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  1. Private equity: transactions – Large-cap deal capability
  2. Private equity: transactions – Mid-cap deal capability
  3. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

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The Private equity: transactions coverage is organised into large-cap and mid-cap deal rankings. Law firms are written about in alphabetical order, and may appear in one or both of the rankings tables. There is a separate section covering Venture capital in the Corporate and commercial chapter.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP, has a first-rate reputation in the mid-market arena, acting for clients such as 3i, Graphite Capital and LDC; the team provides ‘consistently strong, commercially focused advice’. In 2015, Mike Hinchliffe advised ECI Partners on its high-profile MBO of Evans Cycles. In another highlight, practice head Yunus Seedat and Nathan Pearce advised Phoenix Equity Partners and NVM (as the previous owners) and the management shareholders of CloserStill on the company’s sale to Inflexion. The group also acted for Kurt Geiger’s management team during the company’s proposed acquisition by Cinven.

Persuasive negotiator’ Sebastian Rice leads Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s team, which has expertise in international private equity transactions involving emerging markets such as Russia; clients include UFG Private Equity and Baring Vostok. The firm advised Damovo and its investors on the sale of its European operations to Oakley Capital and the Daisy Group. Harry Keegan, John Clark and Vance Chapman are also recommended.

At Allen & Overy LLP, Stephen Lloyd led the advice to 3i on the sale of Element Materials Technology to Bridgepoint. In another highlight, Lloyd, Gordon Milne and others acted for OMERS Private Equity and AIMCo on the $1.7bn acquisition of Environmental Resources Management. Karan Dinamani, who ‘homes in on the truly key issues’, and George Knighton are other names to note in the team, which has ‘a strong commitment to client service’.

Equally highly regarded in mid-cap and large-cap transactions, Blackstone, Agilitas and Oaktree are among Ashurst’s key clients. In a notable highlight, Nick Rainsford and Tom Mercer acted for Abertis on its €948m acquisition of a 50% interest in Chile’s Autopista Central toll road from AIMCo. The firm also acted for LA Fitness and its shareholders on the sale of the business to Pure Gym. David Carter heads the team, which includes Bruce Hanton, Simon Beddow and Karen Davies.

Baker McKenzie LLP serves as ‘a one-stop shop’ in complex, multi-jurisdictional deals; the team is regarded as being ‘timely, attentive and responsive’ and ‘its work product is always impeccable’. The firm undertakes transactions across a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, TMT and energy. David Allen and others handled Bain Capital’s acquisition of Davigel from Nestlé. The firm also acts for CVC, Macquarie Group and KKR. Karen Guch, Tim Sheddick, Jannan Crozier are the other key figures along with the ‘pragmatic and responsiveCharles Whitefoord.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’ practice head Malcolm MacDougall advised the management team of Blackrock Programme Management on an investment made into the business by Dunedin LLP. MacDougall also acted for the management team of Excellence Logging (led by Bruno Burban and Benoit Debray) on its investment into the company, alongside Blue Water Energy. Adrian Mayer is experienced in private equity investments in emerging markets, particularly sub-Saharan Africa.

At Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, a cross-border team including Michael McDonald and Sam Bagot assisted MBK Partners and its affiliates with the $6.4bn acquisition of Homeplus and its subsidiaries from Tesco. The firm also acted for an international consortium during the buyout of Cushman & Wakefield by the consortium’s portfolio company, DTZ. Michael Preston transferred to the London office from Hong Kong. CVC, Silverpoint and Warburg Pincus are also clients.

Clifford Chance is ‘a go-to for the most complex transactions’, including those involving the Middle East, Africa and other emerging markets. The firm ‘excels in business acumen and strength in depth’. Spencer Baylin heads the firm’s emerging markets M&A and private equity practice. Nigel Wellings and Nicholas Hughes have African private equity experience. Global head of private equity Jonny Myers led cross-border teams which handled Cinven’s €1.3bn buyout of Labco from a consortium of investors, as well as its concurrent €1.7bn acquisition of Synlab from BC Partners. Head of the London private equity practice David Pearson acts for clients such as Electra and Permira.

