Legal Business

Ashurst finance partner Simon Thrower latest to leave with move to Simmons

Ashurst finance partner Simon Thrower latest to leave with move to Simmons

Ashurst finance partner Simon Thrower has quit to join Simmons & Simmons’ City practice within days of the announcement that corporate partner Nigel Stacey is leaving for US firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Thrower is leaving the top 20 firm after 15 years as a partner, after he joined the firm as a senior associate in 1996. Before this, he was a solicitor at Allen & Overy for eight years.

At Ashurst, Thrower was a member of the European banking group and specialised in domestic and international finance transactions, with a focus on corporate and leveraged acquisition finance, syndicated corporate debt facilities and debt restructuring.

He recently advising Johnston Press on its £360m capital refinancing plan in May, and advised the lenders – HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&G Investments, Rabobank International, London Branch and Santander UK – on the refinancing of Caffé Nero worth £278m.

Thrower is the sixth partner to leave Ashurst in recent months following Stacey and Jonathan Earle’s move to Gibson Dunn; fellow finance partner Nick Benham who joined Davis Polk & Wardwell to launch the US firm’s English law finance practice; and corporate head Stephen Lloyd and private equity partner Karan Dinamani who joined Allen and Overy.

A spokesperson at Ashurst said: ‘Simon is a hard-working lawyer who has made a significant contribution to the banking practice since he joined the firm. We wish him well.’

jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: HSF’s Rosen QC returns to the Bar; laterals for Weil Gotshal; Simmons; Rosenblatt and Payne Hicks

Revolving Doors: HSF’s Rosen QC returns to the Bar; laterals for Weil Gotshal; Simmons; Rosenblatt and Payne Hicks

The latest standout lateral moves have seen Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF) former advocacy chief Murray Rosen QC return to the Bar, as Weil Gotshal & Manges boosts its City finance practice, Simmons & Simmons expands in Bristol, with further partner hires at Rosenblatt Solicitors and Payne Hicks Beach.

Rosen, former advocacy head of HSF, is to join 4 New Square in September. He joined HSF in March 2005 from 11 Stone Buildings to launch its advocacy unit and co-manage the team alongside Ian Gatt QC, who joined the firm from Littleton Chambers the following month. Gatt will continue to head the advocacy unit.

Rosen resigned from HSF in January 2014, announcing he would leave in April and return to the Bar, at which time HSF looked to Maitland Chambers for a rare silk hire, appointing Tom Leech QC as a partner in its City advocacy group.

Rosen’s hire will be a further boost for 4 New Square, which recently turned to White & Case for the hire of partner Paul Cowan, who joined the set after 11 years as partner at the US firm in London.

In his new role, Rosen will resume practice as an arbitrator, mediator and senior advocate. Rosen was appointed as a QC in 1993. He has experience of advising on cross-border commercial, fraud and offshore disputes.

Rosen said: ‘I am pleased to be joining 4 New Square, which is a diverse and forward-thinking set in the areas which most interest me. I see this as a great opportunity to extend my practice as an arbitrator and mediator, whilst continuing as advocate and consultant in commercial Chancery and sports and media work.’

Meanwhile, Weil, Gotshal & Manges has boosted its City finance practice with the hire of banking partner Reena Gogna who leaves Latham & Watkins after eleven years.

Gogna focuses on advising lenders and sponsors on acquisition finance transactions with a particular focus on bank and bond structures. She joined Latham in 2003 and was a solicitor at Slaughter and May before then.

The hire follows the departure of one of the best-known names in the leverage buyout market, banking head Stephen Lucas, who left Weil’s City practice to join Kirkland & Ellis in May.

The recruitment also follows some key recent hires including restructuring heavyweight Andrew Wilkinson from Goldman Sachs who joined Weil in April, and Hogan Lovells partner Chris McLaughlin who joined the firm’s banking and finance practice in January.

Gogna’s addition will boost the firm’s banking team further, which currently houses around 40 lawyers. One of her recent deals includes representing Mersin International Port in relation to the $450m project debt refinancing for the joint venture between Turkey’s Akfen Holding and Singapore’s PSA International, in connection with Turkey’s first infrastructure bond.

