Slaughter and May names new heads of corporate and M&A

UK Magic Circle firm appoints successors to Andy Ryde and senior partner-elect Roland Turnill

Richard Smith (l) and Simon Nicholls Images courtesy of Slaughter and May

UK Magic Circle firm Slaughter and May has elected the next heads of its core corporate and M&A practice.

Simon Nicholls and Richard Smith will begin their new roles on 1 May and succeed head of corporate Andy Ryde and head of M&A Roland Turnill, with it emerging last September that the latter had been elected to succeed Steve Cooke as the firm’s next senior partner in May 2024.  

Cooke said Nicholls’ and Smith’s “energy, reputation and dedication to client relationships” would make them “formidable leaders of our corporate and M&A practice.”

He added: “I would also like to thank Andy Ryde and Roland Turnill for their exceptional leadership and service to the firm and our clients over the last eight and six years respectively.”

Nicholls is a Slaughters veteran of more than 25 years and has been a partner at the firm since 2005, with a practice focused on corporate advice, public and private M&A and equity financings. He counts a number of listed companies including Babcock, Diageo and GlaxoSmithKline among his clients and following the onset of the pandemic advised British hotel and restaurant company Whitbread on its £1bn rights issue.  

Smith, meanwhile, has a broad corporate and corporate finance practice with particular focus on public and private M&A, joint ventures and equity capital markets work. He joined Slaughters in 2001 at the start of his legal career, made partner in 2010 and has clients including Aviva, United Utilities and The Walt Disney Company, which he advised in relation to its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

Nicholls commented: “It will be a great privilege to lead the firm’s corporate and M&A practice alongside Richard. The depth of experience within our practice – and the talented lawyers at all levels in the team – allow us to deliver exceptional support and advice to clients across a broad spectrum of transactions and situations. That is a great platform and we will be focused on developing and enhancing it.”

Smith added the practice has “an incredible team with long-term client relationships around the world. I look forward to supporting everyone in our team and working closely with Simon to build on the great job that Andy and Roland have done. “

Their appointments follow the news last June that Slaughters was shaking up its executive function to shift toward a more contemporary model, creating a managing partner and chief operating officer role ahead of the planned retirement of practice partners David Wittmann and executive partner Paul Stacey in April 2022, after which their roles would be axed.

The firm announced last September that it had elected litigation partner Deborah Finkler to the managing partner role and in December added Jill Hoseason from rival Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to be COO. Hoseason began at the start of this month, while Finkler will take up the role in May.


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