Deal View: Despite that late start, Willkie underlines surprisingly forceful City buyout push with hire of GavDav

Deal View: Despite that late start, Willkie underlines surprisingly forceful City buyout push with hire of GavDav

Affectionately known in buyout circles as ‘GavDav’, the long-time duo of private equity specialists Gavin Gordon and David Arnold has finally landed at Willkie Farr & Gallagher from Kirkland & Ellis after months of speculation.

While Kirkland may play down its significance, it is nevertheless a rare and high-profile exit for the Chicago-bred juggernaut and a chance for Willkie – a firm whose progress in the City has been muted compared with many US peers given the quality of its US private equity practice – to finally get its brand on the radar in London. Continue reading “Deal View: Despite that late start, Willkie underlines surprisingly forceful City buyout push with hire of GavDav”

Deal View: Goodwin’s City practice goes beyond the clichés with 58% revenue growth

Deal View: Goodwin’s City practice goes beyond the clichés with 58% revenue growth

The cliché says that you have to start somewhere and so Goodwin Procter’s London branch did in 2011 with a solitary partner at a desk with a phone. While it arrived late to the City – fellow Boston outfit Ropes & Gray beat it by a couple of years and has enjoyed a very strong run since – now it is Goodwin’s turn.

City revenue grew 58% in 2018, more than three times the pace of the firm globally, hitting $66.8m in the same year it launched a European life sciences practice and amid a punchy 16% hike in global turnover to $1.2bn. Profit per equity partner saw a 14% spike to $2.46m and revenue per lawyer grew 10% to $1.25m, showing the firm has performed to every metric of success both in the City and in its other offices in Boston, New York and San Francisco. Continue reading “Deal View: Goodwin’s City practice goes beyond the clichés with 58% revenue growth”

Deal View: ‘Tooling up’ – Activist funds edging into the mainstream of UK deal scene

Deal View: ‘Tooling up’ – Activist funds edging into the mainstream of UK deal scene

‘Most listed companies have run across activists by now or at least come close,’ says Andy Ryde, Slaughter and May’s head of corporate. Shareholder activism, once barely registering on UK shores, is becoming a fact of life for corporate counsel. Is the trend set to continue?

Allen & Overy (A&O) M&A partner Richard Browne certainly thinks so: ‘The stock market has been going strong over the last couple of years and it is harder for activists to gain traction because shareholders are seeing prices go up. There is likely to be an explosion in activist-driven deals when the market turns.’ Continue reading “Deal View: ‘Tooling up’ – Activist funds edging into the mainstream of UK deal scene”

Deal View: Warlords in Paris – Kirkland’s long march to the French capital

Deal View: Warlords in Paris – Kirkland’s long march to the French capital

For a 109-year-old giant that fielded just 12 offices at the beginning of 2017, Kirkland & Ellis has had an expansive 18 months. Of course, there is never a better time to invest than the year in which your firm became the highest-grossing legal outfit in the world as Kirkland did in 2018 after posting $3.165bn. But it is still notable that of the five branches launched since Jeffrey Hammes took over as chair in 2010, three were announced since May 2017.

While earlier Boston and Dallas launches reflect a well-established ambition in its home market, news of Kirkland’s plans for a new arm in Paris signal a more symbolic extension of empire. Only Kirkland’s third branch in Europe, it comes more than two decades after London and almost 14 years after its Munich debut. Continue reading “Deal View: Warlords in Paris – Kirkland’s long march to the French capital”

Deal View: Herbert Smith Freehills’ corporate team – credibility and polish only get you so far up the table

Deal View: Herbert Smith Freehills’ corporate team – credibility and polish only get you so far up the table

‘It’s like the rivalry between Fulham and Chelsea,’ notes one former Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) partner of his old club’s oft-cited tension between corporate and disputes. ‘Fulham fans think of Chelsea as one of its biggest rivals. Chelsea fans think of Fulham as that nice team down the road.’

No prizes for guessing that it is corporate that represents the plucky underdog in this reading. At a glance, such a comparison seems uncharitable. HSF’s corporate team is ranked in The Legal 500’s second tier for premium M&A deals, alongside Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance; most peers still regard its City corporate team as the best outside the Magic Circle. The legacy Herbert Smith also has a history stretching back to the 19th century as one of London’s prominent corporate solicitors, long before its embryonic disputes team invented the modern City model of running litigation as a substantive business line in the 1970s. Continue reading “Deal View: Herbert Smith Freehills’ corporate team – credibility and polish only get you so far up the table”

High (street) stakes as Gaucho collapses into administration and House of Fraser saga takes yet another twist

High (street) stakes as Gaucho collapses into administration and House of Fraser saga takes yet another twist

‘There’s going to be a lot of distress on the high street,’ Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner Adam Plainer told Legal Business last autumn in an extended assessment of the City restructuring outlook. Given that insolvency lawyers have been confidently – and wrongly – predicting a flood of work since the banking crisis, such claims generally attract some scepticism. Yet the forces battering the high street did indeed in 2018 send a string of familiar names to the corporate vultures.

This summer’s collapse of Gaucho Group, the owner of premium Argentinian steak purveyors Gaucho and Cau, became only the latest casualty, amid a malaise that has seen dining and retail stalwarts struggle with shifting consumer behaviour and rising overheads. Continue reading “High (street) stakes as Gaucho collapses into administration and House of Fraser saga takes yet another twist”

Comment: Deal View – DLA moves house in London but can it break free?

Comment: Deal View – DLA moves house in London but can it break free?

Shifting to an agile-working office is a peculiar experience. Two camps quickly emerge: those excited by change and colleagues happy with decades-old paper in a pile on their desk. It is unsettling, yet can galvanise a workforce.

DLA Piper is similarly moving into a bespoke, semi-open-plan office this year – its single-largest capital investment ever. The flagship London HQ unites 360 lawyers from two separate offices, a grand total of 633 steps down the road. A new environment will be embraced by many, but for some the gloss quickly wears off. Continue reading “Comment: Deal View – DLA moves house in London but can it break free?”

Deal View: DLA moves house in London but can it break free?

Deal View: DLA moves house in London but can it break free?

Shifting to an agile-working office is a peculiar experience. Two camps quickly emerge: those excited by change and colleagues happy with decades-old paper in a pile on their desk. It is unsettling, yet can galvanise a workforce.

DLA Piper is similarly moving into a bespoke, semi-open-plan office this year – its single-largest capital investment ever. The flagship London HQ unites 360 lawyers from two separate offices, a grand total of 633 steps down the road. A new environment will be embraced by many, but for some the gloss quickly wears off. Continue reading “Deal View: DLA moves house in London but can it break free?”