Legal Business

Deals Yearbook 2022: Sally Wokes, Slaughter and May – partner since 2015

Deals Yearbook 2022: Sally Wokes, Slaughter and May – partner since 2015

Why did you decide to become an M&A lawyer? Was there anyone in particular who inspired you early on in your career?
I unexpectedly fell in love with it in my first seat at the firm. It was the boom before the bust of 2005, and I found the pace and energy of what was happening in the group a huge draw. Ancillary to that, I have to say Melissa Fogarty, who was my first supervisor, and who has now gone on to be the co-head of London corporate at Clifford Chance.

Legal Business

Slaughters galvanises succession to name Finkler and Turnill its next generation leaders

Slaughters galvanises succession to name Finkler and Turnill its next generation leaders

In an unusual display of forward planning for a City leader, Slaughter and May has already earmarked Roland Turnill (pictured) to succeed Steve Cooke as senior partner when he steps down from the role on 1 May 2024.

The announcement today (28 September) came within a week of the news that respected litigator Deborah Finkler had been elected as Slaughters’ first managing partner as of 1 May 2022, following the planned retirement of practice partner David Wittmann and executive partner Paul Stacey.

These recent elections follow a June disclosure detailing the rationale for a change in structure of the executive function at the firm, in which the managing partner will assume the functions of the practice partner along with the strategic elements of the executive partner’s role. Meanwhile, a chief operating officer role is also being created to take on the managerial and operational aspects of the executive partner’s role.

Deal stalwart Turnill joined Slaughters in 1996 and became a partner in 2004. He currently heads up the firm’s M&A practice and is also co-head of its financial institutions group. A member of the partnership board since 2016, his listed client roster boasts Vodafone, Royal Dutch Shell and Prudential. He will continue in full-time practice until a transition period starts in early 2024.

The highly-regarded M&A specialist Cooke was first elected as the City institution’s senior partner in 2016 for a five-year term and in 2019 had his term extended for another three years to 2024.

Cooke said of the move: ‘The energy and drive [Turnill] brings to his client relationships and the excellent job that he is doing currently as head of M&A and FIG co-head mean he will bring a wealth of experience when he steps into the senior partner role in 2024. The decision to appoint the next senior partner well ahead of time is consistent with our approach of long-term decision making as we bring in a new management structure over the coming months.’

Finkler, a leading light in banking and commercial litigation and regulatory investigation whose clients include Santander, JP Morgan and WPP, joined the firm in 1986 and became a partner in 1991. She will be instrumental in the appointment of the new COO and will continue fee-earning until early 2022.

Cooke said of Finkler’s election: ‘Her reputation as a practitioner is outstanding and she combines this experience with great knowledge of the firm from her time as head of our disputes and investigations group and as a previous member of the partnership board. These were roles to which she brought great drive and integrity and make her ideally equipped to be the firm’s first managing partner.’

Finkler commented: The creation of the managing partner role marks a significant change for the firm. It is an exciting challenge for me, and I am grateful for the support of my partners as I step up. I am looking forward to shaping the role of and hiring the COO over the coming months, but my focus will remain on fee-earning work until I begin a handover period with David and Paul early next year.’

Legal Business

‘Leading-edge experience’ – Slaughter and May looks in-house to make rare City disputes partner hire

‘Leading-edge experience’ – Slaughter and May looks in-house to make rare City disputes partner hire

Slaughter and May has made a rare City hire, the firm announced today (19 November), recruiting a partner into its disputes and investigations practice from in-house.

Gayathri Kamalanathan is currently head of group litigation and enforcement at Danske Bank in Copenhagen, having been at the bank for almost two years, but is now set to join Slaughters in April. Prior to joining Dankse Bank, Kamalanathan had an eight-year spell at Deutsche Bank where she served as managing director UK head of litigation and enforcement and spent nine years at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer where she was a senior associate.

Richard Swallow, head of Slaughters’ disputes and investigations group, commented: ‘Gayathri is an absolutely fantastic hire for us at a time when we are growing our team and securing some significant victories for clients. Her decade of leading-edge experience in senior in-house roles has given her deep knowledge of complex litigation and global regulatory and criminal enforcement action. All the partners are immensely excited to add Gayathri to our team.’

