Legal Business

US financials: Shearman partner cuts see PEP jump 18% as Sidley posts steady 3% revenue rise

US financials: Shearman partner cuts see PEP jump 18% as Sidley posts steady 3% revenue rise

Shearman & Sterling has boosted its revenue by 6% for 2016, sitting at $912m while Sidley Austin has seen more subdued results, with turnover up 3%.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) jumped substantially by 18% up from $1.84m to $2.17m. Lawyer headcount remained stable with an increase of six to 840. London’s lawyer headcount increased by five to 187 as City revenue was up by 14% increase to $169.7m.

The results will ease concerns over last year’s mixed financials where Shearman posted a 2% rise in revenues which reached $860m, but PEP partner dropped 4% from $1.9m to $1.84m.

In the second half of last year Shearman agreed to cut its equity partnership and saw a series of departures, including private equity head Mark Soundy, who left in October along with UK tax head Sarah Priestley. Shearman’s European grouping, led by project finance partner Nick Buckworth, did not hire any new partners in Europe in 2016.

Buckworth (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘We’ve had a much, much tighter view of our strategy, we’ve had strong leadership and as a result, just by being disciplined, you can see the results coming through. This is a firm that is very much on the up and we’re starting to really motor.’

When asked whether he expects more hires to be made in 2017, Buckworth added: ‘Scale is irrelevant. What we’re looking for is a growth that enhances Shearman & Sterling as a choice globally. Predominantly our growth will come from within, we have great talent here, and we’re always going to look at growth laterally in areas where we don’t necessarily have the internal, home-grown resource or in areas where we want to move the business.’

Meanwhile, Sidley Austin has posted a small revenue boost to $1.93bn, up around 3% on 2015. Profit per equity partner also crept up 3% to $2.13m while the firm saw a small increase in headcount to 1,836 from 1,779 and the total number of equity partners grew by four to 346.

The firm has made additional drives for European bench strength since the turn of the year, including an eight partner hire in Munich to significantly reinforce its European private equity offering.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

 

Legal Business

‘Significant in the post-Brexit market’: Shearman and Latham lead on Thomas Cook €750m high yield offering

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Shearman & Sterling and Latham & Watkins have advised Thomas Cook and the underwriting banks in the global travel specialists’ €750m high yield bond offering, guaranteed by various Thomas Cook subsidiaries. The offering comprised of 6.25% senior notes due 2022, and the proceeds will be used to refinance existing debt.

Shearman advised the lead underwriter Merrill Lynch International and co-managers DNB Markets and Lloyds Bank, alongside Société Générale, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Industriel et Commercial, Credit Suisse, KBC, Morgan Stanley, RBS and UniCredit. The banks were also advised in Europe by Allen & Overy, Cederquist and Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwälte.

Shearman’s team was led by European capital markets head Apostolos Gkoutzinis (pictured) and included finance partners Korey Fevzi and Ronan Wicks, tax partners Kristen Garry in Washington DC and Simon Letherman in London and capital markets partner Marwa Elborai.

Latham advised Thomas Cook and its various subsidiaries in the UK, New York, France and Germany, with a team led by corporate finance partners Tracy Edmonson and Christopher Hall. Thomas Cook was also advised in Europe by Simmons & Simmons, CHSH Cerha Hempel Spiegelfeld Hlawati Rechtsanwälte, Noerr Menzer and Törngren Magnell. Simmons’ team was led by regulatory partner France Wilmet in Belgium and capital markets partner Marieke Driessen in Netherlands.

Gkoutzinis said: ‘We were delighted to represent the underwriting banks, led by our longstanding clients BofA Merrill Lynch, DNB Markets and Lloyds Bank, on this very significant transaction for Thomas Cook, the corporate debt market in the UK, and the broader European market especially post Brexit.’

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

For more on Shearman see: ‘Can Shearman finally get ahead of the curve after 15 years of diminishing returns?’

