Legal Business

Partner promotions: Ropes & Gray sticks with tradition as it makes up two in London

Partner promotions: Ropes & Gray sticks with tradition as it makes up two in London

Ropes & Gray  continues to promote London partners two-by-two, adding another duo in finance this year as part of a global promotions round of 12. The number of City promotions equals those made in the previous two years, while the overall total is up by one from 11 in 2016.

Derivatives and structured finance specialist Anna Lawry and leveraged finance lawyer Alex Robb will be made up on 1 November. Lawry joined Ropes in 2014 as counsel in its hedge funds group. She advises on derivatives in financing and corporate transactions, as well as regulatory developments affecting derivatives. Before joining Ropes, Lawry was an associate at Slaughter and May for 14 years.

Robb joined the firm’s finance group as counsel in 2013 and advises on domestic and international acquisition and corporate financing, as well as restructuring.

He has acted for investment and commercial banks, private credit funds, private equity sponsors and plcs. Before joining Ropes, Robb was a senior associate at  Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for four and a half years.

Two lawyers being made up in finance in London is notable given the firm lost two finance partners, Mark Wesseldine and Fergus Wheeler, to King & Spalding this summer.

Elsewhere, the lion’s share of those promoted were in the US, with Boston receiving three and New York and Washington DC gaining two and one respectively. Silicon Valley saw one new partner made up, while another will operate from both the San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices.

The Hong Kong office had two promoted, compared with one in last year’s round.

The promotions come as City partner Michelle Moran leaves Ropes to join K&L Gates as a partner in its investment management, hedge funds and alternative investments practice.

Moran had been an investment management partner in Ropes’ London office for four years after joining from Dechert.

nathalie.tidman@legalease.co.uk

For more on Ropes & Gray’s City practice read: ‘One man band: Can Ropes & Gray maintain the momentum without Allen?’

The full list of promotions:

Anna Lawry, derivatives and structured finance, London

Alex Robb, leveraged finance, London

Alison George, real estate, Boston

Kevin Jarboe, finance, Boston

Amy Roy, securities litigation, Boston

Joshua Lichtenstein, tax and benefits, New York

Bob Rivollier, private equity, New York

Adam Stella, executive compensation, Washington DC

James Davis, intellectual property litigation, Silicon Valley

Eric Issadore, private equity, San Francisco and Silicon Valley

Geoffrey Atkins, litigation, Hong Kong

David Zhang, government enforcement, Hong Kong

Legal Business

Skadden, White & Case, Freshfields, Simpson lead elite firms on Europe’s largest software buyout

Skadden, White & Case, Freshfields, Simpson lead elite firms on Europe’s largest software buyout

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and White & Case advised HgCapital as it led a consortium of investors purchasing €4.64bn of stakes in Norwegian software company Visma, in one of Europe’s largest ever software buyouts.

US buyout firm KKR is selling its entire €1.59bn stake in Visma, while private equity firm Cinven is selling 40% of its Visma holdings.

Private equity partners Richard Youle and Katja Butler, left White & Case last month to join Skadden in anticipation of the deal’s announcement. 

White & Case remain advisers to Hg on the debt component of the deal, with a team led by London’s banking partner Colin Harley and Brussels’s antitrust partner Pontus Lindfelt.

The investor group includes Intermedia Capital Group (IGC), Montague, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and Visma’s management team.

KKR is advised by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, alongside ABG Sundal Collier, Morgan Stanley, EY and OC&C, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, in a team led by Adrian Maguire and Victoria Sigeti, advised Cinven.

Ropes & Gray advised new client ICG, led by private equity partner Helen Croke and finance partner Malcolm Hitching, who led on the debt aspects of the deal. 

Linklaters advised Montagu with a team led by financial sponsors co-head Alex Woodward.

Oslo-headquartered Visma provides mission critical accounting, resource planning and payroll software to small and medium-sized businesses in the Nordic and Benelux region.

Before the deal, Hg, Cinven and KKR each owned a third of Visma. Following the deal, Hg will hold 41% of Visma, Cinven will retain a 17% share, while Visma management will hold 7%. The rest of the consortium will hold minority stakes.

Hg initially invested €114.8 million in Visma in 2006, completing a public-to-private de-listing from the Oslo stock exchange valuing the business at £382m at that time. HgCapital subsequently continued to hold a stake in the business over the following eight years, before re-investing again in 2014, alongside both KKR and Cinven, each holding 31.3% of the company at that point.

