SJ Berwin infra, real estate attorney jumps ship

Laura O’Neill will continue to focus on corporate real estate, infrastructure and the emerging markets of Africa and India at competitor Greenberg Traurig.

Laura O’Neill, formerly a partner in the London office of SJ Berwin, has joined the corporate and securities practice of competitor firm Greenberg Traurig Maher. 
At Greenberg Traurig, her practice will focus on corporate real estate, infrastructure and the emerging markets of Africa and India, the same areas she specialised in at SJ Berwin.
At SJ Berwin, O’Neill advised on a number of high profile infrastructure deals, including sub-Saharan Africa-focused private equity fund Helios Investment Partners’ $170 million acquisition of a 25 percent equity stake in Kenya’s Equity Bank Limited.
On the real estate side, she advised on the Westfield Investment Group’s Greyhound Fund, and on Westfield’s joint venture with Queensland Investment Corporation to acquire Merry Hill Shopping Centre. She also worked on the CPC Group and Kaupthing Bank’s acquisition of Middlesex Hospital, and advised the Bank of Scotland on its participation in managed property fund Glebe London Fund.
O’Neill joined SJ Berwin as a partner in 2005. Before, she was at Clifford Chance since 1996, where she became a partner in 2002.  
According to industry publication The Lawyer, average profit per equity partner at SJ Berwin “all but halved” during the past financial year, dropping 48 percent, from £801,000 ($1.3 million; €892,450) in 2007-08 to £410,000 in 2008-2009.
Greenberg Traurig Maher is new to the UK market. The firm was launched in early 2009 under the leadership of Paul Maher, formerly the global vice chairman of Mayer Brown. The firm is part of law firm Greenberg Traurig, which has 1750 attorneys in 31 offices around the world.