Freshfields loses chief to World Bank

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has lost the head of the firm’s project finance group in Asia to the World Bank. At the same time, Kirkland & Ellis has raided the bank for its new restructuring partner.

Hong Kong-based Freshfields partner Peter Cleary is leaving the firm to join the World Bank in the US as a director and general counsel of the multilateral investment guarantee agency. He will be one of the bank’s four general counsel.

At the same time, Chicago-based Kirkland has bolstered its New York restructuring practice with the hire of Gordon Johnson, the chief legal adviser on insolvency and credit rights issues at the World Bank.

Johnson has been advising the World Bank for seven years. He was previously a partner in the business finance and restructuring practice of Weil Gotshal & Manges‘ London and Houston offices.

Cleary has been a partner with Freshfields since 1997. His resignation follows the completion of a major restructuring of Freshfields’ Asian practice, which saw the closure of the firm’s Bangkok office and the departure of 10 partners. The review also resulted in Freshfields moving away from project finance work in the region.

His experience includes advising export credit agencies in connection with the $4.3bn (£2.45bn) Shell/CNOOC Nanhai Petrochemical project. He also acted on the financing of the $377m (£214.6m) North Luzon Expressway project in the Philippines.