Legal Business

‘A true asset’: Travers Smith private equity star Phil Sanderson set to join Ropes & Gray

‘A true asset’: Travers Smith private equity star Phil Sanderson set to join Ropes & Gray

City firm Travers Smith has lost heavyweight private equity partner Phil Sanderson who is set to join US firm Ropes & Gray. 

It is known that Sanderson, who trained at Travers Smith and became a partner in 2001, was also in talks with US firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and a Magic Circle firm.

As a member of the firm’s private equity group since its inception, his move will be viewed as a substantial loss to the practice. High profile clients of Sanderson includes designer shoe label Jimmy Choo, and major investors Phoenix Equity Partners and Exponent Private Equity.

The longstanding partner had recently stepped down from his role as head of private equity after the top-45 firm carried out a management overhaul. Succeeded by fellow private equity partner Paul Dolman, other changes saw financial services head Margaret Chamberlain, real estate head Julian Bass and banking and corporate recovery head Jeremy Walsh also step down from their respective management roles.

The traditionally independent City firm also lost leverage finance partner Ben Davis in March, after he moved to US firm Reed Smith’s London office.

Alfred Rose, head of Ropes & Gray private equity transactions practice, said: ‘Phil Sanderson will be a true asset to the firm’s private equity practice, both in London and globally.  His broad skill set and market reputation enhance our service offering to our sophisticated corporate, hedge fund and private equity clients.’

Maurice Allen, London senior partner, added: ‘Our sophisticated clients’ business needs have rapidly evolved.  Phil’s arrival will give us more capacity to not only serve our client base but also build on existing opportunities presented to us.’

Sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

US firm Ropes & Gray has reshuffled its City management in a bid to re-focus capabilities across Europe

US firm Ropes & Gray has reshuffled its City management in a bid to re-focus capabilities across Europe

Five years on from the launch of its London office, co-managing partners Mike Goetz and Maurice Allen will split from their dual role with Allen appointed to the newly created role of senior partner. Goetz continues as London head and co-head of the firm’s finance practice alongside Jay Kim in New York and Byung Choi in Boston.

Allen will focus on client and business development, recruitment and the firm’s European strategy while also remaining involved in client work, including Liberty Global and Bain Capital.

The new role comes as the firm sets up a strategy to develop its European offering focused on building new practice areas in London that run adjacent to existing ones and strengthening the firm’s relationship with clients doing business in Europe.

‘London is very much part of our global network and strongly links to our offering in Asia and the US,’ say Allen. ‘Around one-third of our lawyers in the US are litigators so we are considering whether we need more litigators in London.’  

The firm is also considering whether to expand its City corporate and finance capability by adding an equity capital markets and structured finance offering on the back of growing client demand. The concept forms part of the firm’s wider strategy of targeting businesses that have a US/European element.  

Ropes & Gray has already expanded its investment management offering in London with the recent hire of Monica Gogna from Pinsent Masons who joins in August, and Dechert partner Michelle Moran who joined last year. The firm is also planning to grow its government enforcement practice specifically to boost its anti-bribery offering.  

Because the firm does not have any European offices outside of London, it regularly uses local firms, as well as larger international firms, to cover regions where it is not based. For example, the firm frequently uses Gleiss Lutz, Hengeler Mueller and Noerr in Germany, but worked alongside Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to advise on Liberty Global’s £5.7bn acquisition of Dutch cable operator Ziggo.

The firm has four offices across Asia and aims to open a further outpost in Beijing in the near future. 

Jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Life During Law: Maurice Allen

Life During Law: Maurice Allen

In 1980 I went from doing conveyancing in Manchester to international finance at Coward Chance (CC). The banking practice at that time had around five partners and we were left to our own devices. I got to spend a lot of time with clients, one of which was Citibank, where I went on secondment in 1984 – there were no in-house teams at that time so I was the only lawyer there. At that time, Chase Manhattan Bank was one of Allen & Overy (A&O)’s key clients. I remember going back to my senior partner at CC and saying I thought we could get a lot of work from Chase, and I was told not to bother. But I gave it a go and, eventually, they became one of CC’s biggest clients.

