Freshfields private equity heavyweight Bown leaves for CVC

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Chris Bown is leaving the magic circle firm to join private equity house CVC, a key client of the firm’s corporate group. 

Bown, who will retire from the firm at the end of the financial year, will join CVC as a senior adviser on 1 May in a part-time role working with the deal teams and with CVC’s existing legal function.

CVC’s legal team is headed by managing director Richard Perris, who joined the private equity house in 2005 from Clifford Chance

Bown told The Lawyer: “I’ve had a really rewarding experience at Freshfields both personally and professionally, and I’m proud that I’ve contributed to the creation of a private equity group that’s now leading the field – it’s got an enviable client base and a long bench of top quality lawyers.

“It’s the right time for me to take on a new challenge and I can’t think of a better one than to be joining one of the most respected and successful players in the private equity industry.”

Bown is the third Freshfields heavyweight to leave the firm for a client role in a matter of months.

In October the firm announced that its CEO Ted Burke was leaving to join US private equity fund Arclight Capital Partners as general counsel and COO (30 September 2013). Two weeks later The Lawyer revealed that former corporate head and London managing partner Tim Jones was ending his long career at the firm to join England Rugby 2015 as general counsel (18 October).

CVC had traditionally been a strong Clifford Chance client but in recent years has opted to use Freshfields as first choice deal counsel on numerous occasions (City Analysis, 22 April).

Bown, who joined Freshfields from Baker & McKenzie in 1998, has been the lead relationship partner for CVC over the last five years. He advised the private equity house on its acquisition of Starbev in 2009 and acquisition of an interest in Merlin Entertainments Group in 2010; a controlling stake in Virgin Active in 2011. He also advised CVC on the sale of Starbev to Molson Coors in 2012 and the sale of Formula One shares worth $1.6bn in 2012.

For exclusive detail on the in-house legal functions in 30 top private equity houses, purchase The Lawyer’s Private Equity Report.