Beyond borders

European M&A heavyweight Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is bulking up in New York.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is one of the premier private equity transaction legal advisors in the world, but its work in the US so far has been largely limited to advising on follow-on acquisitions and not on the primary deals it is known for elsewhere.

For example, last year in the US, Freshfields advised Apax Partners' portfolio company Travelex on its acquisition of foreign exchange company Ruesch for $440 million (€311 million).

Elsewhere, Freshfields has advised Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Permira on its sale of broadcaster SBS to German TV station ProSieben-Sat.1 Media for €3.3 billion, Goldman Sachs' on its acquisition of Japan's Sanyo Credit for Y24 billion ($205 million; €145 million) and Warburg Pincus' on its acquisition of China Hui Yuan Juice for $222 million.

Freshfields, like its European magic circle rivals Linklaters and Clifford Chance, has been seeking to expand its New York practice. The firm has been in New York for 20 years, but it was only in mid-2006 that it brought on two private equity in corporate M&A partners in Matthew Herman and Timothy Wilkins. ?That's the beginning of our building of a practice that will be complementary to our main European and Asian corporate practice in doing private equity transaction work,? says Chris Bown, co-head of the international private equity practice at Freshfields in London.

Now a third partner has been added to the New York corporate practice ? Julian Pritchard, a transfer from Tokyo ? and there will be more hires to come as the firm seeks to deepen its relationships with its clients.

Freshfields says it has relationships with some 30 of the world's 40 largest private equity funds in terms of size, but many of those relationships are down to a piece of the work done by one of its many offices. What Freshfields wants is a bigger piece of the action, if not all of it. ?Our objective for the next five years is to seek to develop stronger and deeper relationships with the sponsors with whom we work, with a view to ending up with a dozen to 15 strong multi-office relationships with a variety of private equity sponsors,? says Bown.

With half of its clients based in the US and the other half in Europe, New York will be an important piece of the big picture. Bown expects to see a bigger flow of domestic private equity work in the next six to twelve months, and eventually hopes to build a team of 4 to 5 partners and 15 to 20 associates.

Over in Asia, where the firm has been hit with a continuous round of departures at the top, some stability has prevailed. In June this year, IPO specialist Teresa Ko was appointed as managing partner for China, where she heads a practice of nearly 200 lawyers in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

Orrick Herrington nabs Shecter
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has hired away Howard Shecter from Morgan Lewis & Bockius, where he was senior leader of the business and finance practice group and was a former chairman and managing partner of the firm. Shecter, who has more than 35 years of experience in US and global M&A transactions, is expected to lead Orrick's efforts to expand its global M&A practice, particularly in New York. Among the recent deals he has advised on are counsel to the management of SunGard in its $11 billion acquisition by a consortium led by Silver Lake Partners, counsel to the management of Freescale Semiconductor in its $17 billion acquisition by a consortium led by The Blackstone Group and counsel to Neiman Marcus in its $5.5 billion sale to TPG and Warburg Pincus. Ralph Baxter, Orrick's chairman and CEO, said in a statement: ?Expanding our global M&A practice is one of Orrick's highest priorities, and we aim to build upon our significant resources and experience in M&A in Asia, Europe and the West Coast of the United States.? Earlier this year, Orrick failed to merge with noted M&A law firm Dewey Ballantine.

Gibson Dunn goes Middle East
US West Coast law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has announced plans to open an office in Dubai by the end of 2007. The new office, located in the Dubai International Financial Centre, will advise on regional and outbound investment and financing work, including fund formation; M&A; private equity; real estate; corporate finance, including Shari'ah compliant finance; capital markets transactions; project finance; international arbitration and dispute resolution; and regulatory and compliance matters. Washington, DC tax partner Peter Baumbusch will be relocating to Dubai to oversee the launch. He will work closely with London partners Paul Hart (corporate) and Tony Bonanno (tax). Gibson Dunn will look to recruit UK and US lawyers to staff the office. The opening of the office is subject to receiving regulatory approval.

DLA Piper draws six new PE partners
DLA Piper has announced the hiring of six new partners in its New York and Chicago offices. Five partners from Winston & Strawn are joining the firm's corporate and securities practice as partners: Jason Booth, Richard Ginsberg and Brendan Head join the firm's Chicago office, Christopher Giordano joins in New York and Steven Napolitano will split his time between Chicago and New York. Napolitano, who was previously co-chair of Winston & Strawn's private equity practice, will also serve as co-chair of DLA Piper's US private equity practice. Ginsberg will serve as co-chair of the US fund formation group for the firm. Separately, Drew Chapman has joined DLA Piper's corporate and finance practice as chair of the fund services group. Chapman was previously partner, founder and chair of the fund services group at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. This past July, DLA Piper also added venture capital, private equity and M&A partners Khoa Do and Michael Reagan in the firm's Palo Alto office. Both join from Greenberg Taurig.

Mayer Brown hires Bird in London
Mayer Brown has added Alistair Bird as partner in its corporate practice in London. Bird joins from Simmons & Simmons, where he was made partner in 1986. From 1994 to 1998, he was managing partner of Simmons & Simmons' New York office where he advised North American companies on the English and European aspects of investing and of doing deals in Europe. Bird specializes in M&A, joint ventures and in private equity and venture capital transactions, with particular expertise in the communications sector. Among his private equity clients are Langholm Capital, including its recent acquisition of Dorset Cereals, and Allen, McGuire & Partners, where he has advised on substantially all its transactions. Sean Connolly, London senior partner, said in a statement: ?We are delighted that Alistair is to join us. The recent addition of both William Charnley and Alistair highlight the ambitions of the firm to succeed in this competitive market. We anticipate announcing further appointments shortly.?

Paul Hastings adds two in Asia
Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker has hired Joseph Kim in Tokyo from Latham & Watkins and Patricia Tan Openshaw in Hong Kong from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Kim's practice focuses on leveraged finance, as well as project development and project finance throughout Asia. He has represented commercial banks, sponsors and export credit agencies, in addition to a number of private equity investors and private and publicly held companies. Openshaw advises an array of corporate and project transactions involving energy and infrastructure assets and in financings involving commercial banks, export credit agencies, multilateral agencies and private equity funds. Her experience covers the Asia region and Australia where she has represented multinational companies in restructurings, refinancings, private equity investments, divestitures, privatizations and cross-border acquisitions. ?The continued growth of our Asia practice is a top priority for the firm,? said Robert Miller, global corporate department chair, in a statement

Linklaters hires two and moves one
In three separate announcements, Linklaters has transferred its global finance head to New York, replaced its investment management head in Asia and hired a partner in Milan. John Tucker, global head of finance and projects in London, moves to New York, where he also adds the title of managing partner ? Americas. Tucker advises banks, bank syndicates, sponsors and companies on syndicated lending, secured and structured financings. In Hong Kong, Linklaters has replaced Graham Turl with Michael Guilday, who becomes counsel and head of the firm's investment management practice in Asia. The move marks a return for Guilday, who worked at Linklaters from 2002 to 2004 before joining Allens Arthur Robinson in Sydney, Australia, where he advised on a full range of investment funds products, including private equity funds, hedge funds, real estate funds, infrastructure funds and listed permanent capital vehicles. In Milan, Linklaters has hired Luca Picone as corporate partner. Picone joins from Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, where as partner he has advised on public and private M&A and in private equity transactions.