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Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is ‘outstanding – the firm has created a best-in-market team, with a bench of lawyers so equally good that clients get the same level of service from the most senior to the most junior’. The practice handles a number of agenda-setting fund formations for the world’s largest managers, alongside co-investment and platform work. Gareth Earl is ‘the man: he is great, thoughtful and works really well with private equity houses’ – he advised Cinven Partners on forming its sixth fund, which raised €7bn using a master-feeder structure to handle ERISA considerations as well as an ‘early bird discount’ in the management fee structure. Practice head Jason Glover also advised Apax Partners on its ninth buyout fund, which held a first closing at its $9bn target, featuring a dual-currency structure giving investors the choice between investing in dollars or euros. Another partner of note is Seema Shah, who worked with Glover and Earl on the raising of Actis Energy 4, a $2.5bn fund. At the senior associate level, Amy Fox and Daniel Lloyd are ‘up and coming junior lawyers’. The firm also acts for CVC Capital Partners, EQT and FSN Capital.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLPprovides a strong team to clients, with expertise in different areas including advice to both managers and investors’. Ed Gander heads a team which straddles asset classes, advising a number of blue-chip clients in the sector. In emerging markets, keynote deals included advising The Abraaj Group on several launches, while credit highlights included advising Incus Capital on an Iberia-targeted credit fund, which raised €270m. In the infrastructure arena, the firm counts Dalmore Capital as a client. The firm also advises major institutional investors on their investments as limited partners. Newly-elected partner James Sargent is ‘very personable and knowledgeable, and very good at sticking to deadlines’. Nigel Clark and Stephen Fox are more established names of note. Associate Marc Schubert is ‘a regulatory specialist – he is always able to explain complex and detailed regulatory matters in a straightforward way’. Other clients include Argos Soditic, KKR and EISER Infrastructure Partners.

Clifford Chance’s team, headed by Nigel Hatfield and also including the ‘impressive’ Gerard Saviola, handles a range of heavyweight funds work including debt funds, infrastructure funds, and buyout funds, some of which concerning emerging markets. Alexandra Davidson was elected to the partnership in 2016, while Simon Crown is a name of note in the regulatory sphere. The firm acts for sector luminaries such as Bridgepoint, Equistone, 3i, InfraCapital and Deutsche Bank.

Dealing with mandates often at the crossroads between private funds and hedge funds, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has ‘very high business acumen and provides high-quality advice’ across the funds space, covering venture capital, debt and buyout funds, as well as some mandates for significant institutional investors. New York-qualified practice head Geoffrey Kittredge advised Park Square Capital on the launch of Park Square Capital Partners III, a €1.2bn debt fund. Sally Gibson advised EQT on the launch of a venture capital fund, which raised €570m. Other clients include KEEN Venture Partners (a new venture capital manager which Kittredge advised on launching its first fund, which raised €90m from investors including the European Investment Fund), investment banks such as Morgan Stanley, plus British and international institutional investors.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP provides ‘extremely good client service – the team has very good commercial awareness and technical skills, with an in-depth knowledge of the industry’. The firm handles a range of fund formations across asset classes, as well as heavyweight investor-side work. Practice head Mark Mifsud advised Permira on its latest fund, Permira VI, which closed in December 2016 after accumulating commitments of €7.5bn to deploy on a premium buyout strategy. Kate Downey is ‘extremely technically strong and communicates in a straightforward and clear manner’ – she and Mifsud advised Norvestor Equity on the launch of its seventh fund, which reached its hard cap of 4.8bn NOK. Also in the Scandinavian mid-market arena, Downey and Alexandra Conroy advised Procuritas Partners on a cap-reaching €305m fundraise. Other clients include BlackRock, which the team advises on funds-of-funds, Cairngorm Capital Partners (Mifsud advised it on an oversubscribed £108m fundraise) and Goldman Sachs. In the limited partner space, Selden, Downey and Gregg Beechey advised APG Asset Management on its limited partner interests.

Goodwin grew a significant investment fund practice in 2016 following the recruitment of the bulk of the team from the collapsed King & Wood Mallesons (KWM). The firm handles significant fundraises for a range of managers, covering asset classes from funds-of-funds and credit funds through to social impact research funds. Ed Hall advised Antin Infrastructure Partners on a €3.6bn fund investing in European infrastructure projects. Patrick Deasy and Shawn D’Aguiar acted for The Abraaj Group on its $1bn Health Growth Markets Fund. Ajay Pathak advised a number of ethical and social funds. Michael Halford, who led the KWM team, handles work regarding multi-currency funds. Other clients include Macquarie, which Hall and Halford advised on an oversubscribed €4bn infrastructure fund, and UBS.

