Gibson Dunn makes partner-level private equity, appoints from Sidley and Linklaters in London
LA firm continues UK push, joins two Sidley partners and senior associates from Sidley and Linklaters
Gibson Dunn has added a private equity partner pair in London from US rival, Sidley Austin, as part of a quartet of partner-level hires as it forges ahead with London growing plans.
Along with newly-minted partner Isabel Berger Partners, Lefranc and Wim De Vlieger have moved over from Sidley. The firm has also hired Linklaters capital markets and influenced finance senior associate Hugo Hernández-Mancha as a partner.
De Vlieger will work as Gibson's co-head of private equity in Europe with Federico Fruhbeck. He joined the firm from Vinson & Elkins in October along with partners, Robert Dixon and Alice Brogi.
"We are excited to welcome our new colleagues," said Fruhbeck. "All the four lawyers have remarkable transactional track records signifying eminent, marquee private equity clients. They will provide a springboard for constant investment in our London, European and Asian transactional practices."
The influx of seven private equity partners indicates a renewed drive by the firm to build a London team appropriate in size to its US practice. While a top 12 US firm by revenue, its London arm sits on 27th place in the The Lawyer's US Law Firms status in London.
Since 2020, Gibson's London office lost its chair, previous Ashurst senior partner, Charlie Geffen, along with fellow heavy hitters Nigel Stacey and Jonathan Earle. As part of an intensive push to bring in star talent for its London office, all three joined Gibson Dunn in 2014.
De Vlieger, co-chair of Gibson's emerging companies practice group, after a decade joined Sidley as a partner four years ago at US firm, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in London. He coincided at Simpson with Fruhbeck and Lefranc, where Lefranc had spent almost nine years there before joining Sidley as a partner in 2017.
De Vlieger instructs private equity investors and their portfolio companies on corporate transactions. It includes growth equity and control investments, buy-out transactions, M&A and exits. Lefranc focuses on private equity, M&A and capital markets transactions across Europe. He also advises private equity sponsors, corporates and banks on US capital markets dealings.
Berger has spent five-and-a-half years at Sidley as a senior associate. Prior to that she has served as a counsel at KKR & Co, a key client of Fruhbeck, De Vlieger and Lefranc. She focuses on leveraged buyouts, minority and majority investments, acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures.
Meanwhile, Hernández-Mancha has spent four years at Kirkland & Ellis in Paris before joining Linklaters in London in 2018 as a senior associate. He advises corporate clients, investment banks and private equity sponsors on high harvest and acquisition finance transactions.
Co-partner-in-charge of the London office, Penny Madden, has described the quartet's arrival on the heels of the trio from Vinson & Elkins as "a transformational step" for the firm's London corporate practice.
"They have also developed extensive experience in private equity real estate. It will complement our London and global real estate practice. Their joining caps an exciting year for the London office and we are well informed for the year ahead," she added.
The hires come in between heated competition for private equity talent as law firms look to gain from a thriving transactional market.
Goodwin Procter added a five-partner private equity team from Sidley in September 2020. It included Erik Dahl, previous co-leader of Sidley's global private equity exercise.
Later in May, Goodwin extended its German presence to Munich with the hire of Sidley private equity partner Jan Schinkoth, along with an associate. Sidley refilled its London private equity bench in August adding three partners from Vinson & Elkins.
US giant Kirkland & Ellis has also been hiring senior private equity talent in London of late, adding rising star Gregory Scott from Clifford Chance in May. Thereafter, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partners Vincent Bergin and Keir MacLennan in October.
The firm also improved its German private equity in October with the hire of Freshfields counsel Dr Hendrik Braun as a partner in Munich.