Legal Business

Skadden doubles down on City recruitment drive with hire of Freshfields star Embley

Skadden doubles down on City recruitment drive with hire of Freshfields star Embley

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has hired one of the most well-known M&A partners in the City, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer veteran Bruce Embley. 

The move is a major fillip for Skadden, which has long been accused of being too conservative in its City hiring policy as well as underweight in its M&A offering since respected rainmaker Michael Hatchard retired at the end of 2017. 

Freshfields former global M&A client group co-head Embley was noted as being a ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ partner and a strong all-rounder in the influential partner stakes in Legal Business’ 2019 feature on the Magic Circle firm. 

Embley, who was rumoured to have been on the market for several months before joining Skadden, has more than 25 years’ experience advising on private equity and public and private M&A transactions in sectors including financial services, energy and telecommunications. 

Bruce has led some of the largest and most complex private equity and M&A deals in the UK and internationally, and is an excellent fit for our practice,’ said Scott Simpson, Skadden’s global co-head of transactions. 

 Pranav Trivedi, head of Skadden’s  London office, said: We have made important strategic hires in London over the past year and, in particular, invested in our M&A and private equity bench. Bruce’s experience is in the type of complex, high-stakes transactions for which we are known.’ 

Few observers of Skadden’s City office could fail to notice its recent deviation from conservatism, with the hire of restructuring partner Peter Newman from Milbank in February, building on the recruitment of Allen & Overy (A&O) corporate duo George Knighton and Simon Toms.  

Those A&O moves in particular made waves as Skadden’s first substantial play in London since the hire of high-profile dealmaker Richard Youle from White & Case in 2017 and have been viewed as a serious statement of intent on the ambitions of Skadden’s City corporate practice. 

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – International Arbitration Team of the Year

Legal Business Awards 2020 – International Arbitration Team of the Year

After much back-and-forth between the judges in a keenly contested category, we are now delighted to reveal the winner of International Arbitration Team of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

The winner of this award demonstrated pre-eminent advice in a single matter, be that acting for private corporates, investors, state-owned enterprises or states themselves in international commercial arbitration or investment treaty arbitration.




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Winner – Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

It is not often you secure one of the largest commercial arbitration awards ever made, but that is exactly what Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton achieved in 2019, making the firm the standout contender for this year’s category.

Headed by disputes partner Jonathan Kelly, along with litigation and investigations partner James Brady, Cleary successfully concluded a four-and-a-half-year battle for Brazilian mining group Vale concerning allegations of fraud and bribery against its mining partner in Guinea, BSG Resources (BSGR). The matter was resolved with a remarkable $2bn victory for Vale after related legal proceedings took place in the US, UK and Switzerland.

‘Cleary fought like tigers on Vale’s behalf to prove BSGR’s fraud,’ said Thiago Mucury Cardoso, legal counsel at Vale. ‘Vale’s good name and reputation was completely vindicated’.

Vale accused BSGR of engaging in bribery to obtain mining licences in Guinea, a share of which it then fraudulently sold to Vale. With Cleary leading the claim, The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) ruled in favour of Vale, despite numerous efforts from BSGR to stymie proceedings.

Added Cardoso: ‘Cleary displayed a remarkable can-do ability to find solutions to every obstacle or problem that our opponents raised. Every time we turned to Cleary, it delivered for us.’

Such were the problems faced, Cleary drafted lawyers from its London, New York and Paris offices to pursue the claim. It then thoroughly investigated BSGR’s complex offshore corporate structure, traced its cash flows, persuaded material Guinean witnesses to testify in London, and extracted incriminating evidence from BSGR itself. All this work culminated in a devastating and forensic record presented to the LCIA.

The compelling case made by Cleary saw a final award of $1.25bn in damages and $775m in pre-award interest, post-award interest, costs, and legal fees. Concluded Cardoso: ‘These results were achieved by Cleary’s technical excellence and understanding, its absolute and unswerving commitment to Vale’s cause, and its refusal to take a step back when confronted with BSGR’s numerous attempts to derail the arbitration process.’

Highly Commended – Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Skadden is the Highly Commended firm in this category after obtaining the largest-ever investment treaty award against Spain on behalf of two Dutch subsidiaries of renewable energy company NextEra.

The team, led by Skadden’s leading duo of David Herlihy and Karyl Nairn, successfully argued Spain’s abolition of the feed-in-tariffs and premiums applicable to NextEra’s solar plants breached the Energy Charter Treaty and entitled NextEra to damages of €290.6m plus interest and an award of more than $5m for attorneys’ fees and arbitration costs. According to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, the legal angle taken by Skadden was pivotal to its unanimous finding of liability.