London managing partner Mike Francies said: ‘We are delighted Reena is joining the team. Her experience acting for lenders and sponsors is a perfect fit with our growing finance practice, which has some of the best leveraged finance, high yield and structured finance partners in the London market. In the last week alone we have received instructions on a number of new matters reflecting the strength of the team and the depth of the partner bench. Reena will only make that stronger.’

Another recent move saw Simmons & Simmons expand its Bristol-based corporate practice with partner Jocelyn Ormond who joined from DAC Beachcroft. Ormond joined DAC Beachcroft in 2006 from Allen & Overy, where he was an associate.

Ormond has experience of advising corporate and commercial matters, with a focus on M&A and equity fundraisings, covering the life sciences, healthcare and financial services sectors.

Simmons & Simmons corporate and commercial international practice head Mark Curtis said: ‘Jocelyn Ormond’s arrival marks a further milestone in the expansion of our corporate practice. His extensive experience of M&A and equity fundraisings for life sciences and other healthcare companies and financial institutions and on cross border matters will be invaluable to our international practice.’

Meanwhile, Rosenblatt Solicitors recruited Caroline DeLaney as a partner specialising in real estate disputes and Bruno Fatier as a partner specialising in financial services.

DeLaney joins from Kingsley Napley, which she joined in 2012 and headed the real estate disputes practice. Prior to this, she worked in the same role at CMS Cameron McKenna in 2000. She has experience in commercial property, residential and agricultural disputes, and acting for institutional investors, high net-worth individuals, retailers, public bodies and insolvency practitioners.

Fatier was at Clifford Chance in Paris for the last 13 years, and comes with experience of covering financial services including general banking, derivatives, market infrastructure and asset freeze.

Separately, Payne Hicks Beach hired Rosamond McDowell as a partner and Andrew Dixon as a consultant from Collyer Bristow. Both will join the firm’s private client department which currently houses seven partners, one associate and two solicitors.

McDowell specialises in tax and estate planning for individuals, families and trustees, onshore and offshore on contentious and non-contentious matters. Dixon has experience in UK and international taxation and trust and estate law. His clients include land owners, executives and partners, whom he advises on assets such as land, shares and securities and heritage property.

Managing partner Peter Black said: ‘Our private client team is experiencing increasing demand from both a domestic and international client base, and Rosamond and Andrew’s arrival further increases our capabilities. We are delighted that they join us at such an exciting time in the development of the team, and Payne Hicks Beach more widely, as we look forward to strong growth in the next 12 months and beyond.’

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: Strategic UK hires for Irwin Mitchell; Simmons; Speechly and Winckworth Sherwood

Revolving Doors: Strategic UK hires for Irwin Mitchell; Simmons; Speechly and Winckworth Sherwood

A series of lateral hires across the UK last week saw Irwin Mitchell take on a trio of commercial litigation partners from Eversheds, DLA Piper and Matthew Arnold Baldwin (MAB), while Simmons & Simmons bolstered its information technology team with a hire from DLA, and Speechly Bircham and Winckworth Sherwood hired into their planning and real estate practices respectively.

Irwin Mitchell made a significant investment into its business legal services division with the appointment of Eversheds banking and financial services litigation partner Jonathan Crook, DLA disputes partner Dorrien Peters and MAB professional indemnity partner Jonathan Sachs.

Sachs formerly headed the professional indemnity team at MAB and earlier roles have included leading the litigation teams at Pettman Smith and legacy Sprecher Grier Halberstam, now SGH Martineau. He will join the firm’s London office.

Crook was in Eversheds’ Manchester office previously, where he specialised in banking and financial services litigation, and he will transfer across to Irwin Mitchell in the North West City.

Peters, who originally trained as an electronic engineer with BAE before joining DLA Piper’s Sheffield office, specialises in complex disputes in the IT, manufacturing, engineering and construction sectors and the use of computer forensic methods in support of civil fraud claims.

