Lathams boosts London M&A with partner move

US firm Latham & Watkins is flying in a highly-rated M&A partner to London to cover a dip in capital markets work.

After the relocation of corporate finance partners Philip Coviello, former managing partner of the New York office, and Bryant Edwards, who was head of corporate in Los Angeles, M&A partner Richard Trobman is now being drafted in from New York. Trobman also specialises in recapitalisations and public and private securities offerings.

Edwards says: “We’re very excited about having Richard here. He’s going to help us strengthen the M&A practice by bringing in some kind of US public companies focus. Most of the practice is UK-focused at the moment.

“The M&A group is the busiest group in the firm right now because capital markets has slowed down a little both in high yield and equity. The whole firm is helping out the M&A team at the moment.”

The London M&A practice is headed by dual-qualified partner Michael Bond and UK-qualified Nigel Campion-Smith. Trobman will be the third partner in the practice.

His client following includes leveraged buy-out companies such as Odyssey Investment Partners and BC Partners, and investment banks such as Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, which is now merged with Credit Suisse First Boston.

The practice’s deals have recently included acting for BC Partners on its acquisition of Mark IV Industries and related financing, representation of Phone.com on its acquisition of Apion Technologies and of Paragon Software, and the representation of Galen Holdings on its acquisition of Warner Chilcott and its Nasdaq listing.

Edwards says: “We represent a lot of US investors in Europe and the US private equity firms which are doing leveraged acquisitions in Europe. The dollar is still strong against the pound, which makes it attractive for Americans to come over.”

The firm will now begin recruiting into M&A. Edwards says: “We’re looking for both partner lateral candidates and m

ore general lawyers at the moment.”

The office has so far had a strong focus on finance, particularly on high-yield work. In August the firm hired James Chesterman, the head of banking from the London office of Weil Gotshal & Manges, to put in place an investment banking one-stop shop. Chesterman adds acquisition finance capability to the firm’s already strong high-yield presence (The Lawyer, 14 August).

He joined Kevin Dunn, former European general counsel at GE Capital who joined a week before Chesterman’s arrived. Since then, the firm has recruited Oonagh Whitty, a highly rated tax partner from Watson Farley & Williams.