CMS impresses in domestic and multi-jurisdictional transactions. Martin Treagus and senior associate Angela Clump acted for Oakley Capital Partners and the founding shareholders of Verivox in the company’s sale to ProSieben. Practice head James Grimwood handled LDC’s acquisition of online travel agent iglu.com and, separately, its acquisition of PEI Media. Another highlight involved acting for Sovereign Capital during the £92m sale of Alcumus Group to Inflexion. Douglas Crawford joined Brodies LLP.

DLA Piper’s ‘highly responsive’ team undertakes mid-cap and large-cap deals. It handled HIG Europe’s acquisition of Adelie Foods from India Hospitality Corporation, and assisted Duke Street and Europa Capital with the sale of their investments in SandpiperCl to a consortium of Channel Islands based investors. UK private equity head David Raff is described as ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove’; other key names include Tim Wright, the ‘exceptionally talentedEdward Griffiths and Tim Lake, who is ‘strong and pragmatic’.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s Geoffrey Burgess, practice head David Innes and others are advising Helios on its acquisition of Orange Group’s 70% stake in Telkom Kenya. E Raman Bet-Mansour and Katherine Ashton are other key contacts at the firm, whose other clients include TA Associates, HarbourVest and Deutsche Bank.

Dechert LLP’s Simon Briggs led the advice to L Capital Asia and M1 Fashion on their acquisition of the Pepe Jeans Group. ‘Consummate legal adviserGraham Defries, who ‘protects your interests with panache’, and Andrew Harrow acted for XO1 in its sale to Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Jonathan Angell and Adam Levin are other names to note. Adam Levin is ‘an excellent, precise and experienced lawyer for corporate structuring advice and execution’.

DentonsIgor Krivoshekov* – who is ‘a great technical lawyer’ – and Eleanor Shanks*, who is ‘always willing to fight for the best possible terms’, led a cross-practice team which advised L1 Energy on its $5.7bn acquisition of RWE Dea. Matthew Tinger worked with a cross-office team to assist KSL Capital Partners with the £363m sale of the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin group to Frasers Hospitality UK Holdings. Nicholas Plant heads the firm’s African private equity practice. Another key name is associate Kasit Rochanakorn*, who ‘goes beyond the market standard to create bespoke solutions’. Stephen Levy joined from Pinsent Masons LLP. *Kasit Rochanakorn joined White & Case LLP in August 2016 and Igor Krivoshekov joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in December 2016. Eleanor Shanks joined Proskauer Rose LLP in December 2016.

Illustrative of Dickson Minto WS’ first-rate reputation in high-profile mandates, the firm acted for the management team of Wood Mackenzie during the company’s £1.85bn sale by Hellman & Friedman and other shareholders to Verisk Analytics. In another highlight, it acted for Charterhouse during its sale of a stake in Environmental Resources Management. Alastair Dickson is one of the key individuals.

Eversheds LLP’s Richard Moulton, who chairs the international private equity group, undertakes European buyouts and UK mid-cap transactions. In 2015, Moulton’s team advised LDC on its £307m acquisition of NEC Group from Birmingham City Council and also acted for CBPE Capital and the management team of IDIS during the company’s £225m sale to Clinigen Group plc. Louise Finnie made partner.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is among the market leaders for large-cap private equity transactions, handling some of the market’s most high-profile deals. In 2015, David Higgins and senior associate James Scott led the advice to Blackstone on the sale of Center Parcs to Brookfield. Adrian Maguire recently assisted Warburg Pincus with its £230m acquisition of a majority stake in Reiss Holdings.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP acts for mega-fund clients and mid-market sponsors in a gamut of matters, such as LBOs, MBOs/MBIs and dispositions. Graham White’s team includes Dan Oates, who worked with the New York office to advise KKR on its acquisition of a minority stake in Marshall Wace. In another highlight, Oates and others acted for CVC Capital Partners and its portfolio company Wireless Logic on the acquisition of SimService SAS. Onex Partners, Permira Advisors and Dyal Capital Partners are other notable clients.

