Legal Business

Ex-A&O banking chief Bowden exits for Proskauer as US firm snaps up City finance quartet

A&O Shearman banking heavyweight Philip Bowden, the former co-head of legacy A&O’s global banking practice, has left the newly merged firm to join Proskauer as part of a four-partner raid by the US firm.

Bowden, who unsuccessfully ran for senior partner at A&O Shearman ahead of the transatlantic tie-up, is departing alongside acquisition finance partner Megan Lawrence, who made partner at A&O in 2022.

The pair will move to Proskauer, where they will join the global banking and finance team alongside two partners joining from Cahill Gordon & Reindell’s London office –  Jake Keaveny and Warren Newton, both of who are also A&O alumni.

‘We thank Philip and Megan for the contributions they have made to the firm and wish them all the best for the future’, an A&O spokesperson said in a statement.

For Cahill, the departures come after two other recent London partner exits, with leveraged finance duo Jonathan Brownson and Joydeep Choudhuri exiting for Latham & Watkins.

Executive committee chairman Herb Washer said in a statement: ‘We’re committed to expanding our corporate practice in London and we are currently evaluating our options to ensure the right fit for our team and our corporate clients. We thank them for their service to the firm’s clients and we wish them well in their future endeavors.’

In the wake of the A&O Shearman merger, Bowden had been appointed as one of the firm’s five private capital sector leads. He had been at the firm since 1999, making partner in 2002. He went on to co-head both the firm’s global banking and finance practice and its global leveraged finance group and is a Legal 500 leading individual for acquisition finance

Bowden had run for senior partner in two consecutive elections, losing both – to incumbent Wim Dejonghe in 2020 and to interim managing partner Khalid Garousha in 2024. He is the only one of the three senior partner candidates at pre-merger A&O without a seat on either the executive committee or the board at A&O Shearman. Garousha is senior partner and co-chairs both the board and the executive committee with Adam Hakki, who took over as senior partner at Shearman & Sterling last March, and now serves as A&O Shearman’s US chair.

The third contender, David Lee is now global co-head of project, energy, natural resources and infrastructure as well as an ExCom member.

The departures see Cahill lose the last of a clutch of ex-A&O lawyers it brought over in 2020-21. Legal 500 high-yield leading individual Keaveny joined Cahill alongside Brownson in summer 2020, while Newton came over in January 2021, joining the firm as a partner after leaving A&O as a senior associate. The US firm’s website now lists no banking and finance partners in London.

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: White & Case and Proskauer make antitrust plays as Paul Hastings raids A&O in New York

Leading several high-profile moves this week, White & Case has hired antitrust partner Michael Engel from Kirkland & Ellis in London. Engel, who is dual-qualified in the UK and Germany, had been a partner at Kirkland since January 2021 and, before that, was at Sullivan & Cromwell for a decade.

Engel advises on the full scope of EU, German and UK-governed competition issues.

Speaking to Legal Business about his new firm White & Case, Engel said: ‘The firm is well placed to advise clients as they respond to toughening competition scrutiny and enforcement, such as competition authorities finding new ways to take jurisdiction over transactions falling below traditional notification thresholds and looking at new theories of harm when assessing transactions for substantive concerns.’

Elsewhere in the City, Proskauer Rose has welcomed its sixth lateral partner this year with the hire of Mary Wilks into its M&A practice from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where she has spent almost 20 years. She will bring particular expertise in antitrust and competition law.

Wilks explained her decision to join Proskauer to Legal Business: ‘It’s a great combination, with Proskauer’s full service global platform and industry experience. It will allow the firm to continue delivering exceptional results for clients – especially as competition and other regulations are shifting and becoming more complex to navigate.’

Speaking of the market trends over the next 12 months, Wilks continued: ’It is a time of significant change and evolution in competition in foreign investment law.’

She pointed to the latest revisions to the Horizontal and Vertical Block Exemption Regulations, the EU’s new foreign subsidies regime and the UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, published this week.