Kirkland & Ellis International LLP advises a range of leading fund sponsors on multi-billion funds targeting investments in assets such as infrastructure, buyouts and natural resources. Richard Watkins, who heads the team, advised AMP Capital on forming a $2.4bn infrastructure fund, and TDR Capital on its €800m TDR Capital Annex Fund. Christopher Braunack advised Australian manager EMR Capital on an $860m fund seeking to invest in mines. Theodore Cardos, who acted for Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan on a number of secondary market transactions, and Amala Ejikeme were elected to the partnership, while Thomas Laverty joined as a partner from Macquarie’s in-house team. The firm also acts for Archer Capital, Vitruvian Partners and Rhône Capital. In August 2017, Anand Damodaran – who is described as is ‘extremely knowledgeable in all areas of funds and provides easy-to-understand responses – joined from Ropes & Gray LLP .

Linklaters LLP’s Jonathan de Lance-Holmes is advising SoftBank on its role in the SoftBank Vision Fund, a technology fund with a very significant commitments from a sovereign wealth fund and several technology companies, which raised $93bn at its first closing in May 2017. Practice head Matthew Keogh advised Macquarie on several nine-figure infrastructure debt funds, he also handles nine-figure Euro investments for leading international institutional investors and sovereign wealth funds. Senior associate Rahul Manvatkar is also a name of note in the team, which acts for KKR, Deutsche Bank Asset Management and Ardian.

Macfarlanes LLP is ‘excellent – it combines deep practical experience with an excellent overview of the wider market and trends, with sound technical skills’, making it ‘a natural choice for both new and existing managers’. ‘Unusually for a London funds team, it has a strong balance between real estate, private equity and debt fund work’, with practice head Stephen Robinson advising Alcentra on raising a €4.3bn direct lending fund, and CBPE on the formation of a £495m buyout fund in 2016. Alex Amos is ‘very intelligent, articulate and always calm, even under pressure in urgent transactions’: he advised Hayfin Capital Management on raising €3.5bn for a direct lending strategy and GHO Capital on forming a €660m fund investing in health care buyouts. Christopher Good’s work includes significant secondary transactions as well as fund formations. Other clients include Ancala, venture capital manager Scottish Equity Partners, and.Mayfair Equity Partners, which Robinson acted for on its first fund, which raised £400m during a timeframe which covered both sides of the June 2016 referendum,

Proskauer Rose LLP is ‘excellent’ and a group of ‘top quality fundraisers, the firm has done sensational jobs for clients on recent fundraising’. Nigel van Zyl is ‘a top-class lawyer: he is very adept at managing his way through complex and tricky situations’ – in 2016, he advised HgCapital on the formation of HgCapital Mercury 2, which raised £580m for technology buyouts. French-qualified Bruno Bertrand-Delfau, who advises cornerstone client Ardian, and Kate Simpson are other names of note in the practice – Simpson advised SL Capital Partners on a range of secondary market transactions. ‘Rising star’ senior associate Andrew Shore is ‘technically strong and smart on the commercials, combining all that with a fun demeanour and a real work ethic’ – in addition to being involved in the HgCapital Mercury 2 project, he worked with Van Zyl on G Square’s second fund, which raised €350m for a healthcare private equity strategy. Other clients include leading domestic institutional investors, Adams Street Partners and Ares Management, which Van Zyl acted for on raising Ares Capital Europe III, a €2.5bn direct lending fund, the largest in Europe to date.

Ashurst’s Piers Warburton advised Inflexion on the genesis of Inflexion Private Fund IV, which raised £250m, as well as a similar-sized supplemental fund to act alongside two of the manager’s other funds. Nick Goddard’s practice includes debt and infrastructure fund work – he advised Aviva Investors on the launch of a significant Luxembourg-domiciled fund investing in range of private debt, as well as Equitix on Equitix Fund IV, a £750m infrastructure fund. More international highlights included Warburton’s advice to ICG on the launch of ICG Asia Pacific Fund III, a $1bn debt fund. Other clients include well-known banks.

