Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is going all out for US registered securities offerings by hiring a Goldman Sachs regional head.
Ken Martin, regional head of the bank's special execution group in Europe, will join Freshfields' US securities group at the beginning of September. His recent deals include the Telenor ASA initial public offering and the share offerings for Pearson, Royal KPN and Koninklijke Ahold. Martin, who had previously worked with Freshfields US securities head Tom Joyce at Shearman & Sterling, said that he wanted to move back to private practice so that he could have a more concentrated involvement in individual transactions. Goldman Sachs is already one of Freshfields' top securities clients, and Martin's move is expected to strengthen the link. Aside from Goldman Sachs, Freshfields' biggest investment banking clients are UBS Warburg, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have not used Freshfields on registered deals, but tend to use the firm for Rule 144a offerings (on the New York Stock Exchange) or recommend that it advises the issuer. US securities partner Don Guiney said: "It'll take time for us to start advising them regularly on registered deals." Historically, Goldman Sachs' preferred outside counsel is Sullivan & Cromwell and it has been difficult for other firms to break in, although the bank now uses Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters & Alliance and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom on a regular basis. Martin said: "The tradition has been that the registered work tends to go to the US firms because US practices in UK firms are relatively new. Banks want to be confident that the US practices in UK firms are developed enough to deal with the complexities. But I think this is becoming less of an issue for some banks." The Lawyer revealed that Freshfields was talking to New York firm Debevoise & Plimpton about a plan to work together on US securities in Europe (The Lawyer, 18 December 2000). Talks have since fallen through but it is no secret that the group wants to grow. Martin's arrival will increase the number of US securities partners in Europe to six.