Charlie Geffen leads Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s team, whose transactional capabilities are complemented by the firm’s finance and regulatory expertise. The practice has expanded significantly; recent hires include Stephen Gillespie, who joined from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP, and James Perry, who moved from Ashurst. In 2015, the firm acted for Lone Star Funds in its $1.4bn acquisition of Hanson Building Products. Apollo, Oaktree Capital and AnaCap are also clients. Mark Sperotto, who has nearly 20 years’ experience in private equity transactions, is recommended along with Nick Tomlinson, Wayne McArdle and Nigel Stacey.

In 2015, Goodwin augmented its practice by hiring current practice head Richard Lever and Simon Fulbrook from King & Wood Mallesons. In addition to increasing its headcount, the firm has also won mandates from clients such as ECI Capital, Graphite and Better Capital. Lever recently led the advice to JMI Services and JMI Equity in the acquisition of a stake in Irish outsourcing company CoreHR.

In addition to having a footprint in the UK mid-market space, where it acts for clients such as LDC and Mobeus Equity Partners, Gowling WLG also advises on international transactions. Ian Piggin heads the group, which acted for Cooperatief H2 Equity Partners Fund IV on the sale of its interest in Phoenix Advance, and advised Virtus Data Centres on its £70m acquisition of ISDC Developments (No 5) Limited from Infinity SDC. Andy Stylianou, Jeremy Millington and Gareth Baker are recommended.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP undertakes UK and cross-border transactions across a wide range of sectors, including: infrastructure and energy, real estate and TMT. In 2015, Mark Bardell and newly promoted partner John Taylor acted for EPIC in the $1bn sale of Moto to USS. In another highlight, Ben Ward and Taylor worked with a cross-border team to handle Photobox’s sale to Exponent and Electra. Mark Geday and Tomasz Wozniak relocated to the London office from Moscow. Geday took over as practice head from James Macarthur, who joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Clients appreciate Hogan Lovells International LLP’s ‘high level of partner involvement’ in domestic and cross-border transactions. In addition to acting for notable clients such as Vitruvian and Ares Management, it also advises management teams and investee companies. Highlights for Tom Whelan’s team included advising the senior management of Iglo Group on its €2.6bn sale to Nomad Holdings, and assisting Actis with the disposal of its majority stake in Mouka to the Abraaj Group. Whelan ‘brings real market knowledge to the deal’ and Ed Harris ‘gets the job done’, while other names to note are Amit Nayyar, Keith Woodhouse and Robert Darwin. Derek Meilman relocated to London from New York.

Jones Day’s Adam Greaves, Mike Weir and Ben Shribman advised Inflexion on its investment in CloserStill Media. In another highlight, Weir and Raymond McKeeve acted for Blackstone in its acquisition of Ideal Shopping Direct. The firm also advised Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund on the sale of Wightlink Ferries to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners. Global private equity co-head Patrick Stafford is a key adviser to The Riverside Company.

King & Wood Mallesons has strong mid-cap and large-cap deal capabilities. Andrew Wingfield acted for Intermediate Capital Group in its £1.2bn disposal of private equity interests in a portfolio of 34 European companies to a US investor. In the mid-cap space, Jonathan Pittal – who has ‘well-honed commercial skills’ – and others acted for Bowmark Capital in the circa £115m sale of Healthcare Homes to the company’s management team and Omega Healthcare. Centerbridge Partners, Graphite and Investcorp are other notable clients. Rob Day is also recommended along with Warren Allan, who has ‘excellent all-round knowledge of transactions’. Laura Brunnen joined from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP, while Richard Lever moved to Goodwin.