DLA Piper’s practice, bolstered by the recruitment of Andrew Wylie as practice head from Nabarro, handles a range of fund formation practices, with a significant strength in funds concerning emerging and frontier markets. Alex Tamlyn is also a name of note for fund formation, with James O’Donnell handling significant investor-side work as well as international elements. Clients include LaSalle Investment Management, FMO, the States of Jersey Public Employees Contributory Retirement Scheme and the trustees of Royal Insurance Group Pension Scheme.

Dechert LLP provides ‘a good level of service in terms of product quality and thoughtfulness’. Gus Black advised Pemberton Capital Partners on a €1.2bn debt fund financing borrowers across Europe. Christopher Gardner is ‘responsive and has a can-do attitude: he knows the market so can advise on what is actual practice’ – he and Stuart Martin advised Cheyne Capital on two close-ended credit fund projects, one of which ERISA-compliant. Senior associates Mikhaelle Schiappacasse and Ed Kingsbury are also names of note. Other clients include Apollo Global Management.

At Latham & Watkins, ‘clients appreciate that the firm can be relied on to get very difficult and technical investor negotiations completed with minimal input – nothing is ever too much trouble’. The firm provides ‘phenomenal client service’ to leading institutional investors and fund sponsors doing fund launches and transactions alike. Nick Benson, who ‘provides the information in a short and to-the-point manner: clients get all the answers they need and he goes out of his way to understand the problem’ and senior associate James McCrory, who clients ‘trust completely – his ability to remain calm under pressure is very impressive and he comes to clients with solutions not problems’, advised Assicurazioni Generali on a panoply of commitments, totalling approximately €3.5bn in 2016. Tom Alabasterleads the team and sets an excellent example – his significant in-house experience means he really gets things done’: he advised L Catterton on a $1bn fundraise, the manager’s first since the merger between Catterton Partners and L-Capital, a deal on which he advised Catterton Partners. Other clients include the Africa Development Bank, which Alabaster advised on its investments into Africa-focussed funds, and Buran Venture Capital, which Benson acted for on subsequent closings of Buran Venture Capital II.

O'Melveny is ‘highly commercial and knowledgeable, which brings good solutions easy to explain and negotiate with the clients’. John Daghlian advised Livingbridge on a £660m fund targeting British businesses, and, with Daniel Quinn, acted for Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a new manager, on its first fund. Quinn handles a range of investor-side work for GIC Special Investments. Aleksander Bakic is a new election the partnership. Other clients include CDC Group.

Paul Hastings LLP handles a range of high-value and mid-cap fund formations concerning buyout and credit strategies, with somewhat of a strength in the former. Duncan Woollard advised cornerstone client Investindustrial on a fund focusing on Southern Europe, which hit its hard cap of €2bn within three months of fundraising. David Ryland acted for Octopus Healthcare on its conversion of MedicX I Healthfund into an evergreen fund. Christian Parker and Arun Birla are also names of note, with Diala Minott also leading significant credit fund work. Other clients include NorthEdge Capital, which Woollard advised on a mid-market private equity fund, and MVM Life Sciences, which he advised on a life sciences fund.

Ropes & Gray LLPquietly outshines many of the other firms in the market’ and is ‘a pleasure to work with and facilitates easier negotiations on contentious issues’. Practice head Matthew Judd advised Nordic Capital on a new fund, and BlackRock on a fund which will be partially managed by an AIFMD-authorised manager. Other clients include MV Credit, which Damodaran acted for on three fund launches, and Mandala Capital, a new client win, which aims to invest in agricultural businesses in India – an endeavour complicated by various intricacies of Indian tax law. In August 2017, Anand Damodaran moved to Kirkland & Ellis International LLP.

Simmons & Simmons’s private funds team covers debt, infrastructure and buyout fundraises alike, as well as work for significant governmental and private-sector institutional investors. Cindy Valentine, a new hire from King & Wood Mallesons, advised the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on its Equity Participation Fund, which was designed to allow institutional investors to invest but keeps the EBRD in control of the fund. In the debt fund space, Matthew Pitman acted for Whitehelm Capital on creating its first European fund, Whitehelm Capital European Infrastructure Debt Partners I. In infrastructure, Dale Gabbert advised Resonance Asset Management on creating a closed-ended fund investing in water treatment facilities. David Williams acted for the European Investment Fund on a range of fund commitments and co-investments, as well as secondary market transactions.