Between 2006 and 2016, Visma’s revenues grew at a compound annual rate of 17. The company completed more than 120 bolt-on acquisitions over the same period and improved operating margins from 15% to 25%.

Schjødt is advising HgCapital on Norwegian aspects of the deal and Wiersholm for Visma and the management team.

Private equity firms have been increasingly interested in software companies in recent years.

Marco.cillario@legalbusiness.co.uk

Legal Business

Ropes & Gray finance duo Wesseldine and Wheeler exit firm for King & Spalding

Ropes & Gray finance duo Wesseldine and Wheeler exit firm for King & Spalding

Ropes & Gray finance partners Mark Wesseldine and Fergus Wheeler have left the firm, for the City arm of King & Spalding.

Wesseldine joined from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in 2013, while Fergus Wheeler was made up to partner after moving from A&L Goodbody in 2014. The pair are both notable for their work for investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Wesseldine advises on a wide range of multi-jurisdictional leveraged buyouts, other complex ‘special situation’ financing and restructuring transactions while Wheeler has experience in all forms of direct lending, hybrid unitranche structures, leveraged acquisition financing and special situations.

King & Spalding London managing partner Garry Pegg said the arrivals almost double the firm’s finance practice in the City, which currently has three partners.

‘We are decently aggressive. This is part of a strategic push to strengthen our transactional practice in London, both in financing and corporate, so Mark and Fergus represent a fantastic fit with our existing M&A, capital markets, finance and private equity expertise. They don’t just do traditional direct lending, but also junior capital transactional credit funds and non-bank lenders areas. It also really fits well with our practice in the US and we have a lot of overlapping clients.

‘As a law firm and as an office, people understand we are on a growth spurt. We have headroom, momentum and we’re going places at a time when the market is a tough, overcrowded place.’

The departures are not the first for Ropes’ London office this year. In April, London based Ropes & Gray partner Chris McGarry left Ropes in favour of White & Case. His clients have included Virgin Media, Trafigura, Shop Direct, Lloyds, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Europcar, Bain Capital Credit, Blackstone/GSO, Investec and Jerrold Holdings.

In one of the biggest blows for the US firm’s City office, in November it emerged that Ropes’ London co-head and office founder Maurice Allen would retire from his role to become a consultant at the firm.

At the same time, it was revealed that Allen would serve as a consultant at DLA Piper to develop the firm’s finance sector strategy. By February, Ropes and Allen both confirmed that they had parted ways.

In May, Linklaters poached Ropes’ restructuring partner James Douglas, in London. A regular adviser to KKR Credit, Bartec and Peermont Group, Douglas joined Ropes in 2010 from New Zealand firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts. He was also previously been a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. In October, the firm hired leading finance lawyer Malcolm Hitching, Herbert Smith Freehills’ former UK and EMEA finance head, to London.

The Atlanta-bred King & Spalding has built a 23-partner London office, putting it just outside the top 40 largest City branches of US parents. The firm generated $1.058bn in the 2016 financial year, with average partner profits just under $2.5m.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

White & Case makes capital markets play with Ropes rising star Chris McGarry

White & Case makes capital markets play with Ropes rising star Chris McGarry

White & Case has continued to strengthen its capital markets capability bringing on London based Ropes & Gray partner Chris McGarry.

McGarry (pictured centre) joined Ropes as a partner from Weil, Gotshal & Manges in 2015. He was an associate at Clifford Chance and a vice president at RBS before moving on to Weil for three years. McGarry focuses on structured finance transactions, advising sponsors, issuers, arrangers and investors on securitisations and collateralised loan obligations including all types of asset-backed securities, residential mortgage-backed securities, trade receivables and esoteric asset classes such as commodities and TMT receivables.

Recently, McGarry advised Virgin Media on two innovative financings alongside Ropes’ co-head of global finance Jane Rogers and high-yield partner Robert Haak. The team raised £350m through the world’s first-ever issue of receivables financing notes through an orphan SPV, while the second deal was the first-ever handset securitisation seen in Europe. The transactions won the US firm finance team of the year at 2017’s Legal Business Awards.

McGarry’s other clients have included Trafigura, Shop Direct, Lloyds, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Europcar, Bain Capital Credit, Blackstone/GSO, Investec and Jerrold Holdings.

