Kirkland & Ellis leads in secondaries deal volume

Kirkland & Ellis advised on 50 secondaries deals in 2014, worth $7.5bn.

Kirkland & Ellis’s corporate law practice leads the secondaries market activity in 2014. The firm advised on 50 deals, valued at an estimated $7 billion (including purchase price plus unfunded commitments), according to partner Michael Belsley.

Secondaries Investor asked 21 private equity lawyers how many secondaries transactions each had advised on in 2014. Five law firms responded and Kirkland & Ellis’ practice, led by Belsley in Chicago, significantly surpassed other firms and its own records.

“Kirkland & Ellis’ figure increased by 15 percent since last year,” said Belsley.

Proskauer followed, having advised on more than 100 secondary transactions of all sizes, valued at a total of more than $5 billion. The firm’s practice is led by Boston-based partner Sean Hill and London-based partner Kate Simpson.

The secondaries group at global law firm King & Wood Mallesons advised on seven secondaries deals and 100 “smaller basket transactions” (deals under $500 million or a portfolio of less than 10 interests) that together are worth more than $4.5 billion, the firm said.

New York-headquartered law firm Debevoise & Plimpton completed 23 deals with a combined total value of $2.83 billion.

“Secondary deals are perhaps the most innovative in the market and that brings its own challenges,” said Debevoise & Plimpton partner Katherine Ashton. “As deals become increasingly complex and bespoke, the standard documents and precedents can’t be relied on. That of course makes it a highly interesting area of the market to work in, but does mean you need some sharp minds and hard work on these sorts of deals.”

Boutique law firm MJ Hudson, which was founded in 2010, advised on 13 secondaries deals. The transactions consisted of nine fund stake sales and four direct secondaries deals worth a total of $425 million, according to partners Matthew Hudson and Ted Craig.

Law firm Volume of secondaries deals No. of secondaries deals    
Kirkland & Ellis $7 billion 50
Proskauer $5 billion 100
King & Wood Mallesons $4.5 billion 7 (plus 100 “smaller” deals)
Debevoise & Plimpton $2.83 billion 23
MJ Hudson $425 million 13

All transaction values include the purchase price plus assumed unfunded commitments.