Such recruitment is rare for Slaughters, especially in the City. However, in 2018 the firm made a major hire into its investigations practice, luring former Serious Fraud Office director Sir David Green QC as a consultant . The firm has also made partner hires into its Hong Kong office in recent years.

Steve Cooke, senior partner, added: ‘Gayathri’s appointment marks another significant point in the continued growth of the contentious side of our practice. The global impact of Covid-19 is widely predicted to include a sharp increase in litigation and investigations and the addition of Gayathri to our market-leading team gives us a great platform to support clients turning to us when their commercial and reputational interests are at stake.’

In less welcome news, the firm confirmed yesterday (18 November) that a partner had left the firm following an internal probe, with the Solicitors Regulation Authority notified of the matter.

Legal Business

‘We expect the highest standards of behaviour’: Finance partner leaves Slaughter and May following investigation

‘We expect the highest standards of behaviour’: Finance partner leaves Slaughter and May following investigation

A partner has left Slaughter and May following an internal investigation, the firm has confirmed today (18 November). Finance partner Oliver Storey has retired from the firm’s partnership with immediate effect, with Slaughters notifying the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) of the matter.

Senior partner, Steve Cooke, said in a statement: ‘Following an internal investigation, Oliver Storey has retired from the partnership with immediate effect. The SRA has been notified and we will not be commenting further at this time.

‘We expect the highest standards of behaviour from all our partners and staff. If these standards are called into question, we will not hesitate to investigate promptly and take whatever action is required.’

Storey first joined the Magic Circle firm in 2006 and was made partner ten years later. His departure from Slaughters is the latest exit of a partner from an elite firm following an internal investigation. In December last year, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Nicholas Williams left the firm following such an investigation, while in March of this year Tom Snelling also departed the firm, again following an internal investigation.

Legal Business

Freshfields and Slaughters drafted as Government reveals details of Covid-19 business support package

Freshfields and Slaughters drafted as Government reveals details of Covid-19 business support package

The UK Treasury and Bank of England (BoE) have called in their go-to counsel Slaughter and May and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as they iron out details of the multibillion-pound support scheme to underwrite British business through the coronavirus crisis.

The UK Government announced last week the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility to help companies with cash flow as the rapid spread of the virus has forced governments to put a third of the world’s population in shutdown.

Under the scheme, the BoE will buy short-term bonds to ensure businesses making a material contribution to the UK economy can continue to pay staff and suppliers, upon the condition that they demonstrate they were financially-healthy before the crisis. The facility will operate for an initial period of 12 months.

Slaughters’ finance partners Matthew Tobin, Oliver Storey and Guy O’Keefe are advising the Treasury alongside corporate partner Nilufer von Bismarck (pictured) and state aid partner Isabel Taylor. Slaughters’ core role to Whitehall echoes its high-profile mandate during the financial crisis when it advised the Treasury on a wide-ranging bank bailout.

A Freshfields team led by financial services chief Michael Raffan is acting for the BoE, the Magic Circle firm’s most celebrated client.

The scheme is one of several unprecedented economic measures disclosed by the Government in response to the unfolding crisis. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Friday (20 March) a coronavirus job retention scheme to offer all employers access to a grant covering up to 80% of the average wage to prevent widespread layoffs.

Businesses will not be expected to pay VAT for a quarter until the end of June and will not be liable for VAT deferred during that period until the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

Speaking to Legal Business about the measures, Hogan Lovells head of public law and policy Charles Brasted said they were ‘directly feeding into what our clients are thinking about in terms of how they can maximise what they retain over the next few months’.

‘It’s almost inevitably not the end of it, it’s not a one-off package,’ he added, saying that new measures will be likely to address the self-employed: ‘A lot of the measures at the moment work easily if you are on pay as you earn but not so easily if you are self-employed, and the government is looking closely about what it can do [on that front].’

Click here for all our latest coverage on the on-going coronavirus crisis

Legal Business

Slaughters makes up seven in the City with bulked-up promotion round

Slaughters makes up seven in the City with bulked-up promotion round

City blueblood Slaughter and May has promoted seven partners in the City and one in Hong Kong following an increased promotion round, with corporate receiving the lion’s share.

The promotion round sees London land four additional corporate partners, with one apiece going to the firm’s infrastructure and natural resources, investigations and financing practices respectively. In Hong Kong the one promotion came in corporate.

