Allen & Overy and King & Spalding snap up Shearman & Sterling partners in Paris and UAE

International departures from New York firm continue in wake of its now shelved merger talks with Hogan Lovells.

(l-r) Gaspard Bastien-Thiry, Guillaume Isautier and Martin Chassany Image courtesy of Allen & Overy

Defections from US law firm Shearman & Sterling’s international network have continued, with partners departing the New York firm's Paris and Dubai offices for Allen & Overy (A&O) and King & Spalding (K&S) respectively. 

In Paris corporate partner Guillaume Isautier has joined A&O alongside counsel Martin Chassany and senior assoicate Gaspard Bastien-Thiry, while projects partner Brendan Hundt has moved over to K&S in the UAE. 

The moves follow a spate of recent defections from Shearman’s European and Middle East offices – including teams in Paris and the UAE for Gide Loyrette Nouel and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher respectively – that came against a background of the firm’s now shelved merger talks with Hogan Lovells. 

Isautier has been a partner at Shearman since 2011 and led the Paris M&A team between 2016 and 2022. He advises on both public and private M&A and private equity funds and during his time at Shearman worked with clients including BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Société Générale and French private equity fund Florac. He also advised Novartis on its $3.9bn acquisition of Nasdaq-listed Advanced Accelerator Applications in 2019. 

Dirk Meeus, partner and global co-head of A&O’s corporate practice, said: "Guillaume's appointment reflects our strategic ambition to grow our corporate practice in Paris and to reinforce our position as a leading firm for complex and innovative transactions in France and beyond. He will also contribute to our global private equity network, which spans Europe, Asia, the US and the Middle East."

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Meantime, Hundt has left Shearman after nearly 16 years at the firm, where he became a partner in 2021. He has joined K&S as a partner in its Middle East energy and project finance team and will split his time between the firm’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices.

Hundt advises on international project development and finance in the infrastructure, utilities, energy transition and oil and gas sectors across the Middle East and North Africa. He represents corporate and government-owned clients and brings extensive experience on both the sponsor and lender sides of projects to his new firm. 

At K&S Hundt will be reunited with projects partner Dan Feldman, who left Shearman last month to join the firm in Abu Dhabi. K&S also promoted Abu Dhabi-based James Clark to partner in January to work alongside veteran partner Tim Burbury, who helps lead the firm’s global energy and project finance transactional team and global construction transactional team. 

Nabil Issa, managing partner of the firm’s Middle East offices, commented: “We’ve been strategically growing our projects practice as the Middle East infrastructure market is booming with large-scale projects across the region, and we are excited about top-quality hires like Brendan and Dan that strengthen our teams in the United Arab Emirates.

“There are several current key initiatives – such as COP 28 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and Saudi Vision 2030 – that are focused on economic growth and energy transition with a focus on power, water and clean energy opportunities. Adding Brendan evidences our commitment to the Middle East to meet those client needs.”

A Shearman spokesperson thanked the departing lawyer for their contributions to the firm and wished them the best. 

Shearman and Hogan Lovells confirmed earlier this month that they had mutually agreed to call off merger talks, putting a halt to a potential tie-up that would have created a firm with more then $3.6bn in revenue. 

The flurry of recent partner departures from Shearman’s international offices suggest some may have been unsettled by the talks and the prospect of integrating with Hogan Lovells' significantly larger network.

In January, a seven-strong team led by partners Sami Toutounji and Françoise Even left to set up an employee shareholding practice at leading French rival Gide Loyrette Nouel, the same month that seven more lawyers left Shearman to launch Gibson Dunn’s new base in Abu Dhabi. 

There have also been a number of recent senior defections from Shearman’s London office, including EMEA and Asia M&A head Phil Cheveley leaving for Sidley Austin last month. And earlier this month the firm saw virtually its entire Germany team decamp to Morgan Lewis to launch an office in Munich. 

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