Kirkland & Ellis International LLP has an outstanding reputation in the private equity arena, advising some of the most prominent investment managers – Summit Partners, Apax and EQT – on their most complex multi-jurisdictional mandates. David Eich and Justin Hutchinson advised Bain Capital on its circa $1.3bn sale of FCI Asia to Amphenol. Gavin Gordon acted for Vista Equity Partners in the £725m acquisition of Advanced Computer Software Group. David Arnold is ‘very clear about where the market is’. The firm hired a number of individuals from Linklaters LLP, including: Roger Johnson, Matthew Elliott, David Holdsworth and Tim Lowe. James Learner re-joined the firm from HGGC, while Christian Iwasko and Sava Savov moved to Sidley Austin LLP.

Latham & Watkins features prominently in large-cap European buyout transactions and deals further afield. In 2015, it acted for Hellman & Friedman in its €4.8bn acquisition of Securitas Direct Verisure Group from Bain Capital. Kem Ihenacho and Simon Tysoe are acting for Helios Investment Partners in its acquisition with Vitol Holding of an equity stake in Oando’s West African downstream business. ‘True deal partnerDavid Walker heads the practice, which includes Mike Bond, Tom Evans and recently promoted partner Farah O’Brien.

Linklaters LLPreally knows how to deliver a quality partner-led product’ and has ‘one of the leading private equity practices’. In 2015, it acted for Apollo in its almost €3bn acquisition of Verallia, and advised Hutchison 3G UK on the £3.1bn sale of a 33% stake in the UK telecoms business to a consortium of investors. Other key clients include Brait, HgCapital and Carlyle. Practice head Alex Woodward is ‘a real star, mixing commercial acumen with strong technical skills’. Also recommended are Carlton Evans and newly promoted partner Will Aitken-Davies, who is ‘very precise and commercial’. Ben Rodham joined from Shearman & Sterling LLP.

Macfarlanes LLP is instructed in mid-cap and large-cap transactions, where it acts for sponsors, lenders and management teams, among other parties. Stephen Drewitt acted for Appleby on the sale of its fiduciary business, Appleby Fiduciary & Administration, to Bridgepoint. Alex Edmondson and Ian Martin advised Candlewick (a joint venture between Goldman Sachs and TPG) on the sale of the Kew Green Hotels group to HK CTS Metropark Hotels. Other clients include 3i, Graphite, TPG and Lexington. Howard Corney has particular expertise in the African market and Luke Powell is another key name.

McDermott Will & Emery UK LLP’s ‘technically excellent’ mid-market focused team acts for clients such as Ambienta, HIG Capital and Oroco Capital. Practice head Mark Davis, who has particular expertise in cross-border transactions, worked with Eleanor West to advise US investor Levine Leichtman on its LBO of Ireland-based CJ Fallon.

Management advisory work is a growth area at Mishcon de Reya LLP, which acted for the management team of Eurotaxglass’ Group in a hostile takeover by Hayfin Capital Management. Kevin McCarthy leads the team, which includes Michael Nouril, who joined from Proskauer Rose LLP, and Stephen Diosi, who was hired from Ashurst. Nouril acted for Woodford Investment Management in an investment into life sciences company Immunocore. Eve Ellis moved to O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP’s Stephen Walters led the advice to SK and minority co-owner Ion Beam Applications on the sale of IBA Molecular to CapVest. Tom Cartwright is a key contact at the firm, whose other clients include Pantheon Ventures and MML Capital Partners.

Led by Richard Bull, Norton Rose Fulbright’s team combines cross-border transactional experience with market knowledge across a wide range of sectors, including energy, transport, life sciences and healthcare. Bull acted for CHAMP Ventures and the other selling shareholders in the $70m sale of Taura Holdings to Frutarom Industries. In another highlight, Jason Moss led a cross-office team in advising Denham Capital on its sale of Fotowatio Renewable Ventures to Abdul Latif Jameel. AnaCap, Control Circle and Scottish Equity Partners are other clients. Bayo Odubeko has expertise in Africa-focused transactions.

