10 Jan 2023

Cleary Gottlieb raids Travers Smith and Dechert in London for partner trio

Wall Street firm continues eye-catching UK investment, targeting private equity and insolvency

City of London skyline at sunset

The City of London Jeremy Reddington/Shutterstock

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has boosted its London arm with the hire of a senior private equity partner from Travers Smith and two insolvency partners from Dechert.

Joining the Wall Street firm — one of the last elite firms on either side of the Atlantic still to operate a pure lockstep partner remuneration model — are Travers Smith’s Ian Shawyer and Dechert duo Solomon Noh and Alastair Goldrein.

Shawyer’s arrival is notable for coming hard on the heels of the hire of senior M&A partner Nick Rumsby from Linklaters in London last November, the Wall Street firm having also made up a UK litigation specialist and capital markets lawyer to the partnership in the same month.

That represents an eye-catching expansion of the firm's London team.

Shawyer was head of Travers Smith’s private equity and financial sponsors group with clients including Bridgepoint Development Capital, Epiris, Benson Elliot Capital Management and the Carlyle Group.

Ranked in Band 1 for mid-market private equity his practice spans leveraged buyouts, consortium deals, bolt-on acquisitions, carve-outs, co-investments, minority deals, recapitalisations, divestments, distressed M&A, public-to-privates and joint ventures. 

“Ian’s depth of experience and standing in the market will significantly bolster our London and broader EMEA private equity practices,” said Cleary’s managing partner, Michael Gerstenzang.

Meanwhile, Cleary said the hire of Noh and Goldrein  — whose start date is yet to be agreed, according to Dechert  — marked a ‘significant expansion’ of its capabilities in London, where, according to its website, it currently has four partners working on bankruptcy and restructuring matters. 

“We are delighted to welcome Solomon and Alastair to our firm,” said Gerstenzang. “Their experience in cross-border restructuring will help guide our clients as they navigate a challenging and rapidly-evolving market environment.”

Noh’s practice focuses on the representation of private capital funds and bondholder groups in distressed debt situations around the world and he also represents banks and investment managers in commercial transactions, including financings and mergers and acquisitions. He has joined after three years in Dechert’s London office, prior to which he spent 17 years at Shearman & Sterling in New York.

Meantime, Goldrein also joined Dechert in early 2020 from Shearman & Sterling, where he was counsel. He advises creditors, sponsors, insolvent companies and insolvency practitioners on all aspects of international restructurings, insolvency and corporate rescues.

Cleary noted that the duo’s restructuring expertise would also support other related areas such as private credit, special situations and emerging markets. 

“We have a strong global emerging markets restructuring practice with a leading position in Latin America," said Richard Cooper, senior partner in the global restructuring team at Cleary. "We expect Solomon and Alastair’s experience to complement this practice in the EMEA region. Both are incredible lawyers with a lot of experience in the creditor side of restructuring in Europe, and they will help develop a broader offering for our clients with global reach.”

Cleary’s bankruptcy and restructuring practice currently includes 47 lawyers globally, most of whom are based in New York. Noted by Chambers for its cross-border expertise, the team has worked with clients including LATAM Airlines Group, Goldman Sachs Mortgage Company and billionaire businessman Eddie Lampert in relation to Chapter 11 proceedings in the US. Meantime the London-based team has worked on restructuring matters for clients including Eurasian Resources Group and Indonesia’s national air carrier Garuda Indonesia.

The hire of the trio in London brings Cleary's partner count in the city to 29 amid a wider team of around 100 lawyers. 

Last month, the Cleary's Wall Street rival, Milbank, announced the absorbtion of the London office of highly rated corporate law boutique Dickson Minto, handing it a seven-partner private equity focused team that has long been vaunted as one of the last remaining top quality targets for leading US firms seeking to grow their London presence through large team hires or mergers.

Commenting on Shawyer's departure, a Travers Smith spokesperson said: "Travers Smith is proud to have one of the leading asset management and private equity practices in the market. Whilst we will be sorry to see Ian Shawyer go, and wish him all the best for the future, we will continue to work with our global client base, helping them achieve their goals."
 

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