White & Case EMEA capital markets regional sector head Philippe Herbelin said: ‘Chris is an entrepreneurial, technically skilled, energetic and experienced lawyer who is held in high regard by his clients and has a growing profile in the London market. As well as building our capability in London, Chris is an excellent fit with our existing client portfolio as we continue to focus on growing our London-based financial sponsor, funds and large corporate clients.’

Last year White & Case took on capital markets partner Jonathan Parry from Ashurst. Parry made partner at Ashurst in 2010 and had since become one of the strongest partners in Ashurst’s well regarded ECM team. His client book includes London-listed fund JZ Capital Partners, New York investment bank Jefferies International and boutique investment bank Liberum Capital.

Going the other way, it was confirmed earlier this year that capital markets partner Josh Parbhu had left White & Case after 15 years.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Read more on the challenges ahead for Ropes in: ‘One man band: Can Ropes & Gray maintain the momentum without Allen?’

 

Legal Business

Revolving doors: DAC Beachcroft hires from DWF as Ropes partner quartet leave for Gibson Dunn

Revolving doors: DAC Beachcroft hires from DWF as Ropes partner quartet leave for Gibson Dunn

In another active week for lateral hires, firms have expanded their ranks in the UK and internationally. DAC Beachcroft has added to its Manchester office, while ARC Pensions Law, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and McDermott Will & Emery have all also made key hires.

Adding to its Manchester-based employment and pensions group, DAC Beachcroft has hired Philip Harman as a partner. Harman, who joined the firm on 3 April, was previously head of DWF’s employment practice.

DAC Beachcroft head of employment and pensions Alex Lock commented: ‘I am delighted to welcome Philip to the firm and we all look forward to working with him. His depth of knowledge and aspirational nature make him a very exciting new addition to our team.’

McDermott has expanded its London restructuring and insolvency practice, hiring Alan Gar from Simmons & Simmons. Gar arrives at McDermott as a partner, bringing with him significant experience in advising financial institutions on restructuring and insolvency matters. Gar’s appointment follows a string of similar hires in the last year, with the firm appointing Piero Carbone, Michael Holter, Gary Howes and Alicia Videon into its corporate and transactional practice.

Head of McDermott’s London office Andrew Vergunst said: ‘His appointment will continue to build upon the positive momentum taking shape in London. Adding another quality lateral will enable us to further expand our client offering.’

ARC Pensions Law has also added depth to its London office by bringing in Gowling WLG’s partner Jane Kola. Kola, who is a specialist in defined contribution pension schemes, joined the firm on 18 April.

Kola said: ‘I’m convinced that the boutique law firm solution is the best for trustee and corporate clients alike, when it comes to specialist services like pensions.’

Elsewhere in the UK, Mishcon de Reya has hired Alessandra Buonfino as head of international development. Buonfino joined the firm this week, after previously acting as the head of GREAT investors programme and deputy director of the department for international trade.

In Hong Kong, Gibson Dunn has hired a four-partner team from Ropes & Gray. Among the partners moving to Gibson Dunn are the firm’s Hong Kong managing partner Paul Boltz. Joining him are private equity partners Scott Jalowayski and Brian Schwarzwalder and banking partner Michael Nicklin.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Cutting the cord – Allen severs Ropes ties to focus on new role as DLA Piper continues finance push

Cutting the cord – Allen severs Ropes ties to focus on new role as DLA Piper continues finance push

Raconteur, rainmaker and serial legal entrepreneur Maurice Allen is to phase out his ongoing role with Ropes & Gray to focus on his new post at DLA Piper, after admitting it was ‘difficult’ to work for both firms as a consultant.

Allen, who was Ropes & Gray’s London office founder and senior partner, was originally planning to remain as a consultant at the Boston-bred leader while also joining DLA as a consultant to develop the client side of the firm’s finance practice.

However, speaking to Legal Business, Allen said: ‘To be honest the role with Ropes & Gray has come to a head. We effectively decided I can’t do both. With the benefit of hindsight that is probably the right outcome. I am very loyal to Ropes, but going forward I will just be working with DLA and not with Ropes. It would have been too difficult to do both. Ropes have been fantastic. They generally tried to help enable me to do different things. We part as very good friends.’