The promotion round is a significant increase on last year when the firm only made up one associate, with finance lawyer Harry Bacon receiving the nod. However, his promotion was announced alongside a rare hire for the firm, with Jing Chen joining as a partner in Hong Kong from the listing division of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

Slaughters senior partner Steve Cooke commented: ‘Each of these talented individuals has already established a strong track record of providing excellent advice to our clients and will make an important contribution to the continuing growth of our business. The fact that we have promoted lawyers from a broad spread of practice areas in these uncertain times reflects the underlying strength of the firm.’

Meanwhile, all associates at Slaughters received a boost earlier this year, as the firm revealed a salary boost for associates with 2.5 years post-qualified experience or more, following a significant bump in newly-qualified pay last summer.

Slaughter and May promotions in full


  • Tim Blanchard (investigations)
  • Oliver Moir (infrastructure, energy, natural resources)
  • Samay Shah (financing)
  • Alexander Dustan (corporate)
  • Natalie Cook (corporate)
  • Harry Hecht (corporate)
  • Claire Jackson (corporate)

Hong Kong

  • Ben Heron (corporate)
Legal Business

Magic Circle trio ask City staff to work from home as coronavirus crisis deepens

Magic Circle trio ask City staff to work from home as coronavirus crisis deepens

Allen & Overy (A&O), Slaughter and May and Clifford Chance have asked City staff to work from home in a bid to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

The moves come as the UK’s infection rate today [16 March] rose to 1,395 cases, 35 of which have proved fatal.

An A&O spokesperson said in a statement: ‘Allen & Overy is strongly encouraging all partners and staff in its London office to take advantage of its existing flexible working arrangements to work from home for the next few weeks in response to the spread of Covid-19. We are keeping the situation under constant review and have introduced various different working arrangements in other offices across our global network.’

Other measures the City giant has taken include international travel restrictions, in place since 1 March, cancelling larger meetings and encouraging other meetings to be handled remotely.

Slaughters has followed similar steps, asking all staff to work from home ‘where feasible to reduce overall numbers of people in the office and traveling to work.’ The arrangements will initially be in place until Friday 3rd April, with the situation kept under review, and follow a successful trial of working from home measures conducted at short notice last week.

Meanwhile CC, whose APAC employees have been working remotely for some time, has rolled out working from home for its UK, US, European and Middle East offices, and has business continuity procedures in place across all its offices.

A CC spokesperson said in a statement: ‘The firm is taking precautions seriously and is closely following all relevant government and WHO advice to ensure that we are ready to adapt to the latest guidance. Our primary focus is on ensuring the health and wellbeing of all our staff and their families.’

The London office of Linklaters, meanwhile, remains open, although a spokesperson for the firm said people are not expected to come into the office if they feel uncomfortable doing so. The firm ran a mass test last week in order for people to experience remote working. The firm has shut its Milan and Madrid office, while its Paris staff started working from home from today and its German teams will follow suit from tomorrow.

Elsewhere, Baker McKenzie has moved its London and Belfast offices to full remote working from today. A spokesperson for the firm said the offices will be closed ‘for all but essential services such as IT, couriers, post and printing so as to support the delivery of all client services, including closings and court hearings’. The firm will continue to ‘keep the position under close review’ but expected measures to be in place at least until the end of the month.

Last week, as law firms around the world were forced to take ever more radical steps in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus, Reed Smith asked its staff to work from home as Taylor Wessing closed its London office altogether after a member of staff tested positive.

Legal Business

Slaughters ups the ante on associate pay with PQE salary boost

Slaughters ups the ante on associate pay with PQE salary boost

City blueblood Slaughter and May has increased its salary for associates with 2.5 years post-qualified experience (PQE) or more, after putting newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors in line for a £100,000 pay package last summer.

The move means associates in the 2.5 PQE salary scale and above will now receive an increase of between 2.2% and 8.2%, effective this month. Last year’s pay hike only applied to those with up to 2.5 years PQE.

Last year Slaughters followed its Magic Circle counterparts in boosting NQ pay to the new £100,000 standard, which was first set by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The pay package saw a base salary of £92,000 bolstered by a bonus of around 8.5%, with the eye-catching figure a considerable increase on the firm’s previous NQ salary of £83,000.