Legal Business

Ropes & Gray lands marquee role in GSK Chinese bribery investigation

Ropes & Gray lands marquee role in GSK Chinese bribery investigation

Even in an age in which corporate investigations have become some of the most sought after work for legal advisers, Ropes & Gray has secured a notable role with the US law firm instructed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to lead an investigation into claims that some staff in the pharma giant’s Chinese operations engaged in bribery.

Chinese authorities have arrested four GSK executives, including senior Chinese legal counsel Zhao Hongyan, amid allegations that GSK staff have attempted to bribe doctors to use the company’s medication.

Abbas Hussain, GSK’s president of Europe, Japan, emerging markets & Asia Pacific, said this week: ‘I want to make it very clear that we share the desire of the Chinese authorities to root out corruption wherever it exists. We will continue to work together with the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and we will take all necessary actions required as this investigation progresses.’

GSK chief executive Sir Andrew Witty also on Wednesday (24 July) said at a results presentation that the FTSE 100 company would be moving to improve its internal controls.

A spokesperson for the 1,000-lawyer Ropes confirmed that partners Colleen Conry and Brien O’Connor, heads of the government enforcement group based in Boston, are involved in the investigation with a number of other lawyers. Conry and O’Connor were involved with winning an acquittal for a senior GSK official who was prosecuted in 2011 over allegations of false representation in a government investigation into the marketing of anti-depressant Wellbutrin.

It is unclear if GSK is set to face scrutiny in the UK for potential breaches of the Bribery Act, which covers UK company’s foreign outposts. GSK said in a statement that it is reviewing all third party agency relationships and also reviewing its compliance procedures in China.

The high stakes mandate underlines the growing demand from bluechips for internal investigations, with Linklaters recently being instructed by UK security firm G4S over claims that it had been over-charging for services . The dramatic growth in the practice area and white collar crime in general has been driven by the tougher enforcement stance among prosecutors and watchdogs in many countries in recent years, in addition to an increasing willingness by regulators to co-operate internationally.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Ropes & Gray boosts London and Hong Kong with double Fried Frank hire

Ropes & Gray boosts London and Hong Kong with double Fried Frank hire

Ropes & Gray is to bolster its City and Hong Kong arms with a two-partner hire from US rival Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson.

In London former Allen & Overy finance partner Mark Wesseldine will join from Fried Frank on 1 May, bringing the City partner and counsel total to 20, while Fried Frank capital markets and M&A partner Victoria Lloyd is to join the Hong Kong office on 13 May.

Wesseldine has over ten years’ experience advising clients in the European leveraged finance market on complex cross-border financings and restructurings. He acts for lenders, borrowers and private equity sponsors and has recently advised credit investors and special situation funds.

‘We work with highly sophisticated investors and Mark’s experience in complex cross-border work will enable us to continue to service that market to a high level.’

Lloyd, meanwhile, focuses on advising clients, including issuers and underwriters, on equity capital market and M&A transactions – said by Ropes & Gray to complement its emphasis on M&A, private equity and capital markets in the region.

London office co-head, Mike Goetz, said of the London hire: ‘We work with highly sophisticated investors and Mark’s experience in complex cross-border work will enable us to continue to service that market to a high level.’

‘Mark’s addition rounds out a significant team that enables us to provide clients with a complete spectrum of services from banking and high-yield through mezzanine, direct lending and special situations/restructuring, all operating as part of an integrated practice,’ added Jay Kim, partner and co-head of the firm’s global finance practice.’

francesca.fanshawe@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Mike’s Mechanics

Mike’s Mechanics

White & Case sent Mike Goetz to London in 2000 to take its City finance practice to a new level. Thirteen years – and two law firms – later, he’s still one of the biggest names on the London scene. LB meets a banking legend.

Ropes & Gray’s London office has just turned three years old and more than a few cynics didn’t expect it to last that long. Former White & Case finance partners Maurice Allen and Mike Goetz had just spent a disastrous 18 months at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before announcing that they would be fronting the Boston-based private equity firm’s London offering in 2009. The aftershock of the collapse of Lehman Brothers was in full effect and Allen and Goetz had failed in their quest to build a strong transactional banking practice at Freshfields to rival Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy.

Legal Business

Travers Smith launches review of US best friends network

Travers Smith has always been one to plough its own furrow and last month the firm confirmed it was reviewing its roster of US best friend firms.

The corporate powerhouse is reviewing its line-up in the wake of a raft of US firms strengthening their own London offerings.