A&O set to ramp up in private equity

Allen & Overy (A&O) has moved to address its lack of a sponsor finance practice by launching a push into the private equity arena.

Banking partner Robin Harvey and private equity partner Derek Baird are drawing up plans to boost the magic circle firm’s sponsor offering in the wake of the departure of Tony Keal and client Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co to Simpson Thacher last autumn.

Harvey said: “I speak to our private equity guys across Europe and it’s regarded internally as being a pan-European practice. We have a number of common contacts.”

A&O has lagged behind competitors such as Ashurst, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in developing a sponsor-facing finance practice.

Harvey said: “The intention is to deepen relationships with good players rather than pitch to every sponsor in town.”

Harvey is PAI Partners’ sponsor finance lawyer of choice. A&O has handled some Italian work for the private equity house, but its work in France has been split between Weil Gotshal & Manges and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Baird was hired from Lovells in January this year. Prior to that he was at Dickson Minto, where he developed good relationships with Charterhouse and BC Partners.