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Akin Gump, the US bankruptcy specialist believed to have the largest number of bondholder clients in the US, has mounted an aggressive push into the European restructuring market
The firm has just transferred worldwide head of financial restructuring Rey Stroube to London, hired Herbert Smith senior insolvency lawyer Janet Bellwood as its first ever European insolvency partner, and is now looking to build a large team of assistants to work with them. Akin Gump, which is currently acting for bondholders which hold more than $30bn (£18.7bn) of Worldcom debt, counts high-yield bond work as 80 per cent of its US restructuring practice. Stroube has been moved over to build up a similar practice in Europe, which sees Akin Gump move into direct competition with the City-based practices of US firms Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft and Bingham McCutchen. "We talked to a lot of the people in this market in Europe and realised there was plenty of room for another player," Akin Gump London managing partner Fred Heller told The Lawyer. Bellwood, who for most of her career has worked with Herbert Smith insolvency partner Stephen Gale, will build a traditional UK insolvency practice at Akin Gump, but is also expected to move into high-yield bond work.