Deal view: Linklaters rues loss of corporate golden generation but in Covid era inherent strengths remain

Deal view: Linklaters rues loss of corporate golden generation but in Covid era inherent strengths remain

Thomas Alan finds resilience at the heart of Linklaters, but without meaningful change the firm risks breathing life into unfavourable clichés.

‘It could and should have been a golden generation,’ laments one former Linklaters corporate partner, now at a US firm. ‘But that generation has been decimated.’ Continue reading “Deal view: Linklaters rues loss of corporate golden generation but in Covid era inherent strengths remain”

Deal View: After years of missed opportunities Weil flirts with a broader City advance

Deal View: After years of missed opportunities Weil flirts with a broader City advance

Investment in Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ City arm has long come in fits and starts, avoiding broader M&A ambitions to become a well-regarded private equity player, while arguably being outpaced by US rivals Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Questions also linger around who will lead when Mike Francies, its veteran London managing partner, steps down. Is the recent flurry of laterals evidence that Weil is ready to seize the City breakthrough that has long looked frustratingly just out of reach?

For critics, the firm has only itself to blame as Weil has long been held back in London by a lack of cohesion or vision about where to take the practice, even as a group of US rivals have steamed ahead in the last five years. Notes one former partner: ‘Someone senior told me years ago: “We’re not a partnership, we’re a group of individuals who choose to work together.” In the States, it was a restructuring firm and people used to call it “We’ll Get You and Mangle You!”’ Continue reading “Deal View: After years of missed opportunities Weil flirts with a broader City advance”

Deal View: Freshfields silences critics with four-piece Cleary team but can it keep up the pressure on Wall St?

Deal View: Freshfields silences critics with four-piece Cleary team but can it keep up the pressure on Wall St?

‘Supercharging it’ and ‘pretty wild’ are not superlatives usually cropping up on your average conference call with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. If the conversation with Ethan Klingsberg (pictured), the Wall Street M&A star that led a four-partner team exit from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, was not very Freshfields, Edward Braham’s unrestrained enthusiasm for the hires when the news broke in October was similarly striking for the unfailingly understated senior partner. Reinforcing how much Freshfields had riding on this, Braham was in New York personally supervising the move upon announcement.

Even critics of Freshfields’ slow-and-steady US strategy are applauding the Cleary haul – the prominent M&A veteran Klingsberg, Meredith Kotler, Pamela Marcogliese and Paul Tiger – as the kind of daring statement that has been previously missing. ‘I admire them for having a go,’ admits one ex-partner, now at a US firm, expressing the consensus view. Continue reading “Deal View: Freshfields silences critics with four-piece Cleary team but can it keep up the pressure on Wall St?”

Deal View: A&O’s corporate practice has matured nicely but will O’Melveny fallout take its toll?

Deal View: A&O’s corporate practice has matured nicely but will O’Melveny fallout take its toll?

Habitually viewed as the poor relation to its unparalleled banking and finance practice, Allen & Overy (A&O)’s corporate team has stepped up in recent years, the culmination of a decades-spanning campaign to forge a top-tier name in M&A.

Richard Browne, co-head of corporate, stresses the level of growth the 161-partner practice has seen, having increased its fee income by 50% in the last decade. ‘In the dark ages when I started, A&O’s corporate practice was not the best. It was a banking and finance firm. That is no longer the case at all. Corporate has become the same size as the banking business. It is incredibly profitable, with top-tier work and clients.’ Continue reading “Deal View: A&O’s corporate practice has matured nicely but will O’Melveny fallout take its toll?”

Deal View: Five years on – How Akin Gump’s Bingham acquisition turned bust to boom in the City

Deal View: Five years on – How Akin Gump’s Bingham acquisition turned bust to boom in the City

‘Our team was nearly twice the size of Akin Gump’s London team. There was potential for vulnerability on both sides. They didn’t want their entire lives disrupted by a very large cuckoo in the nest.’ Five years on, restructuring partner James Roome reflects on the potential pitfalls of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s 28-partner acquisition of the City arm of his former shop, Boston’s ill-fated Bingham McCutchen.

In contrast to more ostentatious US counterparts, the Texas-bred Akin Gump has since flown under the radar to turn Bingham’s bust into its boom, thanks largely to the trophy restructuring team fronted by Roome. City growth has culminated in a blistering 2018 run as revenue spiked 28% to $123.5m, catapulting it into Legal Business’ Global London top ten firms by revenue. Continue reading “Deal View: Five years on – How Akin Gump’s Bingham acquisition turned bust to boom in the City”

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”