Latham scoops high-profile London capital markets champion from Freshfields

Mark Austin, author of UK government's Secondary Capital Raising Review, joins US giant

Latham & Watkins has hired leading London equity capital markets (ECM) specialist Mark Austin from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The hire of Austin, who has played a leading role helping the City of London reform its listing regime to maintain its competitiveness, is a major coup for Latham, which already has a formidable ECM team in the City.

Last July, he published the findings of his government-backed UK Secondary Capital Raising Review which recommended a raising of the threshold for which a prospectus should be required for secondary listings.

Austin makes the move to Latham after 12 years as a partner at Freshfields, having joined as a trainee in 2001. He boasts an impressive roster of clients, including Deliveroo, Aston Martin, Hargreaves Lansdown, Trainline and Spire Healthcare.

Charles Ruck, global chair of Latham’s corporate department, said: “Mark’s formidable transactional expertise and sophisticated knowledge of UK policy and regulation will be of tremendous value to our global clients.”

At Latham he will join forces with another of the City’s leading ECM advisers, James Inness, who noted that Latham had worked alongside Austin on “numerous high-profile deals over the years”, adding: “His expertise complements our existing capabilities perfectly and he will play a key role in the continued growth and success of our practice in the City.”

Inness is leading the Latham team advising on the listing of We Soda, the world’s largest producer of natural soda ash, which was confirmed yesterday and is expected to raise up to $800m.

There are hopes London’s largest listing this year will revive its moribund market. Latham — along with London’s other leading practices — will also be hoping the shake-up of London’s rules to make it more globally competitive, on which Austin has taken a lead, will deliver. 

In an interview with City AM in March he called for a change of culture in the City with a greater focus on celebrating success. Notably, given his move to Latham, he compared London unfavourably with the US.

“[We need] that more positive American mindset of celebrating success rather than denigrating it, and if people fail, saying ‘well good on you, try again’, rather than indulging the British tall poppy syndrome and jealousy,” he said. “It’s moving from an incumbent mindset to more of a growth, insurgent mindset as a jurisdiction, as a country.”

Austin chairs the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) Listing Advisory Panel and sits on its Markets Practitioner Panel. He is also a member of the Capital Markets Industry Taskforce and of the London Stock Exchange’s Primary Markets Group and was an adviser to the UK Listing Review, which reported in March 2021.

News of his departure from Freshfields comes the day after the UK Magic Circle firm announced three lateral partner hires in London and New York, including Shearman & Serling’s highly rated London structured products and derivatives partner James Duncan.

Today Freshfields unveiled a second New York hire, that of financial institution and fintech regulatory partner David Sewell from Perkins Coie.

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