Not only is the award the largest of many claims rendered against Spain in relation to the country’s abolition of a long-term premium and tariff system for concentrated solar power, it is thought to be the largest reward ever won in the renewable energy sector globally.

Other nominations

Addleshaw Goddard

Successfully representing the estate of a deceased Thai investor in an investment treaty claim against the Malaysian government relating to an oceanfront property that had been fraudulently taken from her in 1988.

Crowell & Moring

Enforcing the rule of law in Broadsheet v Government of Pakistan, where the tribunal found that the Pakistan government and its anti-corruption agency had wrongfully repudiated an asset recovery agreement with Broadsheet, confirming that the company was entitled to damages.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Successfully representing Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas in an LCIA dispute with Hungary’s MOL Group over the settlement of another dispute that their joint venture company, Pearl, had with the Kurdistan Regional Government relating to its gas exploitation rights in the country.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Helping Ukraine’s second-largest commercial bank, JSC Oschadbank, obtain a landmark $1.3bn award in its investment treaty claim against the Russian Federation relating to the expropriation of the bank’s business and assets in Crimea.

Legal Business

Firm focus: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Firm focus: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

London headcount: 144 lawyers, 28 partners
Lawyer headcount change since 2014: 15% (-7% partners)
London head: Pranav Trivedi
Office specialities: M&A, arbitration, litigation and white collar

Legal Business

Life During Law: Scott Simpson

Life During Law: Scott Simpson

We had Skadden’s 30th anniversary party at Kensington Palace. Very cool. I’ve been here most of those 30 years.

I took a year and a half off between high school and college in the States. I spent most of my youth surfing and had a dream to finish high school in Hawaii.

Legal Business

Hello Newman: Milbank loses restructuring partner to Skadden’s relative City hiring spree

Hello Newman: Milbank loses restructuring partner to Skadden’s relative City hiring spree

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom continues to turn heads with its uncharacteristic hiring spree in London, this time in the form of Milbank restructuring partner Peter Newman.

A firm not famed for aggressive recruitment drives, the move is notable for being Skadden’s third London lateral recruit within the last six months, after it benefited from Allen & Overy’s failed US merger to add corporate partners Simon Toms and George Knighton last September.

Those hires were considered the biggest coup for Skadden’s European corporate practice since that of private equity partner Richard Youle from White & Case in 2017.

A Milbank ‘lifer’, Newman advises companies, creditors and stakeholders on cross-border restructurings, distressed acquisitions and financings. He will join Skadden’s corporate restructuring team.

Recent work highlights include advising new lenders to TORM A/S, the Danish shipping company on a $1.5bn restructuring and merger, the junior lender coordinating committee of General Healthcare Group on its £2.1bn restructuring and the lenders of Spanish clothing retailer Cortefiel on a €1.3bn restructuring.

Organic growth over the last year at Skadden’s Canary Wharf office has also seen M&A lawyer Denis Klimentchenko promoted to partner.

Scott Simpson, co-head of Skadden’s global transactions practice, said: ‘We continue to invest in the growth of our European platform through strategic hires. Peter’s experience in financial restructuring, with a particular focus on advising funds on their distressed investments, will deepen our bench in this important area and enhance the service we provide to our clients.’

Legal Business

Double blow for Magic Circle as US leaders Weil and Skadden secure M&A veterans

Double blow for Magic Circle as US leaders Weil and Skadden secure M&A veterans

Leading US firms continue to dominate the London recruitment market with significant appointments from the Magic Circle, as Weil, Gotshal & Manges hired Linklaters’ highly-rated M&A partner David Avery-Gee (pictured) shortly after Allen & Overy (A&O) saw corporate pair Simon Toms and George Knighton jump ship to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

The hire of Avery-Gee is a coup for Weil, which has struggled against more potent US rivals in recent years in London. The office has had setbacks in corporate, including the loss of London managing partner Mike Francies’ protégé Samantha McGonigle, who left after 13 years to co-found a growth fund in February.

Legal Business

Bad timing – A&O loses M&A duo to Skadden following failed US merger talks

Bad timing – A&O loses M&A duo to Skadden following failed US merger talks

Allen & Overy has lost two well-respected London corporate partners to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom just days after the magic circle firm confirmed the collapse of its merger talks with US firm O’Melveny & Myers.

Simon Toms and George Knighton have quit A&O, inflicting a considerable hit on its M&A capabilities ten days after it announced it was calling it a day on its attempts to tie up with O’Melveny after more than a year of talks.

