Dechert secures Travers Smith PE funds partner in London

Sam Kay exit sees top UK independent Travers lose another partner following series of defections for US and UK rivals

Dechert has bolstered its funds formation offering in London with the hire of partner Sam Kay from Travers Smith. 

Kay has joined the top 40 US firm after 25 years at Travers, where he has been a partner in the funds team since 2008.

His is the latest in a series of recent partner exits from Travers’ London office, five other partners having quit for US and UK firms since the start of the year. 

Kay specialises in fund formation work for private funds and asset management clients in the private equity, private debt/credit, infrastructure and real estate sectors. He also regularly works on GP-led transactions and secondaries (both buy-side and sell-side), carried interest arrangements and co-investment schemes.

 “We have worked across from Sam for a very long time and are thrilled to have him join us,” said Gus Black, co-chair of Dechert's global financial services group and chair of Dechert’s London management committee. “His reputation and experience will help shape our continued growth in the London private equity fund formation market, amongst others.”

At Dechert, Kay will be a partner in the financial services and investment management practice, which currently houses north of 50 lawyers in London including 22 partners. The firm’s London office boasts an established investment funds offering and Kay will work alongside partners including Gus Black, Abigail Bell and Craig Borthwick, the latter of whom led a team that advised London hedge fund manager FITFHDELTA on the $1.3bn launch of its first hedge fund in 2021. 

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Kay said, “I am excited to be joining Dechert and to be able to work with such a talented and experienced team of lawyers. The breadth and depth of the platform will provide tremendous opportunities as the private funds market, and private equity in particular, continues to develop in its size, scale and sophistication. I look forward to contributing to the growth of the practice.”

For its part Travers will be hoping to draw a line under a string of departures since the start of the year. Its bench of highly regarded lawyers in and around the private equity space makes it an obvious hunting ground for rival firms seeking talented practitioners.

Unlike many of its London-based rivals, the firm saw profit per equity partner drop slightly to £1.1m from £1.22m in the year ending 30 June 2022. 

Former private equity and financial sponsors group head Ian Shawyer joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in January, the same month former M&A tax lead Jessica Kemp signed up with White & Case. In February, funds duo Ed Ford and Sacha Gofton-Salmond joined Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, while earlier this month private equity rising star Genna Marten moved over to Linklaters

Travers' funds practice will have 10 partners following Marten’s departure, including practice head Aaron Stocks. 

A Travers spokesperson confirmed Kay’s departure, commenting: "We wish Sam all the best in his next role."


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