Appointments: Shoosmiths lands Telefónica GC, Oon & Bazul names new head of M&A

This week's roundup also includes Withers, Bird & Bird and Clifford Chance

Ed Smith of Shoosmiths and Ng Yi Wayn of Oon & Bazul Images courtesy of Shoosmiths and Oon & Bazul

Telefónica veteran for Shoosmiths 

Shoosmiths has landed Telefónica’s former UK general counsel Ed Smith, who is set to join the firm next month as a commercial partner after 20 years in-house at the telecoms giant.

Smith left Telefónica in July as the £31bn merger between its parent company 02 and Virgin Media was being finalised and had a prior relationship with Shoosmiths, having relied upon the firm as a key advisor during his time as GC.

A respected in-house leader, Smith commented: “Once I decided I wanted to return to private practice, I was in the fortunate position of being the subject of interest from a number of firms, but it quickly became apparent that the spirit, energy, vision, client focus and increasing diversity and inclusion focus of Shoosmiths made it the right choice for me.”

Smith joined Telefónica from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2001 as a legal counsel and served as head of corporate and commercial law and head of legal before becoming UK GC in 2011.

He will join Shoosmiths’ business advisory division, with its head Stuart Little commenting that Smith has “invaluable board-level experience at a large and complex organisation and has recruited and led multi-disciplinary teams.

“Ed has shouldered huge responsibility for major projects, large scale litigation, responding to relentless sectorial regulation and, crucially, contributing to the executive decision making at Telefónica and managing legal budgets and relationships. We are keen to bring Ed’s unique insight to bear for the benefit of our clients.”

Oon & Bazul appoints M&A head

Singapore’s Oon & Bazul has named Ng Yi Wayn as the head of its M&A practice amid a surge of M&A demand resulting from Covid-19 lockdowns. 

Ng joined the firm from RHTLaw Asia last September, just a few months after the firm hired restructuring and insolvency partner Keith Han from Clifford Chance in July. The firm's current partners headcount stands at 17.  

She brings with her eight years of experience at RHTLaw advising on domestic and cross-border M&A, as well share disposals and other equity capital market deals. Following her appointment, Ng will lead a team of lawyers in providing comprehensive legal advice across the full spectrum of corporate M&A transactions, the firm said, from the initial structuring and strategising stages to due diligence, documentation and negotiations, and attending to completion as well as post-completion matters. 

Ng’s clientele includes actors in the technology, media and communication, education and healthcare sectors. 

Bazul Ashhab, managing partner and head of the firm’s dispute resolution practice, said: “Yi Wayn has been with the firm for a year and has done exceedingly well in executing her duties as corporate partner.” 

He added: “The consensus between my partners and I is that her elevation to head of M&A is well suited and timed to drive the firm’s standing in covering both domestic and cross-border transactions across a broad range of industries, in particular, given the pent-up M&A demand stemming from last year’s COVID-19 lockdown.” 

Vinson & Elkins adds tax leadership in London

Vinson & Elkins has continued its strategic growth push in London with the appointment of Peita Menon as a partner in its global tax practice. 

In his new role, he will lead the firm’s London and EMEA tax practices, advising domestic and international clients in transactional matters across a range of industries. 

Menon joins from White & Case, where he led the firm’s UK tax team and co-led its EMEA tax practice. He handles major transactions including public and private M&A as well as banking and finance matters. 

He also has a strong track record in domestic and cross-border restructurings, having decided and implemented complex structures in this area for a number of well-known multinationals. 

Mark Kelly, chairman of Vinson & Elkins, said: “Our corporate tax practice has long been a core strength of our firm and Peita’s experience in our areas of focus, including private equity, M&A, restructuring, real estate and cross-border transactions helps to add further value to our clients.”

CYK bolsters Russia and CIS dispute resolution reach in London

Cooke Young & Keidan (CYK) has hired Mikhail Vishnyakov from Linklaters in London to boost the dispute resolution boutique’s capabilities in Russia and CIS countries. 

Vishnyakov, who joins the firm as counsel, arrives at CYK after seven years at Linklaters, having joined in 2014 from SJ Berwin. He specialises in dispute resolution with a focus on international arbitration and advising on corporate disputes and claims concerning assets in emerging markets. He also advises on financial sanctions and anti-bribery and corruption issues. 

Vishnyakov commented: “Having worked for many years in Russian litigation and beyond, this is a very exciting opportunity. CYK has a well-documented track record in international arbitration, including in Russia and the CIS.” 

Robert Coffey, CYK’s managing partner, added: “This is a key strategic hire for our international arbitration practice and further strengthens our capabilities. Mikhail will be a real asset in helping the firm continue to expand – we have particular strengths litigating in Russia and the wider CIS regions already and have our sights set on building this out further.” 