Toms counts among his clients 21st Century Fox, which he advised in its bid to acquire European satellite broadcaster Sky, HP and Cerberus Capital Management, while Knighton recently acted on the £1.7bn sale of Virgin Money to CYBG.

The departures to a US outfit carry a particularly high symbolic value at a time when A&O’s leadership has promised to fast-track investment in its US practice as the pressure to strengthen its capabilities Stateside persist.

Meanwhile, this is the biggest coup for Skadden’s European corporate practice since the hire of former Linklaters private equity partner Richard Youle from White & Case in 2017.

A&O and Skadden declined to comment.

Legal Business

Deal watch: Seats at the table for Travers, Skadden and Gateley as Pret acquires EAT and Oliver’s chain collapses

Deal watch: Seats at the table for Travers, Skadden and Gateley as Pret acquires EAT and Oliver’s chain collapses

Two opposite developments in the UK high street have seen City and US firms advise as food chain Pret A Manger acquired rival Eat and high-profile British chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant business went into administration.

Also keeping City insolvency practitioners busy was the news today (22 May) that British Steel has been put into compulsory liquidation.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom advised Pret as it agreed to acquire all of Eat’s 94 shops for an undisclosed sum, with plans to turn most into ‘Veggie Prets’.

The US firm’s team was led by London corporate partners Richard Youle, Katja Butler and Linda Davies. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Alex Potter is advising Pret on antitrust.

On the other side of the table, Travers Smith’s head of private equity and financial sponsors Paul Dolman led the team advising Ardian, Horizon Capital and the other selling shareholders of Eat.

‘I acted for Horizon when they acquired Eat [in 2011] and we have acted for them ever since, so we were the logical people to advise on the sale,’ Dolman told Legal Business. ‘Travers has in-depth expertise in this sector.’

The deal sees Travers’ and Pret’s paths cross again after the City firm advised previous owner Bridgepoint on the £1.5bn sale of the food chain to JAB Holding Company one year ago, with a team including Dolman and private equity partner Ian Shawyer.

Under Bridgepoint’s ownership the company, founded in London in 1986, expanded its presence in the UK and US, and launched in France, China, Dubai and Singapore, quadrupling its revenues to £879m. It now counts over 500 shops in nine countries.

Eat was founded in 1996 and bought by Horizon in 2011 with plans to build hundreds of shops. But it has struggled in recent years and reported pre-tax losses of £17.2m in the year to end of June 2018.

Meanwhile, Daniel French, an insolvency partner at listed firm Gateley, is leading the team acting alongside administrator KPMG after Oliver’s business became the latest victim amid difficult times for the UK high street.

Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group will see 22 of the 25 eateries it operates close, resulting in 1,000 job losses.

This is the second prominent high-street insolvency Gateley has acted on this year. The firm also advised KPMG on the administration of Patisserie Valerie in January.

Elsewhere, Clifford Chance (CC)’s insolvency team is advising as British Steele entered compulsory liquidation, putting its 5,000 employees at risk of redundancy.

The government’s official receiver has taken control of the company and together with Big Four accountancy firm EY is looking for a buyer, while it continues to trade normally.

CC’s restructuring head Philip Hertz and partner Iain White are leading the team advising on the process.

The Magic Circle firm was previously among the advisers in one of the largest UK insolvencies to hit the construction industry in recent years, when construction giant Carillion collapsed in January last year.

Legal Business

A&O ups the ante on female partner promotions as Skadden ends City investment drought

A&O ups the ante on female partner promotions as Skadden ends City investment drought

Allen & Overy has promoted 14 London partners amid a scaled up 34-strong global round while Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has promoted its first City partner in three years.

The Magic Circle firm made heavier investment in new partners than last year and also significantly improved the promotion of women, minting eight females – equal to 24% of the newest partners – of which two are part-time. Last year, A&O made up only two women in its 20-strong round, having the same month vowed to redouble its diversity efforts.

Notably, Shruti Ajitsaria, the head of its tech innovation space Fuse, was promoted to partner.

Ajitsaria said: ‘After training at A&O, I think it’s fair to say I have taken a slightly alternative career path. The success of Fuse is testament to the spirit of innovation which runs throughout the firm – from management to our trainees and across our global offices.’

Jonathan Brayne, chairman of Fuse, added: ‘Shruti has been fundamental to the highly successful launch and operation of Fuse, A&O’s tech innovation space.  I’m confident she will take it to another level as a partner and will find new ways of keeping Fuse – and with it Allen & Overy – in the vanguard of legal market tech innovation.’

The firm has a target of having 30% female partner candidates by 2021 with a view to having 30% women in its partnership overall. The other London promotions saw five made up in banking, four in corporate, two in international capital markets (ICM) and two in litigation.

