Weil builds up Paris banking team with leveraged finance partner duo from Allen & Overy

Géraldine Lezmi and Jean-Christophe David join shortly after US firm added high yield partners in London from Freshfields and White & Case

Weil Gotshal & Manges has added a pair of banking partners in Paris from UK rival Allen & Overy (A&O), following on from three partner hires in London last month from leading rivals.

The New York-based firm said Géraldine Lezmi and Jean-Christophe David would add extensive leveraged finance experience to its Paris banking team, which it described as an integral part of its client offering and key to its sponsor and corporate relationships, as well as its restructuring practice. 

The duo’s hire comes just a few weeks Weil added high yield partner duo Andy Hagan and Gilles Teerlinck to its London banking practice from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and White & Case respectively. The same week M&A specialist Sarah Flaherty joined the corporate team in London from Linklaters. 

Lezmi and David advise parties including borrowers, sponsors, investors and credit funds on complex domestic and cross-border leveraged finance transactions. 

Lezmi has joined Weil after 11 years at A&O. where she worked with clients including e-commerce platform Vestiaire Collective and Paris private equity firm Weinberg Capital Partners. She made partner at the firm last May and earlier was a legal intern at Shearman & Sterling. 

Meantime David has rejoined Weil after 12 years at A&O, where he made partner in 2016. Along with his leveraged finance practice he advises clients on general banking matters and has been involved in restructuring transactions. Recently he worked alongside London-based partner Nicholas Clark, co-head of A&O’s global leveraged finance group, to advise the initial purchasers in connection with Verisure’s €450m high yield bond issuance. 

Commenting on the hires, Weil executive partner Barry Wolf said: “Géraldine and Jean-Christophe are two outstanding banking lawyers, and we are delighted that they are joining us in Paris.  Together with our internal promotions and the recent hire of our high yield partners Andy Hagan and Gilles Teerlinck in London, Géraldine and Jean-Christophe will be helping to lead our top-of-market European banking team.”

The duo’s arrival represents a significant boost to Weil’s banking team in Paris, which currently houses eight lawyers including practice head Olivier Jauffret, who specialises in acquisition and refinancing transactions, and partner James Clarke, who focuses on mid and large-cap LBO financings. 

The Paris banking team team's clients Montagu Private Equity, Hayfin and Terreal. According to The Legal 500, the practice’s relationships with private equity funds and opportunity funds means it is ‘typically sought after to advise on LBO financing, including transactions involving term loan B and unitranche facilities and senior secured notes issuances’. 

Weil’s Paris managing partner, Emmanuelle Henry, said: “As we continue to build our Paris banking practice, we are pleased to welcome Géraldine and Jean-Christophe as recognised, next-generation partners. They will be a critical part of our global banking team, working alongside James Clarke and Olivier Jauffret to provide counsel to our clients on their most significant and complex matters. They are also a vital part of the succession planning for this group, given Olivier’s planned retirement at the end of this year.”

Following the duo’s departure A&O’s Paris banking team will house 28 lawyers including six partners. It recently boosted its own leveraged finance bench in London with the hire of high yield specialist Marwa Elborai, who moved over after more than 15 years at Shearman & Sterling. 

An A&O spokesperson commented: “Jean-Christophe David and Geraldine Lezmi have decided to leave Allen & Overy. We would like to thank them for their contribution during their time at Allen & Overy and wish them all the best for the future."

Meanwhile, the UK Magic Circle firm has today bolstered its Asia-Pacific Litigation practice with the hire of Melody Chan from White & Case, where she led the Greater China Dispute Resolution practice. Her practice focuses on multi-jurisdictional commercial litigation, debt enforcement and insolvency work, and international arbitration.

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