HSF hires Sidley partner in London as head of international private equity

Private capital push also sees Anglo-Australian firm appoint new partner from DLA Piper to co-head UK venture capital practice

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has bolstered its private capital offering in the City with the hire of a private equity partner from Sidley Austin and a venture and growth capital specialist from DLA Piper.  

Eleanor Shanks will join HSF from Sidley to serve in the new role of head of international private equity in London, while Dylan Doran Kennett is leaving DLA Piper to co-lead the firm’s UK venture capital and growth capital practice with partner Michael Jacobs. 

Private capital is a key focus for HSF, the firm’s joint managing partner for corporate, Mike Flockhart, said in a statement.

“We’ve already been acting for many large, global private capital clients – Eleanor’s and Dylan’s breadth of expertise and skills complements our strengths,” he said. “These appointments will enhance the firm’s offering to our clients including some of the biggest players in the private equity market, as well as venture and growth capital clients throughout their lifecycle on both domestic and multi-jurisdictional matters.”

Shanks joins HSF after four years as a partner at Sidley, prior to which she was at Proskauer Rose. She advises private equity sponsors, investors and funds on transactions across the infrastructure, real estate, financial services and life sciences sectors, among others. She also advises on shareholder arrangements and management equity plans, co-investments and general corporate matters. 

Shanks’ departure from Sidley follows the firm bolstering its London private equity team in March with a pair of partners from Weil, which it followed up with another double partner hire a few months later from Paul Weiss

In her new role at HSF she will work with existing private equity partners John Taylor, David D’Souza, who joined the firm from Kirkland & Ellis in 2020, and Joseph Dennis, the firm said. 

Meantime Doran Kennett is joining HSF as a partner after 11 years at DLA Piper, where he was most recently a senior associate in the corporate team. His practice covers the technology, life sciences, sport and media and entertainment sectors, and alongside venture and growth capital he brings experience in domestic and cross-border M&A and private equity transactions. 

Previous work includes leading the investment into Eagle Football to enable the acquisition of a controlling stake in French football club Olympique Lyonnais and advising Vita Mojo on their $30m Series B fundraise from Battery Ventures.

The duo’s hire continues a private capital growth push by HSF that has seen the firm promote 12 new partners with a significant private capital element to their practice globally since the start of the year, including three in London. It has also made five lateral partner hires, among them leveraged finance specialist Ambarish Dash in London in March from Kirkland & Ellis and most recently private equity lawyer Peiwen Chen and energy lawyer Anthony Patten in Singapore from White & Case and King & Spalding respectively. 

Shanks and Doran Kennett’s move also comes amid a particularly competitive hiring market in London that saw Paul Weiss complete an eight-partner private equity raid on Kirkland & Ellis last month that included debt finance heavyweight Neel Sachdev. 

The month before Kirkland had hired Paul Weiss’s London head – leading private equity lawyer Alvaro Membrillera – which at the time left Paul Weiss with just three partners in the City. 

Sidley Austin declined to comment on Shanks’ departure. DLA Piper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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