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21 July 2020

Cahill Gordon bets big on former Allen & Overy leveraged finance duo

US firm says partner hires will help put its London finance practice on par with New York

By Ben Rigby

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Cahill Gordon & Reindel has hired two leading London finance partners from Allen & Overy as it seeks to bolster its London financial capabilities. 

Jonathan Brownson, who was previously head of Allen & Overy’s leveraged finance practice, will join the firm in September, along with debt finance specialist Jake Keaveny.

The move marks a return to Cahill for Keaveny, six years after leaving for A&O, and follows the retirement of London high-yield finance partner James Robinson earlier this year.

Brownson, meanwhile, is a highly experienced banking lawyer with considerable transactional experience, who had spent more than 25 years at A&O, acting for both lenders and borrowers across syndicated lending deals and other complex finance mandates.

Bill Hartnett, Cahill's chairman, said the arrival of both men would help put the firm’s UK and European lender-focused finance practice on par with its business in New York. 

He added: “This is the right moment for Cahill to expand its position in London, and we anticipate that our presence in the UK and European banking and capital markets will grow tremendously with Jonathan and Jake on board."  

The hires mark an expansion of Cahill’s London finance capabilities; the US-headquartered firm has a 31.1% share of representations in the high-yield market, and a 45% share of the leveraged lending market, according to Bloomberg, and is said to be keen to grow its share of UK opportunities.

Five years after opening in London, it now wants to harness the financing opportunities that will flow from both UK and EU markets. Cahill’s practice spans underwriters and arrangers, where it has been highly regarded for several years.

Brownson said he was looking forward to building out the firm’s platform, saying he “had been of the opinion for a long time that Cahill has an enormous opportunity for growth in London," and was pleased to be a part of it.

Keaveny, meanwhile, said he was happy to be returning to the firm, where he had many friends, and looked forward to helping grow the London office. It is not known if any of the duo’s former associates will be joining them; Cahill is also known for paying both partners and staff well.

Herbert Smith Freehills also expanded its finance capabilities recently, with the hire of equity capital markets specialist Michael Jacobs from A&O, while banking partner David Irvine re-joined Linklaters after a five-year stint at Kirkland & Ellis. 

Elsewhere, Shearman & Sterling’s global head of leveraged finance Ward McKimm was promoted to European regional managing partner in June 2020, having re-joined the firm in 2018 from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

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