Associates at Slaughters most recently received a bonus in December 2019 with NQs receiving an extra 8.7% on their basic salary. Meanwhile, five PQEs got a hefty 14.6% of their salaries as a bonus. Bonuses at Slaughters do not see every fee-earner receive the same percentage bonus, but those within the same pay bracket do, irrespective of hours billed.

The bonus packages are in line with 2018, when bonuses ranging from 8.25% to 14.5% were paid out as the firm revealed another lift in associate salaries.

A statement from the firm read: ‘We continue to value and recognise everyone’s contribution by rewarding our associates in a way that reflects the partnership’s flat lockstep structure and by not imposing billing or time recording targets.’

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Slaughters and Ashurst make headlines on i newspaper sale as DLA and A&O dine out on Bookatable acquisition

Dealwatch: Slaughters and Ashurst make headlines on i newspaper sale as DLA and A&O dine out on Bookatable acquisition

In a busy week for UK buyouts, Slaughter and May advised Daily Mail and General Trust on the £49.6m acquisition from JPIMedia of i newspaper and its website by its consumer media business, DMG Media.

The Slaughters team was led by corporate partner Rebecca Cousin while an Ashurst  team led by corporate partner Braeden Donnelly advised JPIMedia Group.

Donnelly told Legal Business: ‘The sale of the i newspaper to Daily Mail was a significant first step for JPIMedia in realising value for bondholders. It is also part of a wider trend we are seeing in the UK print media market where consolidation is picking up pace as media owners respond to slowing print sales and increased competition from online alternatives.’

The deal was completed on 29 November. Ashurst previously advised Johnston Press on its acquisition of the i newspaper business from Independent Print Limited in 2016.

Meanwhile, DLA Piper advised Michelin on the sale of London-headquartered restaurant reservation business Bookatable to TripAdvisor company TheFork.

The acquisition allows competitor TheFork to consolidate in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Finland and Norway meaning that 14,000 restaurants on Bookatable will join the 67,000 restaurants available on TheFork.

The DLA team was led by London partner Tim Wright and Paris partner Simon Charbit while an Allen & Overy team led by Richard Browne advised TripAdvisor.

The acquisition follows Michelin’s content and licensing partnership with TripAdvisor and its subsidiary TheFork. The partnership means that Michelin guide inspectors will be grading restaurants according to the ‘stars, bib gourmand and Michelin plate’ on the TripAdvisor and TheFork websites. 4,000 restaurants in Europe will also be available on TheFork and the Michelin Guide’s digital platform.

French firm Gide advised Michelin on the partnership with a team led by partner Guillaume Rougier-Brierre.

Elsewhere, Travers Smith has advised New York Stock Exchange-listed company Noble Corporation on the acquisition of its 50%interest in the Bully I and Bully II drillship joint ventures by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell for a value of $166m.

Shell will pay a final cash settlement of roughly $59m of to Noble for its two drillships. Nobel, which owns and operates fleets in the offshore drilling industry, issued a note payable to Shell which satisfied a portion of the buyout price.

The Travers team was led by corporate partner Richard Spedding and Shell was advised in-house.

Finally. Addleshaw Goddard advised the promotional products company Pebble Group on its flotation on the AIM market with a fundraising value of £135m. It is the eighth IPO on AIM this year and the largest in terms of funds raised. The firm also advised on the £28m essensys listing in May and the £57m Brickability Group IPO in September.

The Addleshaw team was led by corporate partner Richard Lee. Lee told Legal Business: ‘What it means for the group is that they are no longer a private equity owned business and they no longer have the debt structure that goes with the private equity ownership. It gives them an improved balance sheet because the funds they raised in the IPO have been used to pay off the debt which they were previously carrying.

‘There were preferred share structures in there, plus loan notes, plus bank debts and the purpose of the fundraising for the company was to clear out that debt,’ added Lee.

The equity fundraise was managed by Berenberg with Grant Thornton acting as adviser. A London Bird & Bird equity capital markets team led by Adam Carling advised Berenberg as broker and Grant Thornton as nominated adviser.

Legal Business

Dealwatch: Kirkland and Slaughters lead on £3.1bn Sophos take-private as Fried Frank advises on €11bn Permira final close

Dealwatch: Kirkland and Slaughters lead on £3.1bn Sophos take-private as Fried Frank advises on €11bn Permira final close

Continuing the recent trend for high-value take-private deals, the £3.1bn buyout of UK cybersecurity company Sophos Group Plc has prompted lead mandates for Slaughter and May and Kirkland & Ellis as a transatlantic team from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson advised Permira on the €11bn final close of its seventh buyout fund.