‘All three are experts in their field and demonstrate our intention to grow our market share by investing in highly talented people who have an innovative approach to law and proven track record when it comes to supporting the complex needs of clients,’ said Nigel Kissack, national head of commercial litigation at the firm.

Elsewhere, top 20 UK firm Simmons & Simmons has expanded its information, communication and technology (ICT) team with the hire of DLA partner Hinal Patel to its London office. Patel’s practice incorporates non-contentious technology with an emphasis on technology sourcing and general commercial contracting. While at DLA, Patel worked in both the firm’s London and Dubai offices.

‘Hinal Patel’s arrival marks a further milestone in the expansion of our ICT practice. His extensive experience of ICT and outsourcing work and cross border matters will be invaluable to our international practice,’ said Mark Curtis, head of ICT for the firm.

Meanwhile, City firm Speechly Bircham has bolstered its planning practice with the arrival of Tim Johnson from DAC Beachcroft. Johnson specialises in environmental and ecological matters relating to the development of land and ensuring compliance with European Union law. The Legal 500 commends him for his ‘commercial sense’ and ‘very sound advice’.

‘Tim adds strength in depth to our team, in particular with his wide experience of acting for developers on complex, mixed use schemes,’ said Claire Fallows, head of planning at the firm.

Winckworth Sherwood has also strengthened its real estate practice with the arrival of Christopher Brigstocke from Squire Sanders where he was a partner. His clients include developers, investors, funders and public sector bodies. He specialises in dealing with transport and infrastructure matters.

‘Christopher is an enormously respected real estate lawyer. His considerable experience and client following will be a terrific asset to the team,’ said Roger Fitton, managing partner of the firm.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving Doors: White & Case disputes partner joins the Bar as McGuireWoods; Covington and Simmons make key hires

Revolving Doors: White & Case disputes partner joins the Bar as McGuireWoods; Covington and Simmons make key hires

The latest standout lateral moves have seen White & Case litigator Paul Cowen return to the Bar as McGuireWoods expands its City restructuring offering with a hire from DLA Piper, and Covington & Burling and Simmons & Simmons boost their competition groups in Brussels with hires from Clifford Chance (CC) and Olswang respectively.

Cowen returns to the Bar after eleven years at White & Case. He joins 4 New Square’s international arbitration, construction and dispute resolution team.

After being approached by the Bar on several occasions late last year, Cowen told Legal Business that it was 4 New Square’s clear strategic objective and modern feel that attracted him. ‘Its core strategic priorities are international arbitration and big ticket construction advice, which is what I do,’ he said. ‘4 New Square is the modern face of the Bar – it does a lot of traditional work, but is open to new models of working. For example, they have a centralised IT system and its basic set up is similar to what I am used to in a firm.’

He added: ‘I am a barrister in my DNA. The main question was “is this practical and does it work”, and it will.’

Cowen was called to the Bar in 1996 and joined White & Case as a partner in 2008. He has experience of advising on non-contentious construction issues and contract negotiation, including building contracts, consultancy appointments, development agreements, collateral warranties, bonds and guarantees involving all forms of construction procurement.

Head of chambers, Ben Hubble QC added in a statement: ‘This recruitment provides a great opportunity both for Paul and for 4 New Square. His experience as part of the team at White & Case will prove invaluable and further advances our long term strategy for growth in the commercial and construction, international litigation and arbitration fields.’

Elsewhere, DLA Piper’s restructuring partner Simon Neilson-Clark has joined McGuireWoods in the firm’s restructuring and insolvency group in London, where he will focus on representing stakeholders in UK and international financial restructuring, insolvency and dispute resolution. He comes with experience of advising borrowers, lenders, and insolvency practitioners involving international structures, as well as debt and equity investors in cross-border, leveraged and group structures.

Dion Hayes, chair of the McGuireWoods restructuring and insolvency department said: ‘He has a tremendous amount of experience in large UK and cross-border restructurings and will greatly expand our capabilities in that area in London.’