‘With all this change, you need to factor in whatever regulations are going to apply to deal planning and execution, so that you can optimise your timing and outcomes,’ Wilks said.

Also in M&A, Fladgate has hired partner Tessa Trevelyan Thomas in London from BDB Pitmans. She will bring experience working on a range of domestic and cross-border transactions, including public takeovers, private equity investments and disposals, joint ventures and reorganisations.

Meanwhile, Cadwalader has expanded its global finance practice in London with the recruit of Smridhi Gulati to co-lead its leveraged finance and private credit group. Gulati joins from Dechert in New York where she was a partner, following a ten-year run at DLA Piper.

Speaking to Legal Business, Gulati noted: ‘The firm already has a wide bench of private credit clients and is completely committed to the growth of its leverage finance and private credit practice globally.’

On trends over the coming months, Gulati added: ‘As pressure continues on the banks and the capital markets, I expect that private credit will continue to expand its share of the leveraged loan market and keep pushing into the space that was previously only open to the capital markets.’

Simmons & Simmons has welcomed CMS partner Jonathan Thorpe for its insurance practice group in London. Thorpe brings with him several years of experience as head of claims and legal counsel for managing agencies for the world’s largest insurance market, Lloyd’s of London.

Elsewhere, Paul Hastings has been busy with recruitment in the US. The firm hired John Budetti as a partner and global chair of the investment funds and private capital practice in New York. He leaves behind a 17-year long career at Kirkland and Ellis, where he has represented private fund sponsors organising funds ranging in size from $75m to $5bn.

Paul Hastings has also set back Allen & Overy’s US ambitions this week, through acquiring the Magic Circle firm’s structured credit team. New-York based partners Nick Robinson and Tracey Feng – who have both spent around four years at A&O – will lead the team, which also includes several associates.

Also in the US, DLA Piper has hired Robert da Silva Ashley as a partner in its finance group and the firm’s regional co-leader. He joined from McDermott Will & Emery where he spent two years as a partner, after spending the majority of his career as a partner at Jones Day. Da Silva Ashley will split his time between the firm’s New York and Miami offices.

Elsewhere across the globe, Rebecca Kelly has rejoined Clyde & Co as a partner in its global regulatory and investigations practice in Dubai. She initially left the firm in 2014 to join Morgan Lewis as Dubai managing partner and to lead its Middle East regulatory and disputes team.

Finally, DWF has also bolstered its insurance team in the Middle East through the hire of Victoria Clucas and Bill Evans from Kennedys. The duo will serve as insurance partners in the firm’s Dubai office.

Legal Business

MoFo and Gibson Dunn take a partner each from Proskauer’s City practice


Following the news yesterday (20 August) that Proskauer Rose had hired from Dentons‘ private equity practice, the firm has lost two partners , one to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in private equity, and another in private investment funds to Morrison & Foerster (MoFo).

Oliver Rochman will join MoFo’s corporate practice as part of the firm’s push into European corporate capabilities and the expansion of its global private investment funds practice following the arrival of four corporate partners from Latham & Watkins.

Rochman joined Proskauer from SJ Berwin in 2011 with fellow funds partner Nigel van Zyl and six associates, in which was a large hire at the time. His practice focuses on advising international funds such as buy-out funds, infrastructure funds and funds of funds.

‘We have significantly invested in our UK Corporate practice over the last year, building a highly impressive group and deep bench of top tier partners and associates. Oliver is another important addition to the team,’ said Paul Friedman, Morrison & Foerster’s managing partner for Europe.

Meanwhile, James Howe will join Gibson Dunn’s London office, continuing his private equity and mergers and acquisitions practice at the firm.

Ken Doran, chairman and managing partner of Gibson Dunn said that continuing to build the firm’s transactional capability in London was critical to establishing the bench strength and visibility needed to achieve long term success in the UK and global markets.

Charlie Geffen, chair of the London corporate practice added: ‘James is a rising star in the London private equity arena. He has excellent technical skills, and the combination of his intellect, energy and ambition will ensure his success on our platform.’

