Ashurst hires Bakers finance trio in Germany

Ashurst has hired a three-lawyer team from Baker McKenzie’s banking and finance group in Germany

The team is being led by German banking and finance head Martin Kaiser, who has worked at Baker McKenzie for 13 years 

He will be taking two associates with him – Sahra Demirbilek and Stephan Lehnen. Demirbilek joined Bakers in 2014, while Lehnen has been with the firm throughout his career.

Kaiser advises banks and corporations on various aspects of banking and finance law, including Société Générale, HSBC, Citi Group, Volkswagen Bank and Mizuho.

He specialises in securitisation work, particularly the securitisation of automobile loans and trade receivables.

Ashurst’s German practice has been hit by a number of departures in the last two years, including four partner exits to Goodwin Procter in November 2015. The group worked on real estate, finance and private equity deals in Frankfurt.

Earlier this year, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher recruited Munich finance partner Sebastian Schoon, who had been a partner at Ashurst since 2011.

Ashurst has two offices in Germany – Frankfurt and Munich. The Frankfurt office consists of 14 partners, while Ashurst’s comparatively newer Munich base houses five.


DLA Piper hires key duo

DLA Piper has hired former Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Phil Crump and Kirkland & Ellis partner Doug Murning.

Crump left Gibson Dunn at the end of last year without a new role, having joined Gibson Dunn from Kirkland & Ellis in August 2015.

Crump’s move to Gibson Dunn had reunited him with former Kirkland colleague Stephen Gillespie, who co-chairs Gibson’s global finance group.

Before joining Kirkland in 2007, Crump was an associate at Shearman & Sterling and trained in New Zealand in the late ‘90s at Russell McVeagh.

Alongside Crump’s hire, DLA Piper has also recruited Kirkland partner Doug Murning, who is based in Hong Kong. He will continue to work in Asia, though will initially split his time between there and London.

In his new role, will become head of DLA’s London leveraged finance team, advising on lender-side finance deals, special situations and deals for alternative credit providers.

Earlier this year, DLA Piper hired Ropes & Gray London senior partner Maurice Allen as a consultant, who joined with a brief to develop the firm’s finance sector strategy.

He reports to Charles Severs, managing director of practice groups and Jan Geert Meents, managing director of sectors and clients.

Chicago Law

King & Spalding expands in US with Chicago launch

King & Spalding is launching its 20th international office in Chicago, following the hire of litigator Zachary Fardon.

After this office opening, the Atlanta-founded firm will have a total of 10 offices in the US.

Fardon most recently served as the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, resigning from his post in March.

The move marks a return to King & Spalding for Fardon, who started his legal career at the firm between 1992 and 1996. After a series of government roles, Fardon joined Latham & Watkins in 2007 where he chaired the litigation department in Chicago for three years.

Fardon will become King & Spalding’s Chicago managing partner and head of litigation in the new office.

King & Spalding expects to add additional lawyers in the coming months and open a permanent location in the city.

The office will focus on government investigations, commercial litigation and work across the financial services and life sciences sectors.

According to The Lawyer’s Global 200 report 2017, King & Spalding’s top three jurisdictions were Atlanta, Washington DC and New York.

Its revenue broke $1bn for the second year running in the last financial year, with its lawyer numbers breaking through 1,000 for the first time.

King & Spalding turnover rose 4 per cent over 2016 amid a slowdown in City revenue of 8 per cent to $42.6m.


handshake deal

A&O and Skadden lead on £9.3bn Worldpay merger

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Allen & Overy (A&O) have led on the ongoing negotiations in Vantiv’s £9.3bn merger with alternative payment platform Worldpay.

Ohio-based payment company Vantiv’s bid was formally accepted by Worldpay’s board and looks set to go through subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, creating a group with a combined value of more than £22bn.

Skadden advised the US tech company on the deal with a team, led by M&A partner Scott Hopkins in London with M&A partners Peter Atkins and David Ingles in New York.

A&O M&A partner Seth Jones led the firm’s team advising Worldpay in the deal.

Ashurst acted for Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse on the deal with corporate partners Karen Davies, Tim Rennie and finance partner Mark Vickers.

It is understood that Sidley Austin and Latham & Watkins supported with financial and regulatory advice in the United States.

If completed, the deal will see Vantiv purchase shares in Worldpay for 379p each but retain the name of the English company.

For Ashurst, is the second major online payment deal, pending shareholder approval, that the firm has advised on in the last week totaling more than £12bn following Paysafe’s proposed £3bn acquisition by Blackstone and CVC.

Davies and Rennie were also involved in that deal and Rennie said this shows an “awakening in the sector”.

Rennie told The Lawyer: “It’s difficult to know the exact reasons behind these deals with Brexit and everything else going on in the world. However, I do think that it’s the future of the tech business and follows the global spread.”

