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06 July 2020

Sidley Austin promotes four European private equity specialists in response to loss of key duo

Chicago firm greets departure of Erik Dahl and Christian Iwasko by signalling faith in European quartet

By Ben Rigby

Munich: Chicago firm has promoted two local private equity specialists to leadership positions PhotoLondonUK; Shutterstock

Sidley Austin has moved to shore up its private equity team in London and Munich following the departure of two partners credited with kick-starting the firm’s European practice.

Four private equity specialists have been promoted — two to leadership positions, two to the partnership — in the wake of the high-profile exits of Munich managing partner and co-head of private equity Erik Dahl and London-based Christian Iwasko to as yet unknown destinations.

Dahl and Iwasko, whose departures were confirmed last week, were part of a six-partner team hired from Kirkland & Ellis’s London office in April 2016 that signalled a concerted bid by the Chicago-based firm to grow its European private equity practice as part of a firm-wide push.

Their departures have paved the way for the promotion of four fellow Kirkland alumni, suggesting the firm is moving quickly to head off further exits.

In London, two members of the team that moved across to Sidley with Dahl and Iwasko have been promoted to the partnership: Jason Menzies and Adam Runcorn.

They join the first junior member of that team to make partner: Michelle Tong was promoted in the firm’s November partnership round.

Meanwhile, in Munich, tax partner Roderic Pagel has taken over as Munich managing partner and Volker Kullman has replaced Dahl on the firm’s executive committee.

Kullman and Pagel were among a second wave of seven Kirkland partners who followed Dahl to join Sidley’s newly opened Munich office in February 2017.

Mike Schmidtberger, chair of Sidley’s executive committee, thanked Pagel “for his willingness to lead our Munich office during this time of change” hailing him as “a stellar lawyer [who] shares our vision for continued growth in this important market.”

He described Menzies and Runcorn as “trusted client advisers… and integral members of Sidley’s private equity team”.

Larry Barden, chair of Sidley’s management committee, also heaped praise on the newly promoted partners.

“When we have standout lawyers like Jason and Adam, it is our pleasure to recognize them with a well-deserved promotion,” he said. “Their proven track record of stellar client work and commitment to collegiality and teamwork will serve us well as we continue efforts to strategically build out our private equity capabilities.”

According to a recent analysis by Bloomberg Law, Sidley has deployed a string of high profile lateral hires to help it ‘shake up the private equity space’ with revenue hitting around $300m in 2019, up from just $50m in 2011 thanks to work from clients including KKR, Clearlake Capital, Siris Capital, Apollo, The Carlyle Group, Great Hill Partners, and Towerbrook.

This year the firm has jumped to eighth place in Mergermarket’s global H1 private equity league table by deal count advising on 24 deals – up by nine from 2019 — valued at $1.2bn.

Sidley’s London restructuring practice has also seen some exits. Five associates joined Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath’s restructuring team in July, following a two-partner move in June. 

Wayne Beck, Buvini Kularatne, Raphaela Cotoulas, Katie Crispi and Abigail Taylor have reunited with finance partners, US-based global restructuring head James Conlan and London’s Patrick Corr. 

The team moves mark a positive addition to the firm’s roster, not long after the merger in February that saw Faegre Baker Daniels tie up with Drinker Biddle & Reath.

In response, Sidley highlighted its “deep, experienced and active bankruptcy and restructuring team”, led by Jessica Boelter and Bojan Guzina. 

The firm added: “We remain committed to this practice area, and of course to providing clients with solutions to their most pressing issues.”

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