Founded in 2009, CYK specialises in undertaking substantial English Court litigation, international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution, working for businesses in the UK and abroad as well as for high-net-worth individuals.

Withers builds in Hong Kong

Withers has hired partner and commercial litigator Michael Chik from Bird & Bird in Hong Kong. 

Chik joins the firm alongside associate Zoe Chung as part of Withers’ efforts to build litigation and arbitration platforms in Asia. He spent two years at Bird & Bird as a partner, having joined from Norton Rose Fulbright’s Hong Kong office in 2019, where he served as counsel. He has also held roles at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and DLA Piper. 

Chik specialises in handling complex and high-value commercial transactions, trusts, shareholder disputes, financial institution disputes and estate or probate disputes for a broad range of institutional clients including banks, asset managers and listed companies, as well as individual clients including senior executives of listed corporations. 

Rita Ku, Withers dispute partner in Hong Kong, said: “Michael's experience in cross border, complex commercial disputes and high profile cases will be a strong addition to our bench strength of dispute resolution lawyers. His arrival also reinforces our recognised expertise in trust and succession disputes, strengthening our reputation as the world's largest team of inheritance and trust lawyers."

Bird & Bird adds TMT disputes veteran

Going the other way, Bird & Bird has bolstered its dispute resolution bench with the addition of Julie Cheeseman as a partner in Sydney.

Cheeseman joins the firm after nearly a decade in Ashurst’s IP and media team, initially as a senior associate and later as counsel. She specialises in TMT disputes covering a variety of technologies and complex implementations including billing, inventory management, customer management and e-Health systems as well as satellite and cable transmission networks.

Shane Barber, head of the Sydney office at Bird & Bird described Cheeseman as “well known in the Australian TMT market for her in-depth knowledge of digital projects and impressive track-record in litigation.”

Prior to Ashurst Cheeseman spent eight years as a lawyer and senior associate at legacy firm Blake Dawson, one of the Australian Big Six, which Ashurst merged with its Asian business in 2012.

GHP boosts corporate group in Jakarta

Indonesia’s Guido Hidayanto & Partners (GHP) has hired Yohanes Masengi as a partner in Jakarta from regional rival Makarim & Taira S, where he worked for more than 15 years. 

Masengi advises on investment, infrastructure, power projects, ports, M&A, joint ventures, employment and corporate restructuring. Following his arrival, GHP now has 12 partners. 

Throughout his career, Masengi has represented independent power producers in the development of large-scale power projects in Indonesia and providing legal assistance in various joint ventures and the establishment of companies in the country. He also advised on various matters related to their concession and business activities. 

He joined Makarim in 2005 as its youngest partner, and has since been ranked as the Indonesian Rising Star Lawyer of 2019 and 2020 by Asian Legal Business.

CMS lands IP partner in London

CMS has added Ben Hitchens as a partner in its intellectual property practice in London from Locke Lord. 

Hitchens’ practice covers all aspects of IP law with a particular focus on trademark and copyright disputes, increasingly within an online or digital context. He joins the international firm’s London arm after nearly a decade at Locke Lord, including three as a partner. 

He has extensive experience managing large trademark portfolios as well as complex, multi-jurisdictional IP disputes on behalf of some of the world’s best-known brands. Hitchens has also counselled clients in actions before the English High Court and Court of Appeal, as well as the Court of Justice of the European Union. 

CMS UK’s IP team includes more than 15 partners as part of a team of more than 130 lawyers and IP professionals. Sarah Wright, head of IP at CMS UK, said Hitchens’ track record advising clients across the technology, financial services and consumer product sectors aligns well with the firm’s sector-driven approach. 

She added: “Ben’s appointment builds on the internal promotions we’ve made over the last two years, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to further strengthening the IP practice in line with the needs of our clients.”

Clifford Chance re-hires infrastructure partner in Paris

Clifford Chance has re-hired Benjamin de Blégiers as a corporate partner in Paris, two years after he departed the Magic Circle firm for Weil Gotshal & Manges. 

Following his appointment, de Blégiers will also co-lead the firm’s infrastructure practice alongside Toby Parkinson, who is based in London. 

De Blégiers has extensive experience in private equity and M&A Matters with a particular focus on the infrastructure sector. He advises investment funds, insurance companies, pension funds and other long-term investors in their most complex corporate finance operations, both in France and internationally.  

Mathieu Remy, managing partner of the Paris office, commented: "We are particularly happy that Benjamin de Blégiers, who has completed most of his career with Clifford Chance, is returning to the firm. The recruitment of a unanimously recognised expert like Benjamin testifies the firm's desire, and in particular the desire of the Paris office, to strengthen our private equity practice, of which the infrastructure sector is an integral part."


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