Yesterday, Proskauer took private equity partner Eleanor Shanks from Dentons following a rapid scaling up of its private equity practice since the hire of City heavyweight Steven Davis from King & Wood Mallesons in 2014. This year, the firm has already added leveraged finance partner Ben Davis from Reed Smith and private equity real estate duo Jo Owen and Vikki McKay from DLA Piper in London. ‘Eleanor’s strong track record advising private equity players further strengthens our position in the industry as we continue to expand our presence in Europe,’ said Davis.

Legal Business

Akin Gump and Proskauer pick apart Dentons’ City private equity team


Two leaders in Dentons‘ private equity practice in the City have quit the firm, with Igor Krivoshekov departing for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Eleanor Shanks set to join Proskauer Rose.

Krivoshekov, who was a partner at now defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf before joining Dentons six years ago, has built a strong private equity practice handling oil and gas M&A during his time at the firm. He has been one of the leaders of Dentons’ PE practice in London, which over the last five years has improved its standing in the City market for mid-market deals.

Shanks, who worked closely with Krivoshekov, made partner at Dentons in 2014 after just two years at the firm. She started her career at Norton Rose Fulbright, before a six year stint at US firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

The hires come amid a rapid expansion of Akin Gump and Proskauer’s City offices, with Akin Gump expanding out its London private equity practice following its landmark takeover of now defunct Bingham McCutchen’s $50m London office in 2014. The bulk of the Bingham team was an esteemed restructuring practice headed by James Roome, Barry Russell and James Terry, but also contained a strong regulatory team. Earlier this year the firm landed Jones Day arbitration star Hamish Lal, who headed that firm’s construction group before his switch.

‘Igor will continue our recent growth trajectory in London and will be instrumental in the ongoing expansion of our international energy offerings,’ said Akin Gump chairperson Kim Koopersmith (pictured). ‘He advises on highly complex private equity transactions and, with his extensive history of deal making, will be an invaluable resource to our clients, particularly those in the energy space. I look forward to welcoming him to Akin Gump.’

Krivoshekov has handled deals across a swathe of jurisdictions, including the US, the UK, Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific region and Latin America. His clients include L1 Energy, an investment group set up by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s fund Letter One, Altera Capital, Partners Group and Aton Capital Partners. In early 2015 he and Shanks led for L1 Energy on its $5.7bn acquisition of RWE Dea, the oil and gas unit of Germany’s largest power generator, RWE. Akin Gump has also advised Letter One in the past, from its US offices.

Sebastian Rice, co-head of Akin Gump’s London office, added: ‘Igor has worked with leading private equity houses across Europe on some very significant transactions, in particular in emerging markets. His credentials across private equity, energy and emerging markets fit very well with the firm’s focus internationally, and we will be delighted to have him on our team.’

For Proskauer, the arrival of Shanks follows a rapid scaling up of its private equity practice since the hire of City heavyweight Steven Davis from King & Wood Mallesons in 2014. This year, the firm has already added leveraged finance partner Ben Davis from Reed Smith and private equity real estate duo Jo Owen and Vikki McKay from DLA Piper in London. ‘Eleanor’s strong track record advising private equity players further strengthens our position in the industry as we continue to expand our presence in Europe,’ said Davis.

Dentons said in a statement: ‘We have been steadily growing our corporate and private equity practice in the UK over the last few months with several key lateral partner hires, including David Collins – who now heads up the department – as well as Stephen Levy, Martin Mankabady, Nikolas Colbridge and Jonathan Cantor. ‘Under David’s leadership we continue to focus on strengthening our corporate and private equity offering to clients, and our capabilities, combined with our international reach, mean we are very well placed to take advantage of new opportunities in the market. We want to thank Igor and Eleanor for their contributions to the firm and wish them well.’

Legal Business

Proskauer makes major LevFin play with Reed Smith partner Ben Davis


US firm Proskauer Rose has hired leveraged finance partner Ben Davis from Reed Smith as it ramps up growth of its finance team in the City.

