Milbank unveils quartet of Hong Kong M&A and private equity partners after raids on UK Magic Circle

New arrivals include ex-Clifford Chance Asia Pacific private equity co-heads Andrew Whan and Neeraj Budhwani

Neeraj Budhwani (left) and Davide Mencacci

Leading Wall Street firm Milbank has unveiled a quartet of partner-level lateral hires in Hong Kong as it seeks to build out its M&A, private equity and leveraged finance business.

Partners Andrew Whan and Neeraj Budhwani have joined from Clifford Chance, where they were co-heads of its Asia Pacific private equity practice, while Davide Mencacci and John Bona arrive from Linklaters, where Mencacci was global head of banking and Bona a banking and finance counsel.

News of the hires of Whan, Budhwani and Mencacci first broke in November, but Milbank, which lays claim to being the first US firm to open in Hong Kong, has waited until now, with Budhwani, Mencacci and Bona safely installed in their new firm, to announce the moves. Whan will be joining as a partner in due course.

Scott Edelman, Milbank’s chairman, said: “We remain deeply committed to expanding our M&A, private equity and leveraged finance offerings and the addition of this tremendous team of new partners will further enhance our ability to service clients in Hong Kong, throughout Asia Pacific and globally.”

Whan and Budhwani’s practice primarily focuses on advising private equity funds on domestic and international leveraged buyouts, venture capital deals and public M&A transactions, acting for some of the largest private equity houses in the world, including Carlyle, CVC and Permira. 

Last Summer, Whan led the CC team that advised Permira on its majority investment in EF Kids & Teens, which has more than 350 English-language schools in China and and Indonesia in a deal that valued the business at around $1.5bn, according to the Financial Times

Likewise, Mencacci and Bona’s practice focuses on leveraged finance, as well as structured finance, investment-grade finance and real estate funding across Europe and Asia.

David Zemans, Milbank’s Asia Practice managing partner and member of its global executive committee, said: “Andrew, Davide, Neeraj and John bring a technical prowess and deep market knowledge that will allow us to continue to tackle the most complex transactions in the region and strengthen our reputation as one of the leading private equity and leveraged finance practices in the Asia Pacific market.”

Whan brings with him almost two decades of experience at Clifford Chance in Hong Kong, where he was also head of its Asia Pacific corporate and M&A practice. Budhwani has more than 20 years of cross-border private equity experience in Hong Kong and London. Mencacci also has more than two decades of experience, 13 of which were spent at Linklaters in Hong Kong and Milan. 

Budhwani said: “Milbank’s Hong Kong team has demonstrated a remarkable ability to deliver world-class counsel on a range of transactions including private equity, M&A, restructurings and related financing matters, all while remaining incredibly lean and efficient.”

In June last year, the firm, which has 11 offices in total and four in Asia, hired capital markets partner Liang Tao from Allen & Overy in Hong Kong to bolster  its pan-Asia capital markets offering. And earlier this month it announced the hire of CC partners Barbara Mayer-Trautmann and Markus Muhs plus a team of nine associates in Munich, bolstering its finance and corporate capabilities.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Linklaters appointed Madrid-based Ben Crosse and London’s Philip Spittal to succeed Mencacci as co-heads of its global banking group. 

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