘This significant appointment underlines our focus and commitment to accelerate the growth of our M&A practice in London, and enhance our offering to the firm’s global clients.’

Traditionally underrated in the City compared to other aggressive US firms, Paul Hastings’ hire follows another key lateral just last week, bringing over DLA Piper deal star Anu Balasubramanian to lead its London private equity team.

Paul Hastings’ London office chair Ronan O’Sullivan told Legal Business that after investing heavily in its finance business over the years the firm wanted to ‘enhance our transactional engine room with talent of the highest order. Anu and Roger are both at the top of their game and are quite complementary in what they do’.

Hiring partners in mainstream M&A has traditionally been difficult for US firms, with client relationships trickier to bring over compared to the private equity space. But O’Sullivan said: ‘A lot of the clients Roger works for are active globally and part of our mission is to service clients in every geography with equal quality. Roger realised that in many ways US firms, and particularly ours, have the capacity to offer something that might not have been so obvious in his current firm. It’s really the clients driving this.’

With Balasubramanian and Barron joining over the summer, Paul Hastings will have a 15-strong transactional team, and O’Sullivan said the firm was looking to grow further.

It had also previously tapped Linklaters in 2015 for finance heavyweight David Ereira.

The firm’s City practice posted an eye-catching 25% revenue rise in 2017, adding to pressure on the UK elite.

marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Another City loss for DLA Piper as private equity star quits for Paul Hastings

Another City loss for DLA Piper as private equity star quits for Paul Hastings

Paul Hastings has hired Anu Balasubramanian to lead its private equity team in London, a striking move that sees DLA Piper lose one of its brightest deal stars.

The loss of Balasubramanian will be a fresh blow for DLA after a turbulent few months that have seen a high-profile partner exodus in the City to McDermott Will & Emery (MWE).

Balasubramanian (pictured) joined DLA in 2013 from Kirkland & Ellis where she had worked since 2006, making partner the following year. She emerged as DLA’s hands-down star female deal lawyer in Alphas, Legal Business’ recent feature on standout women playmakers.

Her hire will be a boon for Paul Hastings’ City corporate and private equity practice, which is currently led by partners Ronan O’Sullivan and Garrett Hayes, fielding existing clients including Starwood Capital, HIG Capital, Vector Capital, SICP and Oaktree.

Paul Hastings chair Seth Zachary commented: ‘Anu is an acclaimed leader in the market with strong relationships with institutional and corporate clients across multiple sectors and geographies.

‘Our private equity practice has developed a strong presence globally and her arrival will position us to increase market share in Europe, which is a key strategic imperative for the firm’.

Balasubramanian has been a prolific operator for mid-market work, acting for sponsors including ABRY Partners, Accel-KKR, Oakley Capital and Aurium Capital, typically on deals ranging from £200-£600m.

Her hire closely follows that of cybersecurity partner Sarah Pearce from Cooley earlier this month.

Paul Hastings recently reported 25% revenue growth in the London office following a strong 2017 and major mandates including the restructuring of The Cooperative Bank and the €3.5bn acquisition by NJJ Telecom Europe of a majority of eir, the Irish telecommunications and broadband operator.

Meanwhile DLA has had a run of ill-fortune, last month fielding a fresh assault from MWE when it hired London-based real estate partners Laurence Rogers, Neville Wright and Tom Calnan.

The trio’s loss comes quickly after McDermott brought in a team of 50 lawyers from DLA in the US, in a string of major moves touted as adding $100m revenue to its top line.

The departures cast a long shadow over DLA’s 2017 revenue rebound to $2.63bn, a 7% uptick on the previous year.

Nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

For more on the standout female deal stars in the City, read Alphas – the hunt for female deal stars (and why it’s hard to be a City woman)

Legal Business

‘Strategic progress’: Paul Hastings posts 16% revenue rise in Europe to £96m

‘Strategic progress’: Paul Hastings posts 16% revenue rise in Europe to £96m

The European offices at Paul Hastings had a record year in 2015, with profit increasing by 50% from £20.2m to £30.2m. The firm also posted a 16% increase in revenue from £82.5m to £96m, according to filings at Companies House for the year ending 31 January 2016.

The revenue growth is consistent with the increase in headcount from 120 lawyers in 2015 to 131 on 31 January 2016, including the addition of three partners taking the total number of partners to 32.

Paul Hastings’ European LLP includes offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Frankfurt. While the London office raked in 58.1% of the overall LLP turnover, the firm would not disclose further revenues by location.

Paul Hastings London office chair Ronan O’Sullivan said: ‘We had another record year in London and a very successful 2015 throughout Europe, and continue to make strategic progress with our clients and practices globally and across Europe.’

As reported back in March, Paul Hastings resisted the slowdown in the US legal market by posting record profits globally, with PEP crossing the $2.5m barrier and revenue rising 6% from $1bn in 2014 to $1.06bn last year.

While the US firm announced the hire of Ashurst heavyweight Nigel Ward in September, two weeks later the finance partner confirmed he would stick with the firm.

However Paul Hastings has strengthened its bench over the past 18 months with the hires of Paul Severs from BLP and Duncan Woollard from King & Wood Mallesons. It also hired restructuring veteran David Ereira from Linklaters.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

For more on US firms in London see: ‘Global London overview: The eagle has landed’

Legal Business

Stay or go? Heavyweight Ward abandons Paul Hastings move to remain at Ashurst

Stay or go? Heavyweight Ward abandons Paul Hastings move to remain at Ashurst

Banking partner Nigel Ward is to remain at Ashurst after it was announced earlier this month he was to make a move to Paul Hastings.

In a rare turnaround, Ward has chosen to stay with the firm’s finance team. The Legal 500 cites him as a leading individual with experience in recapitalisation, restructurings and IPO crossover financing.

Ashurst chairman Ben Tidswell said he was ‘delighted’ Ward had chosen to remain at the firm, adding the decision ‘reflects Nigel’s deep relationships across our strong international platform and the confidence we all have about the opportunities for the firm going forward’.

A spokesperson for Paul Hastings said: ‘For reasons that must remain confidential, regrettably Nigel Ward’s move to Paul Hastings could not proceed. We wish him well.’

Ashurst also announced today (27 September) it has appointed infrastructure partner Vincent Casey to its New York office from Nixon Peabody. Casey acts for a broad base of clients across the infrastructure market, including in the transport, water, social infrastructure, airport and renewable energy sectors. He joins former Allen & Overy (A&O) banking partner Andrew Fraiser, who was appointed in July to head up the team.

Fraiser commented: ‘As a firm that has infrastructure as a strategic priority for its global business, I believe that there is a unique opportunity for us to become New York’s leading firm covering infrastructure across the Americas.’

However, the revolving door continues to turn at the Anglo-Australian firm: another member of its US team, energy partner Charles William, is leaving the firm to launch his own boutique. Williams, who advises on all aspects of the development, financing, acquisition and disposal of energy and infrastructure projects, joined the firm’s New York office from A&O in 2013.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk