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DE Shaw hires general counsel

As the hedge fund giant expands into private equity, John Liftin has been brought on board.

New York-based hedge fund giant DE Shaw has hired John Liftin to be the firm's new general counsel and managing director.

Liftin was previously vice chairman and general counsel at Bank of New York. Prior to that, he was senior vice president and general counsel at Prudential Financial and, before that, at Kidder Peabody Group. He began his career at the New York office of law firm Rogers & Wells and has worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he was special counsel to the chairman and associate director of the division of market regulation.

?John has successfully managed the legal affairs of some of the largest financial services firms,? said Stuart Steckler, a managing director of DE Shaw and a member of the firm's executive committee. ?We'll benefit greatly from John's management experience and extensive work in the financial sector on both legal and regulatory matters.?

Liftin, who replaces Steven Siedemann who retired at the end of 2006, will focus on both legal and regulatory matters, the firm said.

The appointment comes at a time when DE Shaw, founded by David Shaw, is moving aggressively into private equity as well as building out its back-office staff. In June, the New York firm hired Darcy Bradbury away from The Blackstone Group to become DE Shaw's first external affairs director. Bradbury will interface with the media and the government.

The firm also recently hired David Lyon away from New York private equity firm The Cypress Group. Lyon will join the firm's special situations and distressed group.

In China, DE Shaw has hired former JPMorgan professional Lian Meng to lead a new Greater China private equity push.

Louis Salkind oversees the firm's private equity, venture and special situations programs around the world. DE Shaw has captured the attention of the market with a number of recent private equity deals. Most recently, the firm backed a $575 million buyout of insurance holding company James River Group. It has also been involved in the buyout of toy retailers eToys, KB Toys and FAO Schwarz.

An April report in the Financial Times noted that DE Shaw would create a dedicated private equity fund. Overall, DE Shaw manages approximately $35 billion in capital. It was founded in 1988.