The merged company will house offices in both the US and UK with its global headquarters sitting in Ohio and its international headquarters located in London.

Worldpay first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2015 and more than doubled its value, growing to upwards of £8bn.



Kennedys expands & opens new office in Melbourne

Kennedys has expanded its presence in Australia with a new office in Melbourne, hiring Lander & Rogers partner Michael Kavanagh as the new office head.

The office is Kennedys’ second in Australia, complimenting its presence in Sydney. Kavanagh brings a three-lawyer team with him from Lander & Rogers. The firm will also transfer special counsel Nicholas Blackmore from its Hong Kong office.

Kennedys’ Melbourne practice is the firm’s seventh new office this year after a merger with US firm Carroll, McNulty & Kull added 100 lawyers and five offices to the firms network. Melbourne will bring the firm’s total office count up to 34.

Andrews said: “A number of our significant local and global clients are in Melbourne and we are very excited about working more closely with them.

“The addition of a local team will give clients access to a broader range of skills and additional resources particularly in high growth areas like casualty, liability, cyber and insurtech.”

Kavanagh is the firm’s eighth lateral hire this year and spent 16 years with his previous firm heading up Lander & Rogers’ casualty team. He will strengthen the firm’s insurance sector and become its 124th insurance partner globally. Together, litigation and insurance combined to account for 88 per cent of Kennedys’ turnover in the last financial year.

The Melbourne office continues the firm’s rapid expansion in 2017 after the US merger, a 24-strong hire from Hill Dickinson in Sheffield, a merger with Manchester-based litigation boutique berg, an office opening in Mexico and a formal association in Italy rounding off the first half of the year.

Kennedys managing partner Nick Thomas, who was reelected for a fifth time after running uncontested earlier this year, said: “This latest office opening reinforces our commitment to the Australian market by expanding our capacity to service national clients, and by recruiting talented and experienced insurance specialists who have the industry expertise that our clients demand.

“The expansion of the Australian practice aligns with the firm’s global strategy to be the go-to firm for the insurance sector and to provide the best on the ground capability where our clients need it.”

reed smith

Reed Smith global managing partner Sandy Thomas re-elected

Reed Smith global managing partner Sandy Thomas has been reappointed to the role until 2021 after an uncontested election.

Thomas took over the role from Greg Jordan who stood down midway through a three-year term in October 2013.

He is the firm’s 11th eleventh managing partner in the firm’s 140-year history and has seen strong expansion since the beginning of his tenure.

The firm opened offices in Frankfurt in 2015 as well as ramping up operations in the firm’s Singapore office a year later. An office in Miami earlier this year rounded off the Reed Smith expansion in Thomas’s first spell in the job.

Reed Smith were, notably, one of the main beneficiaries of King & Wood Mallesons European downfall as the firm took more than 50 lawyers into its London, Frankfurt, Munich and Paris offices. Indeed, the firm’s London office won its first major refinancing work as a direct result of ex-KWM partner Delphine Currie in July.

Thomas said: “It is an honour and a privilege to serve as the firm’s global managing partner, and I appreciate the continued confidence of my partners. I am proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to further strategic growth focused on our five leading industry groups: financial industry, life sciences/healthcare, media and entertainment, energy and natural resources and shipping.”

The firm saw turnover decline for the second successive year in February falling 4 per cent from $1.23bn to $1.1bn. Profit per equity partner stayed largely static at $1.1bn but Thomas said the firm had outperformed expectations after a 5 per cent reduction in the headcount at the firm in 2016.

Thomas said: “Fewer lawyers is naturally going to have an effect on revenue. We’re trying to manage our headcount, which is a global endeavour. The market is characterised by relatively static demand and firms need to focus on this.”

The firm currently has more than 1,700 lawyers worldwide spread over 27 offices and was one of the first firms to pilot the Mansfield Rule requiring a minimum of 30 per cent of the leadership, equity partner promotions and lateral hires to be women and lawyers of colour.


Simmons head of China quits to set up Advisory firm

Simmons & Simmons’ head of China Davis Wang has left the firm to set up his own advisory firm focusing on corporate governance and proxy management.

Wang left Simmons after seven years as the Beijing managing partner and head of China practice. He joined the firm in 2010 from Chinese firm King & Wood (now King & Wood Mallesons) to open and lead the UK firm’s Beijing office. He was promoted to China country head in 2012.

Dual qualified in PRC and the US and his practice had a focus on foreign investment, M&A, private equity and fund formation in the TMT sector.

In his recent move, Wang will retire from law and lead ZD Corporate Governance & Proxy Management Advisory, where he is a co-founder.

Simmons & Simmons has made slight changes to its China practice leadership team following Wang’s exit. It has named Beijing corporate partner Eric Lin as the Beijing office head, while Hong Kong based Asia head Paul Li has taken on the management responsibilities of the Shanghai office.

Lin joined the firm in 2011 as a partner from Allen & Overy, where he was a senior associate.