Olswang LLP’s Chris Mackie acted for Bowmark Capital in the MBO of insurance broker Aston Scott Group. Duncan McDonald is another key name in the team, which is also active in management-side matters. Fabrizio Carpanini, who was succeeded by Mackie as practice head, joined Dorsey & Whitney, as did Carsten Greve.

Alisdair Livingstone leads Osborne Clarke’s practice, which is gaining momentum; recent client wins include HIG European Capital, Ambienta and SEA Equity. Mark Spinner handled the £241m acquisition of Gala Coral’s Retail Bingo business for Caledonia Unquoted Investments and advised the management team of Alcumus Holdings on its sale by Sovereign Capital to Inflexion. Mathias Loertscher made partner in 2015. Sarah Crabtree joined from Reed Smith LLP.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s practice has mid-market focus, where the firm acts for institutional clients across a wide range of matters, including: MBOs, MBIs, acquisitions and disposals. Cross-border transactions are a notable growth area; practice head Gregg Davison advised ECI Partners and the management team on the sale of Fourth Hospitality Group to Insight Venture Partners, a US technology fund. In another highlight, Tom Leman acted for Clearwater Seafood in its £115m acquisition of MacDuff International from Change Capital Partners and Beaton family. Andrew Phillips made partner.

The ‘very experienced and knowledgeableMaurice Dwyer leads RPC’s team, which has ‘a practical, hands-on approach’ to mid-cap transactions. Neil Brown led on Alere’s $164m sale of BBI Diagnostics to Exponent. In another highlight, the firm acted for DMG Media and Wowcher’s management team in the sale of Wowcher to Exponent. Other clients include ArchiMed, Lyceum Capital and LDC. David Marshall is recommended along with recent hire Graham Spalding, who joined from Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP.

Reed Smith LLP handles UK mid-market transactions and larger cross-border deals. Philip Taylor led the advice to the management shareholders at Kelway on the $700m sale of the business to Core Capital. FTV Capital, HIG Europe and Sovereign Capital are other clients. Taylor and James Cross jointly lead the practice following the departure of former head Perry Yam to Mayer Brown International LLP, followed by James West. Sarah Crabtree joined Osborne Clarke. Andrew Clark made partner.

Ropes & Gray LLP has ‘an invaluable wealth of market knowledge’ and represents clients such as Bain Capital, Summit Partners and European Capital. Philip Sanderson, John Newton and others advised 3i on its acquisition of Audley Travel from Equistone. Newton also acted for TPG during its $150m takeover of Poundworld. Other well-regarded members of the team are Kiran Sharma, who is ‘cool in a crisis’, and the ‘astute’ Will Rosen.

Shearman & Sterling LLP has a strong reputation in complex multi-jurisdictional transactions; its notable client roster includes Investcorp, Arle and Vitruvian. Practice head Mark Soundy and Sarah Priestley acted for Electra as a co-investor alongside Patron Capital in the £325m acquisition of Grainger Retirement Solutions. The firm also assisted Bridgepoint with the sale of international life sciences company LGC to KKR. Matthew Powell made partner and Frank Miller joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. Ben Rodham moved to Linklaters LLP.

Simmons & Simmons particularly excels in cross-border deals, particularly those involving regulated markets, such as life sciences, TMT and financial services. Gideon Sharp and Arthur Stewart, who is ‘reliable and trustworthy’, jointly lead the team, which advised Orion Resource Partners (USA) on a joint venture with Fusion AG to form Lynx Resources, and handled Lynx’s subsequent acquisition of SASA from Solway Investment Group. Brookfield, Catterton Partners and Charterhouse are other notable clients.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP undertakes complex multi-jurisdictional transactions for high-end institutional clients such as Apax, Blackstone and Charterhouse. Alvaro Membrillera advised KKR on its acquisition of a combined 50% stake in Välinge. Adam Signy has ‘oceans of knowledge and experience’, and Derek Baird and Clare Gaskell are other key names. Wheatly MacNamara and James Connor recently made partner and counsel respectively.