In January a spokesperson at the top 20 US law firm said the move had been under discussion for some time and that Ropes was ‘comfortable with Maurice working on a consultancy basis for both firms, so long as the consultancies are scoped and more importantly, will operate on a conflict-free basis’.

However, it was apparent that the move has caused some unease at Ropes with some insiders not expecting the finance rainmaker to fit in another legal role into an already crammed CV that includes stints at Clifford Chance (CC), Weil Gotshal & Manges, White & Case and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Allen, who starts the part-time role at DLA Piper on 1 March, will report to Charles Severs, managing director of practice groups and Jan Geert Meents, managing director of sectors and clients. The move comes as DLA has directed substantial investment in recent years into its finance practice to upgrade the practice beyond its roots as a mid-market deal finance and restructuring shop.

Describing his brief at DLA, Allen added: ‘My role is to continue in a sense the role I had at Ropes in the last couple of years, which is to be client-facing. It is having an overview of the relationships globally, seeing where the natural fit is. And then I usually will be able to find some point of access to a client if the firm is interested in that client. Or different points of access if they already have a relationship.’

A Ropes & Gray spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that Maurice Allen’s consultancy with Ropes & Gray has come to end.  After discussion, it was agreed that Maurice’s consultancies with ourselves and DLA could not operate on a sufficiently conflict-free basis.  As a result, it was mutually agreed that Maurice should end his consultancy with us. He remains, however, a friend of the firm and we thank him for his significant contribution to the firm and wish him all the best with his future career.’

Allen announced his retirement as a partner at Ropes at the end of last year, and the 1,100-lawyer US firm has no current plans to replace him in role of UK senior partner, created in July 2014 when the dual role of co-managing partner shared by Allen and Mike Goetz was split.

Following his then trailblazing move from CC to Weil Gotshal in 1996, Allen has for 20 years been one of the most high-profile finance lawyers in the Square Mile with a career marked by restless team-building and a 30-year charm offensive directed at the City’s most coveted finance clients. With the exception of an unhappy post-White & Case move to Freshfields, he presided over a series of successful growth stories, culminating at Ropes, which saw its City revenues rocket from a 2010 launch to $83m in 2015.

Allen’s clients have included borrowers such as Liberty Global, Ahold and Bain Capital; and lenders such as Highbridge, Ares, Sankaty, CVC Credit, MV Credit and AMB. Bank clients have included Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

Speaking to Legal Business in 2013, Allen said: ‘I was very lucky that Ropes & Gray came along, otherwise I could have reached a low point at Freshfields. But no more moving now – this will be my last home.’

Who’d take that bet?

Kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

For more on Ropes & Gray’s City ambitions click here (£)

Legal Business

One man band: Can Ropes & Gray maintain the momentum without Allen?

One man band: Can Ropes & Gray maintain the momentum without Allen?

Madeleine Farman and Victoria Young ask the firm’s leaders about growth in the City.

Ropes & Gray’s rapid growth in London is an ascent which any newcomer would aspire to. Although the Boston firm was late to the party when it officially opened in 2010, its sole European base has enjoyed an impressive upward trajectory. Revenue was up by almost a third in 2015 to $83m, a successful result on the back of a 30% increase in 2014 when City turnover was $64m.

Legal Business

Q&A: Ropes’ private equity player Phil Sanderson on US firms, Travers Smith and Maurice Allen

Q&A: Ropes’ private equity player Phil Sanderson on US firms, Travers Smith and Maurice Allen

Legal Business discusses working in a US firm and predictions for the market with Ropes & Gray‘s star private equity partner Phil Sanderson.

Why did you decide to join Ropes & Gray?

Ropes is an international private equity practice of some substance. The Ropes strategy is very much built around acting for sophisticated investors. When I met them over the course of some time I was convinced that their platform was the right one for me and that they understood me when I was talking about my private equity practice in Europe.

How competitive is the UK market at the moment?

Increasingly private equity has become a more mature asset class with different strands, so not just pure buyout work – it could be special situations work, long term work, infrastructure work, debt funds. All of these platforms mean the advice private equity houses are looking for from its core providers is much more sophisticated than just the relationship with the key private equity partner. It means that there are fewer firms that can provide that kind of service.

What are the key trends in the private equity market?

