Legal Business

Revolving Doors: OC, Paul Hastings and Reed Smith bulk out their City offerings as HSF loses legacy Freehills partner in Singapore

Revolving Doors: OC, Paul Hastings and Reed Smith bulk out their City offerings as HSF loses legacy Freehills partner in Singapore

Last week, Osborne Clarke, Reed Smith and Paul Hastings all expanded their City practices, while Clayton Utz hired Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF) Singapore real estate head.

OC expanded its private equity practice with Russell Van Praagh joining as a corporate partner from McDermott Will & Emery as the firm looks to improve on the 32 private equity transactions it carried out in 2013, with a total deal value of £1.2bn.

Van Praagh joined the US firm from ailing Dewey & LeBoeuf in April 2012, alongside partner Mark Davis. He focuses on private equity, venture capital and investment work for institutions, family offices and private individuals.

Meanwhile, US firms Reed Smith and Paul Hastings both made laterals in London. White & Case’s technology lawyer Ashley Winton quit to join Paul Hastings’ City corporate practice as the firm pushes to expand its London technology and privacy practice. Winton advises on technology, IP and antitrust with particular emphasis on European regulatory issues and will officially join the firm on 3 November.

Reed Smith expanded its tax, benefits and wealth planning group with partner Simon Gough, DLA Piper’s former head of UK Tax. He focuses on structured and asset finance transactions as well as contentious tax matters.

Caspar Fox, head of Reed Smith’s European tax practice, said: ‘Simon is a renowned figure in the tax market. His welcome arrival will bolster our European offering, providing immediate benefits to our clients across our key sectors of media, financial services and shipping. His expertise will dovetail neatly with our current practice and provide valuable additional resource to our team.’

And while Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) ramped up in Asia with a double Ashurst hire (reported last week), the firm also lost real estate head, funds-focused corporate partner Simon Taskunas.

Taskunas rejoins Clayton Utz in its Perth office, after he left and relocated to join legacy firm Freehills in Singapore in 2006. Alongside Taskunas, property partner Danielle Mildren is also joining the firm from Minter Ellison, where she was a senior member of the firm’s property team. 

Taskunas specialises in multidisciplinary real estate sector work for clients based in Asia Pacific including institutional fund managers. He has experience in advising on structuring and investments, M&A, joint ventures, leasing, finance and property developments. Mildren’s new role starts from this month, while Taskunas will join the firm in January 2015.

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

Paul Hastings and Weil Gotshal & Manges lead on German bank acquisition

Paul Hastings and Weil Gotshal & Manges lead on German bank acquisition

US firms Paul Hastings and Weil, Gotshal & Manges have won lead roles on the OCEAN Holding acquisition of German mortgage bank Düsseldorfer Hypothekenbank, from the US investor Lone Star, in what is the largest German bank takeover since the economic downturn.

Paul Hastings’ team advised the buyer and was led by Frankfurt partner and office chair Christopher Wolff, alongside corporate associates Christian Mock, Friederike Schröder and Fritz Kleweta, and of counsel Uwe Halbig on tax issues.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges advised Lone Star in the sale, with corporate partner Uwe Hartmann leading out of Frankfurt, alongside tax partner Jürgen Börst and corporate partner Heiner Drüke.

OCEAN Holding, managed by Dr Patrick Bettscheider and Attestor Capital, bought the German bank which has €12bn in assets, from LSF5 German Investments II LP, Delaware, and LSF5 Riverside Ltd. & Co. KG, – two companies of the Lone Star Group.

The Lone Star Group first acquired the bank in 2010 with the injection of over more €500m since then to strengthen the bank’s core capital position. The purchase agreement is subject to approval by the regulatory authorities.

Legal Business

Paul Hastings and Cleary advise on Marriott London Grosvenor sale and £200m buy-in of UK’s Victoria Plumb

Paul Hastings and Cleary advise on Marriott London Grosvenor sale and £200m buy-in of UK’s Victoria Plumb

The London offices of US firms Paul Hastings and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton are advising on the £125m sale of the Marriott London Grosvenor Square Hotel and the acquisition of a majority stake in British online bathroom retailer Victoria Plumb for around £200m respectively.

Top 35 Global 100 law firm Paul Hastings led by London real estate partner Jeff Diener is advising long-term client Strategic Hotels & Resorts on the sale of the 5-star Mayfair hotel to Hong Kong-based private equity firm Joint Treasure. The Paul Hastings team also includes London chair Ronan O’Sullivan and associate Matthew Poxon on corporate issues, and partner Arun Birla and associate Jiten Tank on tax issues.

Sackers advised Strategic Hotels on pensions issues while Forsters advised Joint Treasure.

The sale provides an exit from the European market for Strategic Hotels, and its chairman and chief executive officer Raymond Gellein said: ‘By closing on the sale of the Marriott London Grosvenor Square, we are finalising our exit of the European market, as previously committed. In addition, this sale will eliminate approximately $1.0 million of annual frictional costs associated with the asset and allow us to redeploy capital into one of the highest growth assets in our portfolio.’

Meanwhile, a London-based Cleary Gottlieb M&A team advised US private equity firm TPG on its £200m investment in Victoria Plumb, led by partner Sam Bagot with corporate associate Katja Armstrong. Partner Richard Sultman and associate Jennifer Maskell advised on tax matters and Colin Pearson advised on IP matters.

Members of the Walker family, who founded Victoria Plumb in 1999 and bought flat-pack furniture brand MFI from administrators in 2009 via Walker Capital, were advised by Wendy Harrison in DLA Piper’s Leeds office.

