Fried Frank makes two London partner hires

Fried Frank has raided Ashurst and Simmons & Simmons for two high-profile partner laterals. The US firm has poached securitisation star Siân Withey from one-time merger prospect Ashurst and corporate energy rainmaker Jerry Walter from Simmons.

In an unusual move, Withey, who is regarded as one of Ashurst’s rising stars, has joined to handle capital markets rather than securitisation. Senior associate David Sheldon, a private equity and M&A lawyer, has moved with her, as have a further four Ashurst associates. Sheldon joins Fried Frank as a partner.

Withey’s departure will be a blow to Ashurst, which has been a happy hunting ground for US rivals in recent weeks. The firm has lost head of property and former managing partner Ian Nisse to Shearman & Sterling, head of financial institutions Jeremy Hill to Debevoise & Plimpton and Paris star Thomas Forschbach to Latham & Watkins.

Although Walter is head of Simmons’ energy group, he is also a mainstream M&A lawyer of some pedigree. At 56, he is nearing the retirement age for UK lawyers, but his age will not be unusual at a US firm.

Simmons is still in the middle of a de-equitisation programme and also lost accelerated IPO star Steve Bryan to Lovells last month.