Travers Smith LLP has ‘very good business acumen and industry knowledge’, which it deploys on a range of fund mandates, including a number of significant fund formations. Sam Kay has ‘a very good understanding of clients’ business needs and is able to support them in all areas where they need legal support’ – he and ‘rising star’ associate Edward Ford advised Abris Capital Partners on the formation and several closings of Abris CEE Mid-Market Fund III, which raised a total of €500m. Kay also acted for Medicxi Ventures Management, a spin-out from Index Ventures, on its entry to the market and subsequently its first fund, which raised €250m to invest in later-stage life sciences growth investment. Jeremy Elmore advised Piper PE on creating a buyout fund aiming to invest in UK consumer businesses – he also acted for GLIL on extending an existing platform to £1.3bn to allow investment from further local authority pension funds.

At Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, ‘the response times are excellent, and it has a good knowledge of private equity’, with a particular strength in India-related work. Thiha Tun is ‘passionate and always up to date with the goings-on of the industry and the various innovative structures fund houses use globally, which makes it useful to have a chat with him before embarking on a fund formation’: he advised ICICI Ventures on the formation of Dynamic India Fund S4, which has initial commitments of $250m. Continuing the Indian theme, John Holton acted for CX Capital Partners on its second fund, which is seeking to raise $250m. Other clients include JPMorgan Private Equity, which Tun advised on the spinout of its private equity team to Fortress Investment Group.

As part of a multi-disciplinary funds practice, Allen & Overy LLP handles various mandates concerning fund formations, co-investment projects and investor-side work. Nick Williams advised Cairn Capital on an open-ended loan fund. John Goodhall acted for International Finance Corporation on a co-investment project with Allianz, under which Allianz will invest $500m in project finance loans targeted at infrastructure in emerging economies. Pavel Shevtsov handles work for sovereign wealth funds, and Matt Huggett heads the practice.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP advises on fund formations concerning aviation and other niche asset classes, as well as infrastructure and buyouts, some of which in challenging emerging markets. Stephen Newby and Tim West are key names to note in the team.

Hogan Lovells International LLPhas a broad practice, credibly spanning asset classes’; the firm deals with infrastructure, buyout and technology-related matters, acting for a significant number of investors, fund sponsors and secondary market participants. Practice head Nicholas Holman is ‘consistently excellent – he has significant structuring and advisory experience, along with great technical knowledge, charm and good client management skills’ – he advised Prudential Portfolio Management Group on a €150m commitment to a fund managed by NextEnergy Capital. Holman and Keith Woodhouse, whose ‘key strengths revolve around loyalty, attention to detail, excellence in delivery and genuine interest in ESG funds’, acted for Pantheon Ventures on the purchase of $117m of fund interests from Akina. Other clients include venture capital managers and sovereign wealth funds.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Michael Newell handles a range of investment fund formation work, covering asset classes ranging from energy, direct lending and buyouts through to farmland and insurance. Clients include CN Investments, Ludgate Capital, the European Investment Bank, FMO and Faro Energy, a new client win.

Osborne Clarke LLP handles a range of work regarding venture capital and technology fund formations, as well as some investor-side and secondary market matters. Helen Parsonage advised Notion Capital Partners, a manager with a track record in venture capital, on its £60m entrance to the world of growth capital funds; she also acted for Foresight Group on creating an Enterprise Investment Scheme in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering, a sister company of the Formula One team. As far as secondary market work is concerned, Tim Simmonds advised Hollyport Capital on a range of purchases of fund interests. Other clients include BAE Systems’ pension schemes, which Parsonage acted for on the acquisition of several limited partner interests, and PROfounders Capital Partners, which Parsonage advised on the launch of its second venture capital fund.

While best known for its hedge fund practice, Schulte Roth & Zabel International LLP is ‘superior in understanding of issues and ability to execute things effectively’ in the private equity space according to its clients, advising a number of well-known managers on fund formations in a range of asset classes, some of which at the interface between hedge and private equity funds. Exemplifying this crossover ability, Josh Dambacher advised Vitruvian Partners on designing a structure for liquid activist investments in a private equity fund. More traditional fund formation work included Dambacher advising MW Eaglewood on a credit fund with Delaware, Cayman and Irish feeder funds, and Jim McNally acting for Kingsway Capital on creating two funds making technology-sector investments in frontier markets.

