Herbert Smith overhauls financial team with two new roles

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has overhauled its financial team with the introduction of two new roles, global chief financial officer (CFO) and financial director for UK, EMEA and Asia. 

Kirkland & Ellis financial chief Nicholas Willmott will take up the role of global CFO in September while BDO financial director Paul Roberts joins the firm as finance chief for UK, EMEA and Asia starting this month. Both join the London office.

A spokesperson confirmed that both roles were new for the merged firm, which decided to introduce the positions as part of a “natural follow on” from the October merger between Herbert Smith and Australia’s Freehills (28 June 2012). There are not expected to be any redundancies impacting other financial heads, either from Freehills or legacy Herbert Smith, as a result of the move.

Willmott will be heading up the global business finance function at HSF, helping integrate the business finance at the merged firm. He has been the CFO of Kirkland since 2004 and has previously held senior finance positions at Pepsi and Jones Lang LaSalle, joining the latter several months after its merger between LaSalle Partners and Jones Lang Wootton. 

In a statement joint CEO David Willis said Willmott will play a “critical role” in the firm’s on-going integration work.  

There have been various changes at HSF in recent months. In May The Lawyer broke the news that legacy Herbert Smith had issued a cash call of up to £20m to all equity partners (13 May 2013), an effort to boost its capital structure as part of the firm’s planned financial integration with Australia’s Freehills.  

There have also been various partner exits since the merger was announced. These have included that of London corporate fraud and asset tracing head Simon Bushell, who quit for US firm Latham & Watkins earlier this year (7 February 2013), Moscow partner Dmitry Kurochkin, the firm’s head of disputes for Continental Europe, the Middle East and Africa, who joined Dechert in November (21 June 2012), and Kevin Lloyd, who quit for Debevoise & Plimpton (5 December 2012).

Other exits have included Tokyo head Steve Lewis, who went to Bingham (29 June 2012), City corporate partner Will Pearce, who resigned for Davis Polk & Wardwell (12 November 2012), and finance partner Jason Fox, who left for Bracewell & Giuliani (5 March 2013).

For an analysis on partner exits at HSF, see feature