In Brussels meanwhile, Covington & Burling has strengthened its EU competition practice with the hire of Clifford Chance partner Johan Ysewyn and Peter Camesasca, who returns to the US firm after a two-year stint running his own practice.

Ysewyn joins Covington as its European competition practice head and has experience of advising on international and Belgian antitrust law, including merger control, compliance, cartel and leniency issues, and abuse of dominance cases.

Camesasca has advised US and EU clients within the aviation, maritime transport, harbours and shipyards, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, electronics and semiconductor sectors. He joined Covington as a partner in March 2010 and left to run his own practice Peter Camesasca Advocaat BVBA in June 2012.

Covington’s Brussels managing partner, Peter Bogaert said: ‘The arrival of Johan and Peter’s return to Covington are very exciting news for our European and broader international competition practice. It brings us fully on track with our plans to grow in Brussels, and we feel this is a watershed moment for the EU competition group, which produces cutting edge work for a range of clients, including AstraZeneca, Expedia, Microsoft, Samsung, and many others.’

Similarly, Simmons & Simmons has hired competition partner Koen Platteau from Olswang to its EU, competition and regulatory practice in Brussels. Platteau joined Olswang in 2008 and has represented clients before EU institutions, the Belgian Competition Authority and EU and national courts, on merger control, cartel cases and abuse of dominance cases, compliance programmes, competition litigation/arbitration and State aid matters.

Simmons & Simmons international dispute head Hans-Hermann Aldenhoff said: ‘Koen’s appointment will add further scale, not only to our EU, competition and regulatory practice, but to our Brussels office as a whole and we are looking forward to him joining this growing team.’

Jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Partner promotions: Simmons adds eight new partners, half in London

Partner promotions: Simmons adds eight new partners, half in London

Simmons & Simmons has promoted eight lawyers to its partnership ranks, just one more than the top-20 LB100 firm made up last year.

Half of the total promotions came in London, with one each in Frankfurt, Paris, Milan and Tokyo, with promotions falling across the firm’s corporate and commercial, financial services, disputes and real estate practices.

The firm made up two female lawyers this year, again one more than last year.

Senior partner Colin Passmore said: ‘Recognising and promoting the talent that exists within our firm is key to us achieving our ambitious growth plans. Ours is a high performance culture, and these eight outstanding individuals amply demonstrated their ambition, talent, and commitment to our clients and the firm.’

At the end of 2013 the firm reported an 8% increase in revenues for the half year for 2013/14, rising from £121m at the same point the year before to £130.7m.

Jaishree.kalia@legalease.co.uk

The new partners are:

Ali Crosthwaite – real estate, London

Christophe Fichet – corporate & commercial, Paris

Craig Bisson – financial services, London

Devarshi Saksena – financial services, London

Laura Orlando – dispute resolution, Milan

Richard Kramer – corporate & commercial, Tokyo

Simon Whiteside – financial services, London

Thomas Scharfenberg – financial markets, Frankfurt

Legal Business

The end of the pipeline: Herbert Smith Freehills and Simmons advise AO on float to attain $1bn market cap

The end of the pipeline: Herbert Smith Freehills and Simmons advise AO on float to attain $1bn market cap

A healthy pipeline of London Stock Exchange listings has seen Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) advise online appliances website AO on its proposed initial public offering (IPO), with the small-beginnings Bolton white goods company reportedly expected to attain a market capitalisation of around £1bn upon listing.

The HSF team is being led by equity capital markets (ECM) partner Chris Haynes and includes US-qualified global head of capital markets Steve Thierbach and corporate partner Mike Flockhart. AO, which sells items from fridges to coffee machines through its website, said in a statement last Friday that it plans to raise £60m from the IPO.

Simmons & Simmons is advising the underwriting banks on the deal including Jefferies International, J.P. Morgan, Cazenove and Numis Securities. The team is being led by corporate and ECM partner Colin Bole, alongside US securities partner Julian Perlmutter.

