Hengeler suffers rare partner exit to Milbank

Hengeler Mueller has suffered a rare partner exit to Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy.

Steffen Oppenlaender will join Milbank’s Munich office, becoming a partner in the private equity team. The news was first reported on German website JUVE. 

The Hengeler partner is currently based in London, where he relocated to in 2013 to help the firm cover private equity more extensively. Hengeler does not practise English law.

Oppenlaender has been with Hengeler for over a decade, joining from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett where he was an international associate.

His departure leaves Hengeler with two partners in London – corporate lawyers Martin Geiger and Daniel Kress.

The hire is Milbank’s second private equity lateral in the past nine months. Allen & Overy partner Michael Bernhardt joined at the end of last year.

While Bernhardt specialises in advising on mid-cap private equity deals, Oppenlaender will focus on large-cap transactions.

Private equity transactions on which he has advised include the 2015 sale of Armacell by Charterhouse to a consortium of Blackstone and Kirkby. He also worked on the acquisition of Wittur Group by Bain Capital the year before.

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UK 200 – Winners and losers revealed

Deputy editor Matt Byrne discusses this year’s UK 200 series, which looks back to the financial crisis and how this has influenced the winners and losers over the last 10 years.

By how much has qualified lawyer headcount grown in the past decade? What is surprising about DLA Piper’s revenue this year?

The UK 200 is the most detailed statistical analysis available of the UK’s largest firms, with insight on a range of metrics including revenue, profitability, headcount, and diversity.

To find more about this year’s UK200 series and purchase your copy, please contact Letitia Austin on 020 7970 4662 or Gilberto Esgaio on 020 7970 4191.

Read all about The Lawyer’s market reports here.

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Bär & Karrer advises Temasek on sale of Dufry stake

Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited, an investment company based in Singapore, sold its stake in Dufry AG through its indirect wholly owned subsidiary to the HNA Group.

Bär & Karrer acted as legal adviser to Temasek. The team included Thomas U Reutter, Roland Truffer, Annette Weber and Rebecca Schori (all M&A).

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Katherine Neal shortlisted for Powerwomen Award

Ogier counsel Katherine Neal has been shortlisted for a Citywealth Powerwomen award in the “Woman of the Year – Business Growth” category.

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Gowling WLG helps Conygar on portfolio sale

At the start of 2017, Conygar Investment Company plc enlisted the aid of a cross-sector team at Gowling WLG to advise it on its disposal of the Special Purposes Vehicles (SPVs) that owned its investment property portfolio to Regional Commercial Midco Limited (Regional).

Regional is the wholly owned subsidiary of Regional REIT Limited, who parted with approximately £130m for the investment property portfolio.

Corporate partner Nick Heather and tax partner Michael Murphy led on the deal, assisted by principal associate Amar Adatia and associate Vijan Ghedia. In real estate, partners Huw Roberts and Sarah Galvin, assisted by associate Natasha Brown, advised Conygar.

The complex restructuring required prior consent of Conygar’s shareholders, as well as the holders of the zero divided preference shares.

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Gowling WLG advises Brockton on retail parks sale

Gowling WLG’s Real Estate team has advised Brockton Capital on the corporate sale of its portfolio of retail parks to independent real estate investment management company, Tristan Capital Partners.

The deal, worth around £250m, was overseen by partner Sally Pinkerton and director Matt Walker in the Real Estate team, and completed in March 2017. Experts in Corporate and Construction also advised on the sale, which comprised retail parks in Rotherham, Warrington, Cardiff, Birmingham, Walsall, Milton Keynes, Bolton and Bangor in Northern Ireland.

Brockton is a longstanding client of the firm, which advised it on the acquisition of five of the parks in this sale as well as other retail parks and properties.

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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.

Earlier this week, Bakers lost another team in Continental Europe to Dentons. The latter firm recruited a four partner group, comprised of two partners, to launch a tax practice in the Netherlands.

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Freshfields opts against salary hikes for junior lawyers

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer will not be reviewing its associate and trainee pay levels this year after significant hikes in 2016.

The magic circle firm has decided to freeze 2017/18 pay bands, which were reviewed in May last year.

In a statement, London managing partner Julian Long said: “After the major revamp and increases in 2016, we have continued to review our competitive position, which, in terms of total compensation, remains strong in the market.

“We will continue to review and update, taking account of the market, in order to make sure our approach properly rewards our people for the work they do and the high standards they consistently achieve.”

The move follows a significant increase in newly-qualified and trainee pay last year. Freshfields boosted NQ salaries by almost 26 per cent to £85,000 for 2016/17.

The increase came after a static year for NQ pay at the magic circle firm in 2015, when starting pay sat at £67,500.

Freshfields also put up trainee salaries, which came into effect from 1 May 2016. First year trainees were told they would receive £43,000, up almost 5 per cent. Second year trainees were to be paid £48,000, up 4.3 per cent.

In its most recent retention results, Freshfields revealed a dip in performance keeping on just 27 of its 41 qualifiers this September, equivalent to 66 per cent. Retention of under 70 per cent is unusual among magic circle firms. It is only the second time in the last eight years it has happened, the first being Clifford Chance’s 67 per cent retention earlier this year.

Freshfields announced relatively static financial results for 2016/17 in which net profit fell nearly 1 per cent  from £617m to £612m. Revenue grew by just £3m (0.3 per cent) during the last financial year, totalling £1.33bn.

If the firm’s results from 2015/16 were retranslated using current exchange rates, its revenue would have dropped by 5 per cent from £1.4bn, while net profit would have dropped by 7 per cent from £658.9m. PEP would have dropped by 4 per cent from £1.57m.

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Gowling WLG acts on Aberdeen Frontier restructuring

Aberdeen Frontier Markets Investment Company Limited enlisted the help of Gowling WLG’s Investment Funds experts to effect a significant restructuring of the £130m AIM listed company.

The team, led by partner Nick Heather, worked with Aberdeen Frontier Markets to adopt a new investment objective and investment policy and amend its investment management arrangements to include a subscription for ordinary shares by its investment fund manager, Aberdeen Fund Managers Limited (Aberdeen).

The team also worked on a tender offer by Numis Securities, on behalf of Aberdeen, to purchase up to 100% of the ordinary shares in issue.

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Gowling WLG advises Gigaclear on £111m investment

Gigaclear plc has undertaken a £111 million of equity investments to expand its provision of ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband networks to rural communities.

Corporate partner Jeff Elway led on the fundraisings, with assistance from associates Neil Hendron and Emily Nicholson.

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