Sidley Austin LLP’s London practice, spearheaded by James Oussedik and Stephen Ross, handles a range of fund formations, some of which regard emerging markets, and at the crossroads of hedge and private equity funds, often operating in tandem with its US offices. Oussedik advised Alcentra on creating Clareant Structured Credit Opportunities, a fund which seeks to raise $500m, and Ross acted for Wolfson, a Mongolian manager, on creating a closed-ended fund making energy and infrastructure investments in the Central Asian country. Other mandates for the team included significant limited partner commitments for family offices and sovereign wealth funds.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP’s team, led by Stephen Sims, advises on a number of heavyweight and high profile fund formations. In one particular highlight, he acted for key client LetterOne on the formation of LetterOne Technology, a $16bn investment program targeting the technology sector; he also advised on the formation of LetterOne Retail, a $3bn retail investment business. Other key highlights included acting for Broadwell Capital, a ‘billion dollar baby’ (a new manager raising $1bn or more for its first fund). Other clients include placing agent Quest Fund Management, family offices and other limited partners.

Baker McKenzie’s James Burdett’s work includes a number of fund formation mandates, often related to government-backed funds, as well as significant limited partner work. He advised Earth Capital Partners on the creation of the Nobel Sustainability Fund – a joint venture with a Chinese counterparty and backed by Prince Albert II of Monaco to create a fund investing in sustainable technology. He also acted for the Japan Bank for International Co-operation on launching the Russo-Japanese Investment Fund, a $1bn platform joint venture with the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Clients include Banque Cantonale de Genève and Guardian Media Group.

Jones Dayis establishing a UK presence in the private funds market’, ‘the advice is always tailored and the team goes to great lengths to understand clients’ business’. The practice handles work concerning debt funds, venture capital, nine-figure buyout funds and funds-of-funds. John MacGarty advised True Capital on the formation of True Capital II, which raised £108m. Other clients include Ali Zaid Al-Quraishi and Brothers Company, Sequoia Investment Management and Motion Equity Partners.

A clear leader when it comes to advising emerging managers’, MJ Hudson is ‘incredibly responsive and always has the time to dig into problems and provide smart, practical advice’. Matthew Hudson advised Calunius Capital on forming Calunius Litigation Risk Fund 3, a litigation finance fund which raised £100m. Shervin Shamelishows a great understanding of what a private funds client needs in a law firm and has a key role in getting difficult fundraisings across the line’ – he, Hudson and Guernsey-based Matthew Wrigley acted for Volpi Capital on creating a fund which raised €40m at its first closing. Eamon Devlincombines top-class legal skills with exceptional commercial understanding – he is someone who gets things done, and leverages his broad network for the benefit of his clients’.

Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP’s team, newly-assembled in 2016, handles a range of work for limited partners and managers, often concerning venture funds. Rob Mailer, a new joiner from King & Wood Mallesons, is ‘very responsive and with good industry knowledge: he adopts a commercial approach rather than an overly legalistic one’ – he acted for Star Capital Partnership on raising STAR Strategic Assets III, a buyout fund with a €600m target. Oliver Rochman, who joined in September 2016 from Proskauer Rose LLP, advises a number of new managers on both initial fundraises and spin-outs. In addition, Rochman supports the firm’s Tokyo team, which advised SoftBank on the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s funds offering, headed by Ian Warner, handles a range of work, with a particular number of economic, social and governance (ESG) fund work complementing debt and real estate fund formation matters. Warner and Glasgow-based senior associate Elaine MacGregor advised Sango Capital on two further closings of an Africa-focused fund-of-funds, and Mayfair Capital on a residential debt fund. In the venture capital space, Warner acted for City University on establishing a fund to invest in start-ups generated by the CASS Entrepreneurship Centre. Daniel Greenaway is now at Mishcon de Reya LLP, David Young in Edinburgh is a new hire from Maclay Murray & Spens LLP.

Reed Smith LLP’s Tamasin Little, one of four regulatory partners who joined the firm from King & Wood Mallesons (the others are Delphine Currie, Adrian Brown and Tim Dolan), advised fund-of-funds manager HarbourVest Partners on the launch of a number of AIMFD-complaint funds. Winston Penall is also a name of note. Other mandates included commodities funds and litigation funding.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher (UK) LLP’s work includes a range of infrastructure and energy funds. The firm has a particular strength in Africa-focused funds, with Wifa advising Sahel Capital on a $76m agribusiness fund targeting the Nigerian agricultural sector, as well as Adenia Partners on its fourth fund and CardinalStone Capital Advisors on its debut fund, which seeks $100m to invest in Nigerian businesses. In the energy space, he also acted for Impax Asset Management on a fund seeking to invest €600m in renewable energy infrastructure, and Blue Water Energy on its second fund, targeted at $1.3bn. Henrietta de Salis, who handles regulatory work, is a new hire from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

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