Simpson Thacher secures Blackstone's European GC in latest London partner hire

Private equity specialist Geoffrey Bailhache adds to firm's ongoing European expansion

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has hired Blackstone's European general counsel, Geoffrey Bailhache, as a partner as the Wall Street firm continues to expand its European presence.

In what remains a relatively unusual move, Bailhache is returning to private practice after a long stint as an in-house lawyer. The hire is made even more eye-catching by the fact he was an associate when he moved in house.

Bailhache spent just over a decade at Blackstone, having previously been an associate at both Weil Gotshal & Manges and before that SJ Berwin in London, specialising in cross-border private equity transactions and other corporate matters. At Blackstone, he provided transactional and related advice for its private equity and tactical opportunities groups in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Bill Dougherty, chairman of Simpson Thacher’s executive committee, said: “We have had the great fortune of working with Geoff for many years and the depth and breadth of his experience will be a perfect fit for our preeminent global transactional platform. Geoff is well-known for his deep M&A experience – spanning both geographies and industries – and we are very pleased to welcome him to the firm.”

Jason Glover, Simpson Thacher’s London office managing partner, said that Bailhache’s experience advising on an impressive roster of deals across private equity, energy, infrastructure and growth equity would complement the firm’s capabilities in London.

Ben Spiers, the firm’s London M&A head, added: “Geoff is a talented advisor and he has an excellent reputation in the market for working on the types of complex, high-stakes transactions for which Simpson Thacher is renowned.

Bailhache’s arrival is the latest in a recent hiring spree for the firm’s London office. Last month, it hired a pair of insolvency partners to help establish a European restructuring practice in London as the firm prepares for a potential rise in distressed situations as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic dents companies’ finances. Adam Gallagher joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and James Watson joined from Kirkland & Ellis.

In December, the firm hired Allen & Overy’s former global antitrust co-head Antonio Bavasso in London, who will also head up the firm’s new Brussels office when it opens in the summer. His arrival followed a number of other high-profile recruits in London, including financial regulation specialist Owen Lysak from Clifford Chance, private equity partner James Howe from Gibson Dunn and Linklaters’ former head of tax Yash Rupal.

Other recent high-profile London private equity moves have saw Latham & Watkins hire Travers Smith’s co-head of corporate, Paul Dolman, in December and while in September a five-partner team of private equity specialists joined Goodwin Procter from Sidley Austin.

Simpson Thacher was second only to Kirkland & Ellis in Mergermarket's global private equity league table by value in 2020, advising on 49 deals valued at $66.8bn.

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