Davis leaves Reed Smith just two years after joining from Travers Smith, where he was promoted to partner in 2011. With Proskauer Rose growing its London arm around funds, private equity and finance, Davis’ practice, which is built up of alternative lenders, private equity sponsors and financial institutions, adds strength in a key area.

Focusing on both the mid-market and upper market, Davis has broad experience advising on unitranche loans, second lien facilities, mezzanine and high-yield bonds, as well as real estate finance.

Steven Ellis, co-head of Proskauer’s multi-tranche finance group, said: ‘Alternative lenders in the UK, and globally, require sophisticated legal counsel who truly understand their business objectives and can provide market insight on both sides of the pond.’

Davis’ arrival follows the recent additions of leveraged finance partner Alexander Griffith and private equity real estate duo Jo Owen and Vikki McKay from DLA Piper. Steven Davis, a big-name hire from King & Wood Mallesons where he once headed the firm’s European corporate practice, kick started the firm’s play for private equity M&A in London when he joined at the end of 2014.

The appointment of private equity deal doer James Howe from Kirkland & Ellis and Baker & McKenzie’s EMEA co-head of private equity Bruno Bertrand-Delfau followed in 2015.

‘Ben’s experience in leveraged finance matters fits perfectly within our corporate platform in London and globally, where we continue to serve asset managers in their most significant matters,’ said Mary Kuusisto, head of Proskauer’s London office.

Legal Business

Proskauer makes real estate push in London with DLA hire as Latham taps Kirkland in Asia for another PE specialist


Proskauer Rose has made a strategic play to capture work in London’s burgeoning real estate market with the hire of DLA Piper’s global co-chair of hospitality and leisure, Joanne Owen.

Owen specialises in corporate real estate and acts for hotel owners and investors including private equity owners. She advises hotel clients on operational issues that arise from management contracts as well as food and beverage outsourcing. Significant mandates include advising on the acquisition of a landmark building in the City of London for an Asian company for around £300m; and acting for Blackstone on its purchase of a pan-European portfolio of 18 logistics assets from SEB Investment.

The hire is Proskauer’s first step in developing a real estate offering in London, where it currently houses funds, M&A, capital markets, finance, restructuring, labour, and tax capabilities. The New York-headquartered firm has long voiced its ambitions to broaden its City practice and doubled its office space with a move to 10 Bishops Square in early 2015 before embarking on a recruitment drive.

Other notable laterals include private equity and leveraged finance partner Alexander Griffith from DLA Piper and Baker & McKenzie EMEA private equity co-head Bruno Bertrand-Delfau last summer, as well as Kirkland & Ellis corporate partner James Howe. M&A partner Matt Rees from Simmons & Simmons also made the move in 2015; and before that leveraged buyout lawyer Steven Davis, who joined in December 2014 from King & Wood Mallesons, having been head of corporate at SJ Berwin up until the firm’s merger.

Meanwhile, private equity partner Frank Sun has departed Kirkland & Ellis for a second time to join Latham & Watkins. Sun, who rejoined Kirkland three years ago after a spell at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison’s Hong Kong office, joins Latham’s corporate group in Hong Kong as it makes a push for Asian private equity work.

Sun’s client list includes key Latham clients, private equity houses The Carlyle Group and KKR, as well as CITIC Capital Partners. The move follows a global play to secure greater volumes of Carlyle work, with Clifford Chance’s co-head of private equity and key Carlyle contact David Walker arriving in London in 2013 to spearhead growth of Latham’s European PE practice.

With Asian growth high now up on Latham’s priorities list, Sun’s arrival follows the triple hire in Hong Kong of Clifford Chance M&A partner Simon Cooke, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer M&A counsel Amy Beckingham and Hogan Lovells leveraged finance partner Gary Hamp earlier this year.

Sun was previously an associate at Kirkland & Ellis’ New York office between 2007 and 2008. His practice involves China-focused transactions spanning private equity investments, private and public M&A, joint ventures and structured corporate financing transactions.

