A&O finance ace joins Simpson Thacher after clashes with management

Allen & Overy‘s (A&O) heavy-hitting leverage finance partner Tony Keal is moving to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett following a series of clashes with the magic circle firm’s senior management.

Keal resigned on 14 September after negotiating his exit with A&O’s senior management for several months. According to well-placed sources, he will be leaving A&O on 7 October after more than 30 years with the firm.

Keal has clashed with A&O’s senior management over a number of issues, including the differing contributions to the bottom line made by the firm’s corporate and banking practices and on assistant pay.

One source said: “[Keal] is clearly a man of strong views and over the years he’s made them known to management.”

Widely viewed as one of the best leveraged finance lawyers in Europe, Keal acts for key Simpson Thacher client Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) in all of its UK debt financings. The move is therefore a natural fit for the New York firm’s debt practice.

Commenting on Keal’s appointment, one Simpson Thacher source said: “We’re hopeful that KKR will come over with Tony.”

Keal is the third UK-qualified partner in Simpson Thacher’s London acquisition finance team, joining Euan Gorrie, another ex-A&O partner, and ex-Ashurst partner Stephen Short.

An A&O spokesperson said: “Tony’s been with the firm for over 30 years and has made a major contribution. We wish him every success.”