Simpson Thacher re-hires real estate finance partner from Kirkland in London

James Esterkin re-joins the firm five years after he left for Chicago-based rival in 2017

James Esterkin

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has re-hired James Esterkin from US rival Kirkland & Ellis as a partner in the firm’s real estate practice in London. 

Esterkin re-joins the firm five years after he departed for Kirkland as a real estate finance associate, where he was later promoted to partner in 2018. He was an associate during his first stint at Simpson Thacher between 2013 and 2017 after he began his legal career at Berwin Leighton Paisner – now Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner – in 2011. 

He focuses his practice on complex real estate acquisition and development financing, non-performing loan financing arrangements and the restructuring of real estate-related secured debt, the firm said. 

During his time at Kirkland, Esterkin worked on AccorInvest Group’s €4.5bn financial restructuring in 2021 alongside fellow partners Vincent Ponsonaille and Laurent Victor-Michel. He was also part of the team advising in connection to Brookfield Asset Management’s recommended cash offer for Dublin-based public real estate trust Hibernia REIT earlier this year. 

Simpson Thacher’s own London real estate team has kept busy this year – in February it advised Blackstone on the $24bn recapitalisation of Mileway, the biggest operator of urban warehouses in Europe, in what was deemed the largest private real estate transaction ever. 

Alden Millard, chair of Simpson Thacher’s executive committee, said: “James has a unique blend of skills across the real estate sector with experience in all sub-real estate asset classes and European geographies that will be of tremendous value to our clients.”

Simpson Thacher made a lateral hires in London in 2020, a roster that included Allen & Overy’s former co-head of global antitrust Antonio Bavasso, who went on to launch the firm’s Brussels office last September. The firm promoted three London lawyers to partner in 2020, but London promotions dipped to just one in 2021 with the sole City spot going to corporate specialist Jiaying Zhang. 


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