Michael Sturrock, vice chair of Latham & Watkins’ corporate group, said Sun’s hire ‘marks another important step in the expansion of Latham’s private equity and leveraged finance practices in Asia’. Having tackled New York and London, Latham tasked a group of partners led by New York-based Edward Sonnenschein to review its Asia strategy at the start of the year and the firm has since confirmed plans to launch in South Korea.

Simon Cooke, global co-chair of Latham’s private equity practice, added: ‘Frank adds another dimension to our private equity practice and further bolsters our China outbound capabilities. This will enable us to better serve both our greater China-focused private equity and corporate clients on their inbound and outbound deals.’,

Legal Business

Proskauer’s City hiring spree continues with DLA finance partner Griffith


Proskauer Rose’s rapidly expanding City office, which hired Baker & McKenzie’s private equity rainmaker Bruno Bertrand-Delfau last week, has bolstered its finance practice with DLA Piper’s leveraged finance and banking partner Alexander Griffith.

Griffith, having been at DLA Piper since he trained, resigned from the firm on Monday morning after long being pursued by the aggressively expansive US firm. In 17 years at DLA Piper, Griffith built up a strong leveraged finance practice servicing Lloyds Banking Group, Ares Capital, RBS and HSBC. He was made partner in 2007, having spent nearly a year on secondment to Barclays during his early years as an associate.

Having also built up a strong reputation in the private equity market following the financial crisis, with a retrenching in the lending market increasing the demand for non-bank lending, Griffith’s arrival at Proskauer follows a string of recent hires.

Since securing the move of Steven Davis, who led SJ Berwin’s City corporate team before its $1bn Sino-Australian merger and started in January, Proskauer has hired Bakers’ Bertrand-Delfau, Kirkland & Ellis’ M&A partner James Howe and Simmons & Simmons’ dealmaker Matt Rees.

To aid its rapid expansion in London, Proskauer took an 18,000 sq ft lease in Heron Tower late last year to double its office space and accommodate up to 100 lawyers.

Legal Business

Proskauer continues City ramp-up with Bakers’ private equity rainmaker Bertrand-Delfau


Intent on building out the firm’s private equity practice in London, Proskauer Rose has hired one of Baker & McKenzie’s highest earners in the City, EMEA co-head of private equity Bruno Bertrand-Delfau.

Bertrand-Delfau is relationship manager for private equity house Ardian, formerly known as AXA Private Equity. He is known for handling AXA Private Equity’s £460m purchase of a private equity portfolio from Barclays in 2011 when the bank was looking to improve its balance sheet and focus on its core businesses. Specialising in transactions work for private equity and sovereign wealth funds, Bertrand-Delfau is one of Bakers’ biggest billers in the City.

Having started his career in Paris, Bertrand-Delfau had spells as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Gide Loyrette Nouel before making partner at Ginestie Magellan Paley-Vincent in Paris nine years ago. Having joined up with Bakers’ Paris office in 2008, he transferred to the City in 2013.

Bertrand-Delfau co-heads Bakers’ 150-lawyers private equity group across Europe, the Middle East and Asia with Martin Frey, who will become the sole leader of the group.

Proskauer has ramped up its investment in its London office in the past 12 months, making a string of hires that includes M&A partner James Howe from Kirkland & Ellis and private equity duo Steven Davis and Matt Rees from King & Wood Mallesons and Simmons & Simmons respectively.

The recruits are part of a strategy to provide a bridge to Proskauer’s rainmaking investment funds team, headed by Nigel Van Zyl, which counts HgCapital as a major client. Proskauer, which currently has 41 lawyers in the Square Mile, took an 18,000 sq ft lease in Heron Tower late last year to double its London office space to accommodate up to 100 lawyers.

Legal Business

BLP launches US securities team with BAML director and former Proskauer partner


Berwin Leighton Paisner has made a double hire to start a US securities group in the City, hiring former Proskauer Rose partner Katherine Mulhern and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) director Bobby Schrader.