Slaughter and May’s private equity team leverages expertise in areas such as M&A, banking and finance, as well as capital markets, to undertake a range of transactions for clients. Jeff Twentyman leads the practice, which also includes Susannah Macknay, who is leading the advice to Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital on their joint acquisition of Currencies Direct. Other clients include Oaktree Capital, Apollo and Värde Partners. Murray Cox was promoted to partner.

Squire Patton Boggs focuses on mid-market transactions, acting for clients such as ECI Partners, LDC and Bregal Freshstream. In 2015, Tim Hewens, Peter Morley and Edward Dawes advised the shareholders and management of Reward Gateway on a £140m secondary buyout by Great Hill Partners. James McKay is experienced in acting for management teams.

Timothy Emmerson heads the European M&A practice at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, which handled the acquisition of an 18% stake in Entertainment One for Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and dealt with a subsequent £194m rights issue. The firm also advised Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division on Hastings Group’s £1.1bn IPO and London Stock Exchange listing. Ben Perry, Richard Morrissey and Nikolaos Andronikos are recommended.

At Taylor Wessing LLP, ‘response times are fast and answers are comprehensive’. Led by James Goold, the team undertakes UK and international transactions for private equity houses, portfolio companies and management houses. In 2015, Emma Danks led a cross-border team which advised Caledonia Investments plc on the sale of TGE Marine to a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding. Robert Fenner and Nick Hazell are among other key names in the team, which acts for clients such as Rutland Partners and Synova Capital.

Travers Smith LLP has a particularly outstanding reputation in the mid-cap arena, where it attracts high-profile and complex mandates for clients such as Bridgepoint, 3i and Silverfleet. Practice head Paul Dolman acted for TA Associates on the €220m sale of Belgian image sensor company CMOSIS to ams, while Ian Shawyer advised Carlyle on the £200m sale of The Foundry to HgCapital. The firm also handles a significant amount of large-cap work, which recently included James Renahan acting for Equistone and the other selling shareholders in the £402m sale of Easynet to Interoute. Industry veteran Chris Hale is another key name.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP acts for European mid-market private equity clients in transactions involving sectors such as energy and infrastructure, natural resources and transport. Jan Mellmann leads the team, which acts for clients such as Aurelius Capital, Tufton Oceanic and Maas Capital Investments. In 2015, Andy Savage joined from Norton Rose Fulbright and Nigel Taylor was hired from Clyde & Co LLP.

Big-brand firmWeil, Gotshal & Manges has ‘a truly excellent private equity offering’. ‘Mega-starMarco Compagnoniruns a very tight ship, with no over-lawyering’, in conjunction with Michael Francies. The firm provides a full service to high-calibre clients such as Centerbridge and Lion Capital in large-scale multi-jurisidictional transactions, with its financing capabilities being a particular strong suit. Highlights included acting for Advent International and Bain Capital on their €2.2bn joint acquisition with Clessidra of ICBPI. James Harvey recently made partner. Jonathan Wood, Samantha McGonigle and Simon Lyell are all recommended.

White & Case LLP has ‘good jurisdictional coverage across key European countries’. Jointly led by Ian Bagshaw and Richard Youle, its team ‘identifies key issues that need to be addressed at each stage of a transaction’. Clients also appreciate ‘the good blend of skillsets which are brought to a situation as appropriate’, including restructuring, finance, regulatory and capital markets. Highlights included acting for an international consortium in the acquisition of the Tank & Rast group from Terra Firma and RREEF. Arle Capital, CVC and HgCapital are notable clients. In 2015, Caroline Sherrell joined from Clifford Chance and Kenneth Barry was hired from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Emma Parr recently made partner.

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