Gibson Dunn boosts London corporate bench with PE trio from Vinson & Elkins

Federico Fruhbeck to serve as Gibson Dunn’s Europe head of private equity and comes aboard with Vinson partner Robert Dixon and counsel Alice Brogi

(l-r) Alice Brogi, Federico Fruhbeck and Robert Dixon Images courtesy of Vinson & Elkins

Top 15 US firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has boosted its private equity M&A capabilities in London with a trio of partner-level hires from US rival Vinson & Elkins amid a booming market for corporate and private equity lateral hires.  

Vinson partners Federico Fruhbeck – who will serve as Gibson Dunn’s European head of private equity – and Robert Dixon are moving across alongside counsel Alice Brogi, who joins as a partner.

They are the latest of a flurry of corporate M&A and private equity hires in London as the global deal market continues to boom, with private equity-backed global M&A hitting a record high in the third quarter, accounting for almost a fifth of M&A activity over that period, according to data supplied by Refinitiv.

Last week, Kirkland & Ellis hired private equity partners Vincent Bergin and Keir MacLennan from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London while earlier this month White & Case hired three private equity partners from US rival Dechert.

The Gibson hires replenish the M&A capabilities of the LA-based firm’s London corporate practice, which since last June has lost its chair, former Ashurst senior partner Charlie Geffen, along with fellow heavyhitters Nigel Stacey and Jonathan Earle.

All three joined Gibson Dunn during 2014 as part of a concerted push to bring in star talent for its London office and brought extensive M&A experience to the firm. Geffen currently serves as chair of The International Stock Exchange Group, while Stacey left to be co-head of Baker Bott’s cross-border M&A and public M&A practices and Earle joined DLA Piper.

Gibson Dunn said the V&E trio will continue to focus on cross-border M&A, particularly infrastructure, ESG and real assets transactions for both private equity and corporate clients. The team is active in a number of sectors including energy transition, transportation, telecoms, shipping and building materials, and also advises on global impact and climate change related investments.

Barbara Becker, chair and managing partner of Gibson Dunn, said she was “delighted” to welcome the trio to the firm, adding: “Growing the transactional practice in London and beyond is a strategic focus for us. The addition of these seasoned deal lawyers expands our ability to develop the private equity infrastructure work we are handling in London, New York and Asia, as well as deepens our broader private equity M&A practice globally.”

Dixon is a V&E veteran, having joined the firm in 2009 from Slaughter and May and making partner three years later. He advises private equity and corporate clients on M&A and equity investments, with a focus on cross-border M&A infrastructure transactions. 

Fruhbeck joined the Houston-based firm as a counsel in 2017 from the London office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, making partner the next year. His practice focuses on cross-border M&A transactions across Europe for private equity clients and large family-owned conglomerates, with particular experience in the infrastructure and real assets industries. Last October, Legal Week named him as one of 25 private equity rising stars in London.

Newly-minted Gibson Dunn partner Brogi, meanwhile, served as a counsel during her five years at V&E, having previously worked as an associate at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft in London. She advises clients on matters including domestic and cross-border acquisitions, preferred equity and debt investments, joint ventures and portfolio acquisitions in the UK and across Europe.

Gibson Dunn London corporate transactional partner Jeremy Kenley praised the trio’s “impressive deal sheets and strong top-tier client relationships”, which he said align closely with the firm’s private equity real estate practice in London.

Their departure from V&E follow’s the firm’s loss of private equity partner trio Dan Graham, Paul Dunbar and Emilie Stewart to the London office of Sidley Austin, another US rival, in August. Going the other way, the firm added M&A partner Gabriel Silva in New York earlier this year from Linklaters as it seeks to expand its cross-border transactions capabilities, particularly in Latin America.

A spokesperson for V&E said: "Although it’s never easy to see colleagues leave, our London office has grown to around 100 lawyers and staff since we established our presence here 50 years ago. There is no change to our focus on expanding our practice and continuing to advise our clients who operate in the world’s most important industrial and digital industries.”


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