The firm’s Beijing office now has four partners, while the Shanghai office is much smaller and with no resident partner.

In March 2017, a team of five lawyers left Simmons’ Shanghai office to join Morgan Lewis. The team was led by employment and investigations partner Lesli Ligorner, who joined the firm from Paul Hastings in 2012.

Simmons senior partner Colin Passmore told The Lawyer the firm has no plan to consolidate or close an office in China and on the contrary it has plans to grow.

“We have several lateral hires in the pipeline in China that will come through in the autumn. We will continue to invest there,” said Passmore.

“China is a really important market for us and we need to be in both Beijing and Shanghai. Although there’s increasing competition in the market and it has its challenges, there are a number of areas where we see good opportunities, such as funds, asset management and areas in relation to fintech and TMT,” he added.

With more international firms taking the plunge to enter into association with local Chinese firms or set up a joint operation office in Shanghai Free Trade Zone, Passmore said his firm too is following closely on this development and considering the pros and cons of all the options. But he said Simmons currently has no plan to act on it and will decide in due course.


Buoyant Australian M&A market raises spectre of more hostile bids

American and Japanese bidders are stalking Australian companies as 2017 M&A activity heats up with health, IT and agribusiness predicted to be the future hot areas.


Global Arbitration body PCA to set up in Singapore

The Permanent Court of Arbitration is to open its first staffed office in Asia and only its second outside The Hague.

The Singapore office administer PCA hearings held in the city state and the wider Asia region, which has seen a rise in cases to at least 7 in 2017, more than double that of 2015.

“The setting up of the PCA office will further augment Singapore’s position as an international hub for dispute resolution, particularly in the new area of investment dispute resolution. The growing number of PCA cases heard in Singapore is testament to the expertise Singapore offers,” said Ms Indranee Rajah SC, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Finance.

Singapore’s Ministry of Law and the PCA signed a Host Country Agreement this week, which is a step-up from the current 10-year Facility Agreement where cases were administered from The Hague.

The new office will be based at the Maxwell Chambers within the next 6 months and will be housed in the new Maxwell Chambers Suites, due for completion in 2019.

“The new office will take the Singapore-PCA partnership to a new level and will create more opportunities for Singapore lawyers and law firms,” added Ms. Rajah.



Mexican Employment Law

Social Security, Employee Benefits and the Risk of not Insuring Employees in Mexico.

The day to day operations of a labor and employment firm are filled with some very consistent and repetitive inquiries such as social security, worker’s compensation, general insurance, minimum mandated benefits and over all employee costs in Mexico. For employers and international investors, it is essential to point out that full compliance in all abovementioned areas, along with transparency in Mexico is obtainable and surprisingly viable if analyzed and implemented correctly.

In the US for example, when occupational injury or illness arises, employees may receive worker’s compensation benefits to replace lost wages and to help pay for medical expenses. This is just one of those “employee costs” that all employers entertain and that must be factored in to be able to analyze the viability and overall cost of business. Understanding the depth and cost of employer responsibility in terms of mandated benefits and social security is at large, one of the most important elements of hiring employees in Mexico.

Per Mexican law, everything that the employee is entitled too and everything that is binding for employers is centered, handled and paid unto one government institution which is the National Social Security Institute or “IMSS” (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social).

It is mandated that all employers must register under the Mexican Social Security Institute which provides governmental full medical care, out-patient, maternity, disability and injury care to all workers registered therewith alongside retirement, pension plans and even day care centers for working mothers. Social Security services are paid for through fees or quotas funded both by employees and employers via withholding which is one of the primary obligations of all employers when disbursing salaries. Other than the obligation to register all workers under IMSS, these social security fees are essential to compliance and workplace stability because they replace workers comp, 401 K and retirement (all other insurance and benefits) whilst allowing employees to have all health, maternity, injury and disability benefits while IMSS pays for wages during medical care or approved absences.

It is important to consider this trade off (a single payment), seeing that there is only one legal social security administrative system, which maintains free of charge medical clinics, hospitals, childcare and eligible services to employees and their families. IMSS also pays for a percentage of an employee’s salary in the event of a job-related accident illness or temporary/permanent disability and grants assistance to beneficiaries in case of a work-related accidents or death.

Having a working knowledge of how much “overhead” this social security cost will bare in relation with the pay roll and how this can help a company is paramount for all investors and employers in Mexico. IMSS being a competent authority to audit and impose fines on employers for non-compliance is also very important to note, as a single levy for not observing employer social security obligations could mean millions in losses alongside compliance issues.

Over all, in time all corporations will appreciate and conclude that compliance with IMSS is less costly and with potential larger benefits for the employer than expected. Actually, expenses related to social security compliance in Mexico and even severance/termination fees will prove to be less costly than in the United States

For further information please reach

Juan Jose Diaz Miron at