Legal Business

‘An important step’: Shearman’s Soundy and Priestley resurface at Goodwin

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Goodwin Procter has confirmed Mark Soundy and Sarah Priestley are joining following their resignation from Shearman & Sterling.

Shearman’s former private equity head Soundy resigned in October after a three year stint. He was hired from Weil, Gotshal & Manges in a bid to establish the firm’s private equity offering in the City along with Priestley. Associate Simon Burrows also moved over from Weil to Shearman as partner at the same time but remains at the firm.

London-based Soundy focuses on UK and international M&A work, and has advised a number of institutional investors, international businesses and senior management teams while corporate tax specialist Priestley focuses on private equity and hedge funds. Soundy’s client base includes APAX Partners, Bridgepoint, GMT Communications and HgCapital/Mercury.

Goodwin Europe office chair David Evans (pictured) said: ‘Mark and Sarah are outstanding, highly experienced lawyers who will be terrific additions to Goodwin as we continue to build out our global private equity platform. Their appointment is an important step in ensuring that we continue to have a best-in-class private equity team that can represent clients across the UK, Europe, Asia and the US.’

Last month it was revealed King & Wood Mallesons’ (KWM) influential head of investment funds and major biller Michael Halford will also join Goodwin, a month after resigning from the troubled firm.

Major billers Ajay Pathak, Patrick Deasy, Ed Hall and Shawn D’Aguiar are also to sign with Goodwin. Part of the firm’s prized funds team, Pathak, Deasy and Hall are worth roughly £8m in billings.

Halford’s exit along with three other influential legacy SJ Berwin partners, Jonathan Pittal, Andrew Wingfield and Rob Day caused the firm to halt and ultimately fail in its plans to recapitalise the business, which is carrying more than £30m in debt.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Read more: ‘Can Shearman finally get ahead of the curve after 15 years of diminishing returns?’

 

Legal Business

Can Shearman finally get ahead of the curve after 15 years of diminishing returns?

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Georgiana Tudor assesses the New York-headquartered firm’s sluggish development

Like all major global law firms, Shearman & Sterling has had its reverses in recent years, albeit a few more than most. The fundamental question that has dogged the firm in Wall Street, London and Germany, is whether this proud US outfit is prepared to move quickly and decisively enough to convincingly get past those setbacks.

Legal Business

Brussels antitrust partner leave to exit Shearman as European exodus continues

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Shearman & Sterling confirmed today (11 October) that Brussels antitrust partner Trevor Soames has resigned from the firm.

Soames joined Shearman in 2011 from Howrey, together with the head of Shearman’s Brussels office Stephen Mavroghenis and EU competition lawyer Miguel Rato.

The trio were in talks with disputes firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in September, but Mavroghenis and Rato are now staying at Shearman.

Before joining Shearman, Soames was co-chair of Howrey’s worldwide antitrust practice and founded its Brussels office. His practice focuses on contentious cases including mergers, monopolisation, state aid and cartel investigations in Europe and the USA. His experience includes acting for major electronics brands Nokia and Samsung, and airlines such as Olympic Airways and United Airlines.

The resignation is the latest in a string of exits at the US firm, following private equity head Mark Soundy, London tax head Sarah Priestley and the acquisition and corporate finance duo Arnaud Fromion and Frederic Guillox in Paris, all in October.

Shearman and Soames had nothing further to comment at the moment, beyond confirming the resignation. Quinn also refused to comment.

In March Shearman posted global revenue up 2% to $860m, with the firm’s M&A group putting in a strong performance. Shearman’s City office again outperformed the rest of the firm, though only by a small margin this year, with revenue up 3% to $149m.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Shearman London tax head Priestley quits as exits mount for US firm

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Shearman & Sterling‘s London tax head Sarah Priestley has now also quit the firm, closely following in the footsteps of global private equity chief Mark Soundy who confirmed he is leaving the firm earlier this week.

Priestley joined Shearman’s private equity (PE) team as a partner in 2013 from Weil Gotshal & Manges, where she was head of the corporate tax group. She moved over with Soundy and Simon Burrows, who also joined Shearman from Weil Gotshal in 2013.