This year will be a strong M&A/private equity year. A certain number of deals have been pushed into 2017 because of the Brexit referendum that meant that certain processes were delayed. But after the summer clients were saying “let’s get on with those deals”. At the same time there’s a dynamic where sellers who would have been selling their businesses in 2018 are starting to say “isn’t 2017 going to be a better year?” Because some of the unknowns about the market will become clearer and that may make it slightly more risky to hold off selling.

You were at Travers Smith, what’s the difference between working for a US firm and a UK firm?

It is almost inevitable working at an American firm that you have to break through the barriers of some of the silos that are created within law firms. Because to make an international law practice work, you have to look at clients and sectors and look at where each geography, each practice area can add value to that particular client or that particular sector. That almost has to happen to make an international American firm work well.

Should UK firms be worried about US firms making an impact in the market?

Yes. We’re already seeing signs of UK firms struggling and failing. The high class silver circle firms can thrive in the market that we have but they will have to be very thoughtful about how they move forward, about the international piece, about how they can provide the full international level of service to their particular global sectors.

What piece of advice would you give to new associates coming through?

To find opportunities as much as possible, to look beyond the day-to-day legal work and understand exactly what clients are asking for and potentially what they should be asking for.

What will Maurice Allen’s departure mean for Ropes?

He’s already done so much for Ropes. His legacy is strong. There are lots of people, like me, who will take on the baton for the next generation as well.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Maurice Allen to advise DLA Piper while remaining consultant at Ropes

Maurice Allen to advise DLA Piper while remaining consultant at Ropes

Maurice Allen, Ropes & Gray‘s UK office founder and former senior partner is to join DLA Piper on 1 February as a consultant to develop the firm’s finance sector strategy.

As well as remaining as a consultant to Ropes & Gray, Allen (pictured) will report to Charles Severs, managing director of practice groups and Jan Geert Meents, managing director of sectors and clients at DLA.

A spokesperson at Ropes & Gray said the move had been under discussion for some time, and the firm was ‘comfortable with Maurice working on a consultancy basis for both firms, so long as the consultancies are scoped and more importantly, will operate on a conflict-free basis.’

Allen announced his retirement as a partner at Ropes & Gray at the end of last year, and the firm has no current plans to replace him in role of senior partner, created in July 2014 when the dual role of co-managing partner shared by Allen and Mike Goetz was split.

Allen is a seasoned finance lawyer, working at Clifford Chance, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and White & Case before joining Ropes & Gray with Goetz to spearhead the launch of the firm’s London office in 2009.

His clients have included borrowers such as Liberty Global, Ahold and Bain Capital; and lenders such as Avenue, Highbridge, Ares, Sankaty, Partners Group, CVC Credit, MV Credit and AMB. Bank clients have included Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

Speaking to Legal Business in 2013, Allen said: ‘I was very lucky that Ropes & Gray came along, otherwise I could have reached a low point at Freshfields. But no more moving now – this will be my last home.’

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Read more: ‘Life during Law – Maurice Allen’

Legal Business

Ropes UK office founder Allen to retire at the end of the year

Ropes UK office founder Allen to retire at the end of the year

Maurice Allen, Ropes & Gray‘s UK office founder and senior partner is to retire at the end of this year. An internal memo announcing Allen’s intention to retire was sent out around the firm’s office today (1 November).

There are currently no plans to replace him in role of senior partner, created in July 2014 when the dual role of co-managing partner shared by Allen and Mike Goetz was split. A spokesman for  Ropes said Allen will remain a consultant at the firm.

Allen (pictured) is a seasoned finance lawyer, working at Coward Chance, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and White & Case before joining Ropes & Gray with Goetz to spearhead the launch of the firm’s London office in 2009.

His clients have included borrowers such as Liberty Global, Ahold and Bain Capital; and lenders such as Avenue, Highbridge, Ares, Sankaty, Partners Group, CVC Credit, MV Credit and AMB. Bank clients have included Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

Speaking to Legal Business in 2013, Allen said: ‘I was very lucky that Ropes & Gray came along, otherwise I could have reached a low point at Freshfields. But no more moving now – this will be my last home.’

Legal Business‘ 2015 US Law Firm of the Year, Ropes & Gray, saw its London headcount jump 37% in 2015, underlining the firm’s City ambitions. Last year it signed a deal to move to larger offices in London, nearly doubling its current space in line with its ambition to have 150 lawyers in the UK by 2017.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Read more in: ‘Life During Law – Maurice Allen’