Reports from the financial press including the FT and Bloomberg have placed AO’s capitalisation figure at around the £1bn mark, with the FT placing it between £800m and £1.4bn.

While there were no entries in January to the main list, companies waiting to float in order to provide their private equity investors with an exit include Warburg Pincus-owned Poundland and KKR-owned Pets at Home.

Last year saw IPOs raise $18.7bn, a substantial increase on 2012, which raised just $4.7bn according to Dealogic.

In late January, Dentons and Lawrence Graham advised Hurricane Energy, which focuses on oil reserves in reservoirs beneath the North Sea and has already signed investment and drilling deals with BP and Transocean, as it prepares to float on the AIM market of the LSE with a value of £272m.

Hurricane, which is expected to start drilling in the second half of 2014, was led by Dentons corporate partner Jeremy Cohen, alongside energy partner Danielle Beggs and environment partner Sam Boileu.

Cenkos Securities acted as Hurricane’s nomad and broker, with Lawrence Graham’s head of corporate Geoff Gouriet advising alongside senior associates Rebecca Gordon and Jenna Beever.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Revolving doors: Bird & Bird, Bond Dickinson and Simmons all make lateral moves

The appetite shown by global elite firms to hire laterally at the start of the year has spread wider in the City, as Bird & Bird, Bond Dickinson, Simmons & Simmons and US firm Sedgwick have all been in action recently.

Bird & Bird secured the hire of partner Sven-Michael Werner from rival firm Taylor Wessing to its China corporate practice. Werner, who speaks Mandarin, has over 12 years’ experience practising Chinese law and will be based at the firm’s Shanghai office. He has a focus on M&A and foreign direct investment, particularly advising European clients investing into China.

‘Sven-Michael’s extensive experience in our key sectors of technology, media and life sciences, as well as with major fashion brands, makes him a good fit for our growing corporate practice in China,’ said Marcus Vass, head of Bird & Bird’s China transactional group.

Bird & Bird has also appointed Air Arabia general counsel Anna Anatolitou as a partner across both its UAE offices. Prior to that she was at Norton Rose and has over 13 years’ experience as an aviation and dispute resolution lawyer.

‘Now Anna has joined, we have practical capability in the Middle East to advise airlines, insurers, lessors and investors on all legal issues. Our international aviation sector group has grown considerably over the past ten years and will continue to keep growing,’ said Paul Briggs, co-head of the firm’s aviation group.

Meanwhile another Global 100 firm, Simmons & Simmons, has also scored a coup with the hire of Reed Smith’s head of investment funds for Europe and the Middle East, Dale Gabbert.

Gabbert advises fund managers and financial institutions on the establishment and running of all classes of alternative investment funds, including hedge funds, private equity funds and credit funds.

‘Dale’s appointment will add further scale to our private funds practice, and we are looking forward to him joining this growing team,’ said Colin Leaver, Simmons’ asset management and investment funds sector head.

On the domestic front, Bond Dickinson brought in high regarded intellectual property (IP) expert Patrick Cantrill as partner from top-tier Leeds firm Walker Morris, where he was head of its IP department. The Legal 500 describes him as having an ‘incredible wealth of experience’ illustrated by having over 30 years’ of experience managing IP portfolios for blue chip and international organisations.

‘He is one of the most accomplished lawyers in his field and he will be a first-rate addition to our intellectual property and media practice,’ said Bond Dickinson chairman Nick Page. ‘We look forward to working with him as we develop our presence in London and internationally,’

Finally, US firm Sedgwick brought in DLA Piper insurance litigation partner David Murphy into its London office earlier this month. His experience spans a variety of classes of business, including property, energy, engineering, mining and credit insurance.

Murphy’s practice is truly international. He has represented London market and global insurers in analysing insurance claims and coverage issues arising from numerous jurisdictions around the globe, including Thailand, Colombia, Australia and Peru.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Positive financials continue as Simmons & Simmons posts an 8% increase in H1 revenues

Top-20 Legal Business 100 firm Simmons & Simmons has reported an 8% increase in revenues for the half year (H1) 2013/14, rising from £121m at this point last year to £130.7m.