Oil & gas deals have also kept City teams busy with White & Case, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Mayer Brown all fielding teams on lead mandates.

European private equity giant Permira yesterday (16 October) announced it had reached its hard cap on the fund – Permira VII (P7) – with commitments from new and existing investors. Fundraising started in January for the fund, which will invest in the key sectors of technology, consumer, financial services, healthcare, industrial tech and services.

The Fried Frank team was led by corporate partners Richard Ansbacher (Washington, DC) and Kenneth Rosh (New York), and included London corporate partners Sam Wilson, Gregg Beechey and Mark Mifsud, as well as tax partner David Shapiro and executive compensation & ERISA partner Jeffrey Ross in New York.

Kirkland & Ellis advised Surf Buyer Limited, a newly-formed company owned by funds managed by US private equity player Thoma Bravo, on its buyout of the Oxfordshire-based Sophos Group.

The recommended cash acquisition means that Sophos shareholders will be entitled to receive $7.40 in cash per share.

Following the announcement of the buyout on Monday (14 October), Sophos share prices spiked 37% and shares were trading at 571.4 pence. The company listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2015.

The Kirkland team was led by London M&A partners David Holdsworth, David Higgins and David D’Souza and Chicago M&A partners Gerald Nowak, Corey Fox, Bradley Reed and Amelia Davis, as well as Chicago debt finance partners Francesco Penati and Maureen Dixon and London debt finance partners Kirsteen Nicol and Stephen Lucas.

Holdsworth told Legal Business: ‘We have been very active on UK P2Ps in 2019 having acted on Merlin, Inmarsat and EI Group. We expect this trend to continue into 2020.’

Slaughter and May is advising Sophos with a team led by London corporate partners Steve Cooke and Robert Innes and also including competition partner Will Turtle, employment and share schemes partner Phil Linnard and tax partner Gareth Miles.

Innes told Legal Business: ‘I think the share prices steadily going up since spring this year has recovered people’s confidence in the company. The premium they’ve offered is a de-risking of that recovery for shareholders.’

‘We’re seeing quite a lot of private equity money and a return to public-to-private in the last two years. Private equity companies are seeing value in UK stocks. I think there’s also consolidation within the tech sector as well,’ Innes added.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, White & Case advised West African oil operator Seplat Petroleum Development Company on its acquisition of Aberdeen-based and London-listed oil and gas company Eland Oil & Gas Plc for £382m. An agreement was reached with Seplat Petroleum on a recommended cash acquisition for its entire share capital.

The White & Case team was led by partners Allan Taylor, Mukund Dhar and Philip Broke.

Taylor told Legal Business: ‘The Eland assets are adjacent to Seplats’ assets in the Niger delta in Nigeria. Seplat is a company that has greater scale with a focus on being a leading independent Nigerian operator. For a number of businesses, the ability to produce assets that operate in a viable scale and picking up small individual assets in a non-strategic manner isn’t viewed as efficient by stakeholders.’

A Mayer Brown team led by corporate and securities partners Kate Ball-Dodd and Rob Hamill advised Eland.

Elsewhere, Freshfields advised Neptune Energy on its acquisition of Edison E&P’s UK and Norwegian producing, development and exploration assets from Energean Oil & Gas. The deal included a conditional agreement of $250m cash with additional cash contingent consideration of up to $30m.

The Freshfields team was led by partners Samuel Newhouse and Graham Watson. The team also advised Neptune Energy on its acquisition of ENGIE E&P in February 2018.

A White & Case team led by London partners Allan Taylor and Richard Jones along with support from partners Peita Menon (London) and Veronica Pinotti (Milan) advised Energean Oil & Gas.

Taylor told Legal Business: ‘The strategy is to focus on being the leading E&P business in the Mediterranean. They’ve identified what they consider as non-core assets and these included the Nordic assets. They are following up on their strategy for the disposal of their non-core assets.’

The firm also advised Energean earlier this year on its acquisition of Edison E&P for $750m. The acquisition is dependent on Energean completing its proposed acquisition of Edison E&P.