The Walkers will continue to co-own the company, which sells bathroom suites through mail order and its website.

Reported sales at the retailer last year jumped by 37.9% to £26.2m while pre-tax profits grew by a quarter to £6m.

Legal Business

Hires in London for MoFo and O’Melveny as Paul Hastings brings in Pfizer’s assistant GC

US firms have announced a number of senior hires in the last few days as Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) and O’Melveny & Myers turn to their rivals for partner appointments in London, while Paul Hastings’ New York office brings in Pfizer’s head of government investigations as partner.

At MoFo, former head of Reed Smith’s acquisition and leveraged finance practice in London, Philip Slater, is to join the top 30 Global100 firm’s financial transactions group as partner.

His arrival closely follows that of new London business restructuring & insolvency head Howard Morris, who joined the firm last November after 22 years at Dentons, where he held a number of senior management positions.

Notable transactions led by Slater include advising The Co-operative Group on all aspects of its £950million debt refinancing, including the associated repositioning of its interest rate swaps and capital markets debt.

Chair of MoFo’s financial transactions group, Jill Feldman said: ‘The addition of another finance partner in one of the world’s key financial centres is a crucial step in the overall strategic development of the financial transactions group.

‘The recent appointment of finance partners Jeremy Hunt and Marcia Ellis in Hong Kong, and Adam Summerly and Jake Robson in Singapore, has increased the need for regular English Law finance guidance in the Asian market. Phil’s arrival allows us to provide this service to clients and illustrates our continued commitment to developing the global capabilities of the group.’

Elsewhere, O’Melveny has bolstered its European transactions capability with the hire of acquisitions and private equity partner Daniel Oates from Kirkland & Ellis, who joins the London M&A practice.

Recent notable transactions for the Slaughter and May-trained lawyer include advising US adventure capital firm, Sequoia Capital, on its acquisition of a stake in UK-based airline ticketing business, Skyscanner.

O’Melveney’s chair Bradley Butwin said: ‘We’ve been steadily building our transactions platform over the past several years and Dan will help broaden our European transactions capabilities in a way that will positively impact our ability to assist clients with a far greater range of services. His strong background and M&A experience will add tremendous value to the existing work we’re doing for both private equity and corporate clients in London and globally.’

In New York, Paul Hastings yesterday (20 February) announced the hire of Pfizer’s former vice president, assistant general counsel (GC) and head of government investigations, Gary Giampetruzzi, as a partner in its New York office, continuing the firm’s expansion of its global compliance, investigations and enforcement practice.

Giampetruzzi held various posts during his 13 years at the American multinational pharmaceutical corporation, where his achievements including helping to originate the company’s global compliance program and leading its anti-corruption and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) programmes as a deputy compliance officer.

Barry Sher, chair of Paul Hastings litigation practice, said: ‘We represent leading life sciences companies across a range of complex matters, and Gary’s extensive experience with Pfizer…brings another key dimension to our practice.’

Giampetruzzi’s departure comes a month after it emerged that Pfizer’s high profile general counsel Amy Schulman had resigned, despite in July being named as head of vaccines, oncology and consumer healthcare business, a post she was expected to assume in the New Year.

Legal Business

SJ Berwin star David Ryland moves to Paul Hastings as US firms reap benefit of UK vets

SJ Berwin star David Ryland moves to Paul Hastings as US firms reap benefit of UK vets

Only four days after its merger went live with King & Wood Mallesons and SJ Berwin has lost leading real estate partner David Ryland to Paul Hastings in London, as US firms also continue to reap the benefit of offering better later life partner opportunities than their UK counterparts.

Ryland, who was the relationship partner for clients including Hilton and private equity fund Evans Randell, specialises in commercial real estate with a focus on UK and European property funds.During his 25 years at SJ Berwin he advised banks, fund managers, hotel operators and investors in the real estate, funds and corporate real estate sectors on investment mechanisms such a limited partnerships and offshore trusts.

‘Our partners in London have been involved in deals with David and have followed his career with admiration and respect,’ said Ronan O’Sullivan, chair of the London office. ‘Attracting partners of David’s outstanding reputation and experience is an important part of our strategy in London and we look forward to David working with all of our leading clients.’

Ryland’s departure mean SJ Berwin has lost two real estate partners in two months, after Pat Jones left for Mayer Brown in October. Another high profile exit later last month saw private equity partner Ed Harris join Hogan Lovells.

The departures come as SJ Berwin’s merger with King & Wood Mallesons went live on November 1, creating a partnership of 553 partners and 2,233 lawyers with 30 offices across Australia, China, Hong Kong and Europe, with former SJ Berwin partners predicting a period of further fallout.

However, Ryland is also one of a number of rated veteran UK partners to move to a US firm in London, including legacy Herbert Smith litigator Ted Greeno who joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in March this year, as US firms reap the benefit of a more relaxed attitude to retirement age and attaching a higher value to longevity of experience in the market’s leading players.

Legal Business

Paul Hastings: Paul Who?

Paul Hastings: Paul Who?

Ronan O’Sullivan joined the small London operation of Paul Hastings as a senior associate seven years ago; now he’s running the office. LB meets the man with plans to give the top-30 US firm the success it craves on this side of the pond

Paul Hastings’ Ronan O’Sullivan is an ambitious soul. Described by peers as ‘punchy and hard-charging’, the firm’s slick and charismatic London chair talks confidently about doubling the office’s 50-lawyer headcount in the next five years.

‘I think we’ve got to the stage in London where we are part of the community. We are doing very high-end work. The challenge for us is the next five to seven years,’ says O’Sullivan. ‘Doubling in size; that would be our expectation.’