Linklaters builds leveraged finance offering in London with Vinson & Elkins partner trio

V&E London head of finance among those moving over in Linklaters’ largest team hire in its hometown in recent years

UK Magic Circle firm Linklaters has added a trio of leveraged finance partners from US rival Vinson & Elkins (V&E) in London.

V&E’s London head of finance and M&A-capital markets, Noel Hughes, is set to join Linklaters at the end of this month along with Giacomo Reali and Christianne Williams, marking Linklaters’ largest team hire in its hometown in recent years.

The firm said the new arrivals would boost its leveraged finance group’s ability to execute transactions across Europe, as well as further its strategy to represent leading financial institutions and financial sponsors on their most complex leveraged financing transactions.

The trio will join London-based US qualified high yield partners Alek Naidenov, Mark Hageman and Colin Chang and work alongside a team of nine English law leveraged finance partners covering lender-side and sponsor-side mandates for financial institutions, credit funds and private equity firms. Linklaters’ acquisition finance team is ranked Tier 1 by Legal 500 and boasts clients including the Carlyle Group, Hg, Citibank, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse.

The hires follow the loss in London last May of leveraged finance partners Annette Kurdian and Robert Burt to Allen & Overy, in a rare instance of lateral hires between Magic Circle firms.

They also mark the third team loss from Vinson's London office since last August, when three private equity partners joined Sidley Austin. In October, two more private equity partners left, this time for Gibson Dunn, including Federico Fruhbeck, who became Gibson's European head of private equity.

Hughes focuses his practice on high yield bond financings and leveraged buyouts in the European and US markets. Prior to joining V&E in 2018 he had a stint at Sidley Austin as a partner and earlier was an associate at Paul Hastings and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy. He brings experience guiding sponsors, issuers and investment banks through high-profile financings, including high-yield debt offerings, acquisition financings, debt liability management transactions and restructurings.

Giacomo Reali was promoted to partner at V&E last December and at Linklaters is expected to primarily focus on the Italian market, working alongside the firm’s team in Milan as well as supporting its Spanish and French banking and capital markets teams with his high yield capability. He represents financial institutions, private equity sponsors, asset managers and corporations in cross-border financing transactions, focusing on high-yield debt offerings, acquisition and bridge financings and preferred equity investments.

Williams, meanwhile, joins Linklaters as a partner having served as counsel at V&E and like Hughes was previously at Sidley Austin, Paul Hastings and Milbank Tweed. She focuses her practice on international capital markets and cross-border leveraged finance transactions and brings particular experience in high-yield financings for companies across Europe and emerging markets in the oil and gas, mining and natural resources sectors. She also regularly advises on debt liability management transactions and restructurings.

Linklaters’ global head of finance, Andy Vickery, said the trio’s expertise and skillsets would strengthen a targeted area of growth for the firm’s banking practice.

“They bring experience that complements that of our high yield and leveraged finance teams, and we look forward to working closely with them on our enhanced offering to a global client base,” he added.

Earlier this month, V&E hired disputes specialist Nabeel Ikram from Hogan Lovells to beef up its complex commercial litigation practice in Dubai. 




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