Legal Business

Back at the gate: US invaders raise fresh questions over private equity status of CC and Linklaters


David Stevenson surveys a fast-changing buyout landscape to find US ‘barbarians’ once again pressing in on City leaders

Unfortunately for top City firms looking to defend their position in private equity, it takes more than a five-year freeze in credit markets and a sustained downturn in leveraged buyouts to stop foreign rivals trying to move in on their patch.

Such a dynamic has once again thrown scrutiny on Linklaters’ now decade-long effort to carve a credible position in the private equity market and the position of Clifford Chance (CC), by contrast traditionally established as the market leader in Europe’s buyout scene.

In the former case, the debate continues among peers (and some internally at Silk Street) over the extent to which Linklaters has forged a practice worthy of its much-vaunted general corporate team. In CC’s case, a purple patch in public M&A last year arguably did not extend to private equity, while the firm has had to contend with the resignation in April of global head of private equity David Walker for Latham & Watkins.