Ashurst signs up four-partner Shearman international energy team

Team move across UK and Asia comes hot on the heels of news of Shearman’s planned merger with Allen & Overy
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Ashurst has significantly boosted its international energy and infrastructure offering with the hire of four partners and a counsel across the UK and Asia from Shearman & Sterling, as the UK firm moves to gain from the accelerating transition to net zero. 

Moving across from Shearman are London-based project finance partner Sanja Udovicic, Seoul-based partner Anna Chung and Singapore-based partner Jean-Louis Neves Mandelli and counsel Scott Baggett. They will be joined by London-based energy M&A and project development partner Julia Derrick, who is returning to Ashurst after just shy of a year at the New York-based firm. 

News of the hires comes two days after Shearman & Sterling and UK Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy (A&O) unveiled plans to merge, in a move that, if voted through by both firms’ partners, will create a firm with revenue of around $3.4bn. 

Shearman, meanwhile, had been in merger talks with Hogan Lovells – though the firms called off the talks in March – and has seen a flurry of departures from its European and Middle East offices in recent months, including the loss of virtually its entire Germany team to Morgan Lewis in March. 

Commentators have suggested further departures from Shearman and possibly A&O are inevitable as the two firms work to combine their respective practices.

Ashurst said the new arrivals would increase its offering in project development and finance for both sponsors and lenders globally and further strengthen the firm's Tier 1 energy M&A business in London.

“Projects is a key area of strategic focus for Ashurst,” said Lee McDonald, global division co-head, projects, energy transition and real estate. “The rapid pace of the energy transition combined with rising energy costs and declining energy security is driving demand for expert legal advice, and this team of highly regarded practitioners will allow us to further support our clients to navigate the challenges and opportunities this presents,” he added.  

Udovicic has joined Ashurst after more than 14 years as a partner at Shearman, having joined the firm in 1997 at the start of her legal career. She focuses her practice on the development and financing of projects in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and at Shearman worked with clients including EBRD, Proparco, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank. 

Meantime, Seoul-based Chung spent 17 years at Shearman, the latter five as a partner. She advises sponsors and lenders as well as regional development banks and multilateral institutions such as K-EXIM, K-Sure, KDB and IFC, primarily on projects in the LNG, oil and gas and petrochemical sectors. 

Neves Mandelli has moved over after 14 years at Shearman, where he most recently served as managing director of the firm’s Singapore office, according to his LinkedIn profile. He advises sponsors and lenders on all development and financing aspects of power including LNG to power, conventional and renewables, oil and gas and infrastructure transactions, as well as advising on structured financings, refinancings and sustainable and sustainability-linked financings. 

Scott Baggett, who joins Ashurst as a partner, boasts experience that spans projects across the power, petrochemicals, oil and gas and mining and metals sectors. At Shearman, where he was counsel, he worked with clients including PETRONAS, AES, IFC, ADB and OPIC.

Rounding out the hires is Derrick, who specialises in M&A, project development and commercial contracts in the oil and gas sector, with a particular focus on upstream oil and gas, LNG and the energy transition. 

Ashurst’s global CEO, Paul Jenkins, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Sonny, Anna, Jean-Louis and Scott to Ashurst and are delighted Julia is also returning to the firm – it's an exciting development to welcome this team of widely-recognised practitioners. Their arrival will enable us to continue to build our reputation for advising clients in their most complex and strategically important projects.

“The team will also support our continued growth in key Asian markets by expanding project development and finance teams in the firm's Singapore office and recently-established joint venture with Korean law firm HwaHyun.”

The arrivals follow that of projects specialist Katie Williams, who joined the firm's London office as a partner from Linklaters in November 2022, and a trio of projects and corporate energy and resources-focused partners, who joined Ashurst's Perth office from Norton Rose Fulbright in August 2022. 

A Shearman & Sterling spokesperson commented on the latest departures: "We thank them for the contribution they have made to the firm and wish them all the best for the future. Our global project development & finance team continues to perform exceptionally well, delivering impressive results for both longstanding and new clients. 

“The team has had a very strong last 12 months advising on landmark energy, energy transition and infrastructure projects including advising NEOM Company, Saudi Arabia’s new city gigaproject development company, on their Helios Project to develop a $6.5bn world-scale green hydrogen and ammonia production facility.”

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