Law firm Stephenson Harwood has hired a three partner team from King & Wood Mallesons with secondaries expertise as the ailing law firm prepares to go into administration.
KWM partners Jonathan Pittal, Warren Allan and Gabriel Boghossian will move to the firm’s London office by mid-January with as many as six associates and two trainees to follow, Boghossian told Secondaries Investor.
At Stephenson Harwood, the team will focus on private equity transactions including buyouts, fund formation, and buy-side, sell-side and GP-led secondaries deals.
“The recruitment of Jonathan, Warren and Gabriel provides a significant expansion of our existing corporate offering,” Andrew Edge, head of corporate at Stephenson Harwood, said in a statement. “The strength of our M&A, ECM and closed ended funds practices has been widely recognised by clients and the legal directories in recent years, and this addition of a highly experienced private equity team complements and builds upon those existing practices.”
A large number of law firms approached the team between September and December, several of which submitted written offers. Stephenson Harwood, which does not have a secondaries team, emerged as the best fit because of its European focus, non-exclusivity agreements, and transaction and fund capability, Boghossian said.
Pittal, who was co-head of KWM’s UK private equity deals team, has more than 20 years of experience covering fund structuring, formation and corporate transactions. He has advised Lloyds Banking Group on several deals including a portfolio sale larger than £1 billion ($1.2 billion; €1.2 billion) to Coller Capital, according to KWM’s website.
Allan’s secondaries experience includes working with SL Capital Partners and Pantheon, and advising Core Capital on a deal funded by Access Capital Partners and 17Capital. He has also advised financial institutions on disposals, including Lloyds’ sale of 65 fund interests to Coller.
Boghossian has worked with Lexington Partners, Goldman Sachs and Unigestion, among others, on secondaries deals including Palamon Capital Partners’ stapled deal in 2015.
KWM has been losing staff and has accumulated debts of around £30 million. In late December the firm filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators, designed to protect it from its creditors and allowing it to maintain client services as it explores its options.
Recent departures include influential private equity lawyer Simon Witney, who is to join Debevoise & Plimpton as a consultant in its London office; private equity fund partners Steven Cowing and Marc Snell, who left for US-based Greenberg Traurig, and six real estate partners who joined DLA Piper.
Stephenson Harwood employs more than 900 staff globally and has offices in nine locations.