Clayton Utz hires Freshfields partner following A&O raid

Clayton Utz has continued its rebuilding process following the departure of 14 partners to form Allen & Overy’s nascent Australian practice with the recruitment of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer project finance partner Bruce Cooper.

Cooper will join Clayton Utz’s Sydney banking practice as a partner in September. The news follows April’s hire of Allens Arthur Robinson securitisation chief Andrew Jinks, who will join the Sydney office in August.

Cooper has been a partner at the magic circle firm for 12 years, having joined its Singapore office in 1993. He relocated to Hong Kong in 2007 from where he led the firm’s regional finance group.

Clayton Utz chief executive partner David Fagan said: “Recruiting Bruce to our national banking and financial services team was a unique opportunity.

“Project finance is an area where we anticipate strong growth opportunities flowing from the federal government’s ongoing commitment to significant investment in infrastructure projects and the continuing energy and resources boom driven by demand from China and India.

“Bruce’s significant project finance experience – particularly his many years’ experience in Asia advising on major energy and resources project financing transactions – will be particularly attractive to Australian sponsors and financiers.”

Commenting on Cooper’s departure, a Freshfields spokesperson said: “Bruce has played many important roles for the firm over the years and we wish him the very best for the future.”

The Australian’s firm Sydney banking team was hit by A&O’s February raid (8 February 2010), with four of the 14 partners coming from the practice, joining former banking partner Grant Fuzi who left the firm last December.

A&O further built its Sydney offering last week with the hire of Mallesons Stephen Jacques competition partner Dave Poddar (22 June 2010).

Cooper’s move marks the second by a magic circle partner to a leading Australian firm this week after Clifford Chance asset finance partner Rod Howell joined Allens Arthur Robinson in Singapore (30 June 2010).