Skadden, meanwhile, has promoted Denis Klimentchenko from counsel to partner for its City M&A bench, a rare investment for the firm having bypassed London altogether for two-years running.

While a show of support for the London office, the 11-strong global round is scaled back from previous years when 14 were made up in 2018 and 12 were promoted in 2017. Klimentchenko is the first promotion in London since Sandro de Bernardini was minted to Skadden’s City M&A team back in 2016.


The full list of A&O partner promotions:

Arnold Keizer, litigation, Amsterdam

Hilde Van der Baan, litigation, Amsterdam

Sarah Wilson, banking, Bangkok

Thales Mertens, litigation, Brussels

Kyle Nevin, banking, Dubai

Anthony Traboulsi, banking, Dubai

Zeid Qursha, corporate, Dubai

Tina LeDinh, corporate, Ho Chi Minh City

Oleg Khomenko, banking, London

Catherine Lang-Anderson, banking, London

Nick Lister, banking, London

Ed Moser, banking, London

Jodi Norman, banking, London

Michael Bloch, corporate, London

Kate McInerney, corporate, London

Hugh Robinson, corporate, London

William Samengo-Turner, corporate, London

Shruti Ajitsaria, Fuse, London

Peter Crossan, ICM, London

Suril Patel, ICM, London

Brandon O’Neil, litigation, London

Robbie Sinclair, litigation, London

Yannick Arbaut, banking, Luxembourg

Jacques Graas, corporate, Luxembourg

Paul Peporte, ICM, Luxembourg

Santiago de Vicente, real estate, Madrid

Paolo Nastasi, corporate, Milan

Bulat Zhambalnimbuev, corporate, Moscow

Magnus Mueller, tax, Munich

Xavier Jancène, real estate, Paris

Aloysius Tan, ICM, Singapore

Tokutaka Ito, corporate, Tokyo

Bartosz Merczynski, litigation, Warsaw

Maura Rezendes, corporate, Washington DC


The full list of Skadden partner promotions:

Christopher Barlow, M&A, New York

Julie Cohen, litigation, New York

Elena Coyle, financial institutions, New York

Alec Jarvis, tax, New York

Denis Klimentchenko, M&A, London

Joseph Larkin, litigation/corporate restructuring, Wilmington

Christopher Murphy, tax controversy, Palo Alto

Alisha Nanda, litigation, Boston

Christine Okike, corporate restructuring, New York

Paloma Wang, capital markets, Hong Kong

Geoffrey Wyatt, mass torts, insurance & consumer litigation, Washington DC

Legal Business

US firms deployed on $43bn Worldpay takeover as Freshfields scores lead on major bank merger

US firms deployed on $43bn Worldpay takeover as Freshfields scores lead on major bank merger

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is advising payment processor Worldpay on a proposed $43bn takeover offer by financial technology company FIS, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has been drafted in to act for Deutsche Bank on merger talks with rival Commerzbank.

The deal, announced yesterday (18 March), will see Worldpay shareholders receive $11 in cash for each of their shares. The merger gives Worldpay an enterprise value of around $43bn, including its debt, which Florida-based FIS expects to refinance.

In a joint statement, the companies said the combination greatly enhances FIS’ payment offering and ‘significantly increases Worldpay’s distribution footprint’.

The Skadden team advising Worldpay consists of New York partners Peter Atkins, David Ingles, Sven Mickisch, Joseph Penko and London-based partner Scott Hopkins. Willkie Farr & Gallagher was enlisted to advise FIS on the deal, with a team led by US partners Robert Rachofsky and Adam Turteltaub, and in the UK by Jennifer Tait and Henrietta de Salis.

It is the second major merger Worldpay has been subject to in under two years: in September 2017 it was bought by Vantiv, creating a company with a combined value of £22.2bn. Skadden was involved that time too, assisting the Cincinnati-based Vantiv, while Allen & Overy advised Worldpay.

Later this year, Worldpay general counsel (GC) Ruwan de Soyza is set to leave for a GC and executive committee role at a FTSE 100 technology company.

Meanwhile, Freshfields and German firm Hengeler Mueller have landed roles as Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank announced last Sunday (17 March) they were in merger discussions. Nevertheless, the rival banks warned ‘there is no certainty that any transaction will occur.’

In January 2016, Freshfields advised Deutsche Bank as it sold ¥25.7bn of its Chinese assets.

Hengeler Mueller is advising Commerzbank, with a team consisting of partners Johannes Adolff, Hartwin Bungert, Daniela Favoccia, Dirk Bliesener, Lucina Berger and Martin Klein.