The firm has reported improved performance across all practice groups. This represents a reversal in fortunes for the firm, who last year reported a 3% dip in revenues at the half-year stage, attributed at the time to problems in the Eurozone.

The revenues posted are also much stronger than the firm’s full 2012-13 results, which were broadly flat with a 1% dip to £250.3m, with profit per equity partner also staying more or less flat at £525,000.

Simmons’ managing partner, Jeremy Hoyland, told Legal Business: ‘We’ve seen more growth in northern Europe, the UK, Germany and Netherlands where market conditions have definitely improved. For us, the Middle East has done better.’

In terms of practice areas, Hoyland said that the corporate group – including both its equity capital markets team and its general M&A practice – had seen the most growth, while the finance team had also performed well.

‘Overall we are well placed to build on this good progress in the second half of the financial year,’ he added. Although the firm does not release a half-year profit figure, Hoyland noted: ‘the profits should be well up on this time last year because so much of the cost base is fixed,’ he added.

Simmons has been in expansive mode in 2013, opening in Munich in March and Singapore in May which may go some way to explaining the rise in revenues. The Munich launch was based on an intellectual property platform, which given that the European Patent Court is based in the city and the strength of the firm’s IP practice, seemed a prudent move. Meanwhile Singapore launched with five partners, relocating Norton Rose lateral hire Dan Marjanovic, a banking and finance partner, to the office from Hong Kong.

However, Hoyland said that although the new offices are producing revenues, they had not yet made a material difference to the firmwide increase in turnover.

On the basis of H1 results released so far the UK legal market appears to be in rude health going into 2014. Allen & Overy today (20 November) posted a 7.5% increase, while Olswang’s H1 revenue grew by 15%. DWF has been the standout performer so far with a 54.5% increase due largely to the firm’s rapid expansion through mergers in the last 18 months.

david.stevenson@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Negotiations conclude over Simmons’ hire of Mahrie Webb from Burges Salmon

Negotiations conclude over Simmons’ hire of Mahrie Webb from Burges Salmon

Long-running negotiations have now concluded between Burges Salmon and Simmons & Simmons over the start date of funds partner Mahrie Webb, who in May became the City practice’s fourth hire to its low-cost Bristol office.

Simmons launched the South West base in September last year with the hire of financial services litigation partners Tim Boyce and Ed Crosse from Osborne Clarke.

However, Webb has yet to join and it is understood that Burges Salmon initially tried to hold the highly regarded funds lawyer to two years gardening leave but that figure has now been reduced to a year, with Webb expected to join Simmons in May.

While neither Simmons nor Burges Salmon would comment, the move is an indication of the way Simmons’ entry into the already competitive, overcrowded Bristol market is being viewed by the leading local firms.

Simmons’ Bristol office was set up to deliver efficiencies to clients and flexible service models and in theory is not in direct competition with local firms.

However, last October saw Simmons hire Burges Salmon banking partner Helen Hancock and speaking earlier to Legal Business one Simmons partner commented: ‘A lot of the Bristol firms think we’re competing in the Bristol market, which is not why we set it up.’

Attempts to enforce a notice period of this length are unusual. However in October it emerged that Field Fisher Waterhouse’s head of privacy, Eduardo Ustaran, is being held to a 19-month notice period before he can join Hogan Lovells.

caroline.hill@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Bristol tussle over Simmons’ hire of Mahrie Webb from Burges Salmon

Bristol tussle over Simmons’ hire of Mahrie Webb from Burges Salmon

Negotiations are still underway between Burges Salmon and Simmons & Simmons over the start date of funds partners Mahrie Webb, who in May became the City practice’s fourth hire to its low-cost Bristol office.

Simmons launched the South West base in September last year with the hire of financial services litigation partners Tim Boyce and Ed Crosse from Osborne Clarke.

However, Webb has yet to join and it is understood that Burges Salmon initially tried to hold the highly regarded funds lawyer to two years gardening leave but that figure may be reduced to a year.