Mulhern and Schrader, who both join BLP as partners, will provide US securities advice crucial to the firm’s M&A, funds and structured debt offerings and represent a step-forward for the firm in building its corporate finance practice.

Schrader started at the firm after a decade working for BAML. During that time Schrader has had stints as counsel to the EMEA equity capital markets division and the global research business in London. He leaves the investment bank after having climbed to be assistant general counsel and director.

Mulhern, who will join the firm on 1 September, has stayed in private practice and brings experience of building US securities practices. She helped to establish Hogan Lovells’ EMEA US securities practice in the late 2000s and co-founded Proskauer Rose’s European capital markets practice in 2012.

Mulhern, who was of counsel at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before making partner by moving to Hogan Lovells, counts the London Stock Exchange and investment banks JP Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch as clients. She is currently acting as interim executive director at the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa after departing Proskauer Rose after just two years in January.

The duo, who take the number of corporate finance partners at the firm to 27, bring a book of contracts across the City’s investment banking outfits as BLP seeks to ramp up its coverage of underwriters executing transactions. The hires follow the firm’s appointment of financial regulation specialist Martin Sandler, who spent 10 years as head of the legal team at BAML on the advisory and public sell side.

Lisa Mayhew, managing partner at BLP, said: ‘There is a small pool of talented individuals in this particular marketplace but in Bobby and Katherine we have two people of high calibre with diverse experiences that give us the ability to advise clients at every level of the value chain in respect of capital market transactions in London.’

Mulhern added: ‘With the solid foundation already in place at BLP, I will look to strengthen existing relationships, bring in new contacts to the firm, and with the strong ECM team already in place, win additional work.’

Legal Business

City moves: Kirkland sees another exit as Proskauer hires Howe while Hogan Lovells builds its high yield offering with Dentons hire


Proskauer Rose has continued to build its London corporate offering, bringing in M&A partner James Howe from Kirkland & Ellis, while Hogan Lovells has strengthened its debt capital markets (DCM) team in the City with the hire of high-yield partner Sylvain Dhennin from Dentons.

Kirkland’s Howe joins as Proskauer builds its London office with recent private equity hires including Steven Davis and Matt Rees from King & Wood Mallesons and Simmons & Simmons respectively. He has experience in cross-border M&A and leveraged buy-outs, particularly in financial and business services, and technology.

Davis, who heads the UK M&A group commented: ‘It’s been an exciting few months at Proskauer. The firm is committed to growing its global M&A and financing platform and James’ arrival further strengthens our team in London.’

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson hired three Kirkland partners, led by Mark Mifsud, last week (27 May) as it also looks to build a signficant corporate offering in the City.

Meanwhile, after having lost banking specialist Stuart Brinkworth to Fried Frank two weeks ago, Hogan Lovells hired Dhennin into its finance practice from Dentons’ high yield group where he focused on bond and securities offerings in emerging markets. He joined Dentons from Gide Loyrette Nouel in 2012, having also worked in-house as assistant vice-president at JPMorgan Chase, where he dealt with French and German capital markets transactions within the DCM EMEA group and at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

High profile clients includes Société Generale and HSBC while recent mandates include advising automotive parts manufacturer Faurecia on its €500m 3.125% senior notes issue due 2022 as part of an overall refinancing.

Commenting on the firm’s latest hire, global finance practice head Sharon Lewis said: ‘The European high yield bond market has grown as a direct result of the financial crisis and corporates and funds are increasingly looking to this market as part of their financing arrangements. High yield is a specialised field in which only a small number of lawyers have gained real experience and Sylvain’s expertise will be invaluable in building our high yield offering in London.’

Other hires made by the firm of late includes Frankfurt-based senior corporate partner Matthias Jaletzke from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Paul Hastings’ project finance head Joseph Kim to its Tokyo finance practice; and Kirkland & Ellis corporate partner Steven Tran to the Hong Kong corporate practice in September.

Its City office did, however, see the resignation of Brinkworth, who is set to lead Fried Frank’s London finance offering with a mandate to build debt fund relationships.