Priestly had been at Weil for over 15 years since 1997, before joining Shearman three years ago. Her practice focuses on UK, multi-jurisdictional and pan-European M&A and PE transactions. Clients include Advent International, APAX Partners, Bridgepoint and Electra.

Shearman declined to comment on the news, and Priestley was also unavailable to discuss the matter.

This is the latest in a string of exits this week from Shearman as Paris partners Arnaud Fromion and Frederic Guillox announced yesterday (October 6) they will join Goodwin’s private equity practice in Paris as of mid-October. Goodwin’s Paris practice opened this summer with six partners and specialises in M&A, leveraged buyouts, private equity and public-to-private transactions for French and foreign private equity funds.

In March Shearman posted global revenue up 2% to $860m, with the firm’s M&A group putting in a strong performance. Shearman’s City office again outperformed the rest of the firm, though only by a small margin this year, with revenue up 3% to $149m.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Shearman exits continue as Paris duo follow global head out the door

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Goodwin Procter announced today (5 October) that a team from Shearman & Sterling will be joining their private equity practice in Paris as of mid-October.

The move follows Shearman’s global head of private equity Mark Soundy confirming his exit earlier this week. It is not yet known where Soundy is headed next.

The incoming team includes partners Arnaud Fromion, Frederic Guillox and counsel Adrien Paturaud and specialises in acquisition and corporate finance. The team also acts for lenders and borrowers on ‘crossover’ and telecom financings.

Chair of Goodwin in Paris Maxence Bloch said: ‘We are delighted that Arnaud and Frédéric, together with Adrien, are joining Goodwin in Paris. Their talent and market-leading expertise, acting for both lenders and sponsors, adds further depth to our team and momentum in building out the firm’s private equity and M&A practices in Europe.’

The co-founder of Goodwin’s private equity practice John LeClaire added that the biggest asset that Fromion, Guillox and Paturaud bring to the firm is their deep experience in handling sophisticated financing structures. He said: ‘As we continue to expand our private equity footprint in Europe, we are excited to add this accomplished trio to the seasoned team we have in place in Paris.’

Goodwin’s Paris PE team was created just this summer, within a year of their new PE practice was set up in London after hiring King & Wood Mallesons’ Richard Lever. Opening with six partners and focused primarily in the middle market, the Paris practice specialises in M&A, leveraged buyouts, private equity and public-to-private transactions for French and foreign private equity funds.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Shearman private equity head Mark Soundy to exit firm

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Shearman & Sterling’s global private equity head Mark Soundy is to depart the firm after a three year stint.

Soundy moved to the firm from Weil, Gotshal & Manges in 2013 as Shearman looked to establish a private equity offering in the City. He joined the US firm along with Sarah Priestley, a corporate tax specialist focusing on private equity and hedge funds. Associate Simon Burrows also moved over from Weil to Shearman as partner at the same time.

London-based Soundy focuses on UK and international M&A work, and has advised a number of institutional investors, international businesses and senior management teams. His client base includes APAX Partners, Bridgepoint, GMT Communications and HgCapital/Mercury. He resigned from the firm last week.

Meanwhile, leveraged finance partner Arnaud Fromion, based in Shearman’s Paris office, is also set to leave the firm.

Earlier this year, New York-based Jeremy Dickens, the co-head of private equity left for McDermott Will & Emery after three years at Shearman.

In 2016, Shearman’s London office again outperformed the rest of the firm, though only by a small margin, with revenue up 3% to $149m. Deals carried out by the London office last year include two mandates for cable company Liberty Global, advising on its $8.2bn purchase of Cable & Wireless Communications and its investment in Lions Gate Entertainment, and a role advising the underwriters on ABN Amro’s €3.8bn IPO at the end of the year, the largest ever Dutch privatisation.

