Freshfields recruits Skadden New York head of tax

Steven Matays joins Magic Circle firm as it continues to push for more US market share

Steven Matays Image courtesy of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has hired the head of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s New York tax practice, as it continues a run of US hires to help it grow market share. 

Steven Matays has been a partner at Skadden since 2009 and brings more than 20 years of experience representing clients on complex US and international tax matters. His practice focuses on M&A, spin-offs and other divestitures, complex debt and equity offerings, corporate and partnership restructurings and joint ventures. 

“As a high-profile tax partner with a strong technical reputation and experience with complex transactions and strategic tax matters, Steven is the perfect fit to help us expand our offering in the US,” said Jill Gatehouse, Freshfields’ global head of tax. “His experience and first-rate advisory skills will be a huge benefit to us and our clients.”

At Skadden Matays acted in numerous multibillion deals, including advising Twenty-First Century Fox on its $71bn acquisition by the Walt Disney Company in 2017 and Worldpay on its $43bn merger with FIS in 2019. More recently he advised Wells Fargo in the $2.1 billion carve-out sale of Wells Fargo Asset Management to GTCR and Reverence Capital Partners. 

“Freshfields is the firm to watch in the US,” Matays said. “I’ve been impressed by how the firm has become a go-to outside counsel for the most important assignments of high-profile clients especially in M&A over the last few years. I’m excited to be a part of the team and I look forward to contributing to the next phase of growth.” 

Freshfields’ US presence has grown by nearly 30% over the past year to 390 lawyers, according to data from Pirical. The firm has made a run of hires this year in New York from Big Law rivals, including M&A partner Joshua Ayal and capital markets partner Jacqueline Marino earlier this month from Kirkland & Ellis and Davis Polk & Wardwell respectively. 

Earlier in the year the firm also added M&A partners Sanjay Murti and Steven Li to the office from Cravath and Kirkland respectively, as well as private equity M&A partners Neal Reenan and Ian Bushner from Latham & Watkins. 

The hires have come amid pressure on the UK Magic Circle firms to respond to Allen & Overy’s landmark merger with New York stalwart Shearman & Sterling, which created a top five global law firm by revenue when it went live last month

Meantime, last month the Financial Times reported that Skadden was set to lose David Hepp, co-head of its financial institutions group, to Paul Weiss in New York, amid an ongoing war for elite talent that has seen it lose partners recently to rivals including Paul Hastings, Latham and Simpson Thacher. 

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