Over the past five years the City office has grown by 43% and accounted for 17% of the firm’s global revenue last year.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Quinn Emanuel in talks to take on Shearman’s Brussels partnership

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Disputes leader Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is in talks to hire a team from Shearman & Sterling’s Brussels arm, including office head Stephen Mavroghenis and competition partner Trevor Soames.

A total of five partners are negotiating with Quinn, constituting the entirety of Shearman’s Brussels partner ranks. With Mavroghenis leading the discussions, the other partners involved are Soames, Geert Goeteyn, Miguel Rato and Matthew Readings. Goeteyn and Readings are based in Shearman’s London and Brussels offices. It is expected that associates may follow the team to Quinn.

Soames, who specialises in merger control, monopolies, state aid and cartel investigations, joined Shearman in 2009 from the Brussels arm of the now-defunct Howrey, taking a team of four partners and 13 associates with him.

The Brussels office had previously proved to be a headache for Shearman, when earlier in 2009 it was left without a partner locally after antitrust lawyers Annette Schild and Silvio Cappellari departed for Arnold & Porter. News of the current Quinn talks were first reported on Rollonfriday.

Should the team sign on the dotted line, it will serve as a major boost to Quinn’s Brussels offering, which was launched in 2014. Despite by its expansive standards seeing a poor financial year globally in 2015, with revenue down 6% to $1.042bn and profit per equity partner falling 10% to $4.42m, Quinn continues its strategy of expansion via laterals.

Quinn bolstered its antitrust capabilities in London this year, having hired DLA Piper UK competition head Kate Vernon in March. Other laterals included Herbert Smith Freehills’ James Bremen as its chair of the construction practice and Clyde & Co litigator Paul Friedman as part of a bid to expand its Israel practice.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Shearman and Shepherd to battle out $5.6bn Cairn Energy tax arbitration against India

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Oil and gas exploration and development company Cairn Energy has picked lawyers from Shearman & Sterling and Shepherd and Wedderburn, as well as former India solicitor general Harish Salve, to bring a $5.6bn arbitration claim against India over a disputed tax assessment.

The claim has been brought through Cairn UK Holdings, a direct subsidiary of London-listed Cairn Energy, under a bilateral investment treaty between the UK and India. The arbitration will be seated in The Hague in the Netherlands with hearings set to begin in 2017. The disputes follows a tax crackdown by India on offshore subsidiaries, often demanded retroactively.

Cairn Energy bought a concession in the Indian state of Rajasthan for $7.5m in 2002 from Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell and subsequently discovered a vast oil deposit. The Scottish company sold a majority stake in Cairn India, which it had incorporated in Jersey, for $8.5bn to Vedanta, which is majority owned by billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Indian mining group Vedanta Resources.

Cairn’s long drawn out sale of its remaining 9.8% stake in Cairn India to Vedanta was blocked by Indian tax authorities on the grounds that Cairn owes the government $1.6bn in taxes on the original venture, as well as $2.8bn in interest.

Cairn said in a recent London Stock Exchange filing: ‘Cairn has also commenced international arbitration proceedings against the Republic of India under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty on the basis that India’s actions have breached the Treaty by (1) expropriating Cairn’s property without adequate and just compensation, (2) denying fair and equitable treatment to Cairn in respect of its investments and (3) restricting Cairn’s right to freely transfer funds in connection with its investment. Based on detailed legal advice, Cairn is confident that it will be successful in such arbitration.’

Shearman & Sterling’s team for Cairn includes London-based international arbitration partner Mark McNeill and San Francisco-based Robert Nelson. They are being supported by lawyers at UK firm Shepherd and Wedderburn and Indian firm S&R Associates, with Cairn having also enlisted Harish Salve, a former solicitor general of India, to wage its legal battle. Blackstone Chambers barrister Salve recently acted on a similar dispute with the Indian tax authorities, advising for Vodafone India on a $2.6bn dispute over unpaid capital gains tax currently in international arbitration.

tom.moore@legalease.co.uk

Read more on the oil & gas industry in: ‘Power struggles – the challenges facing counsel in the $5trn oil and gas industry’