BLP’s McKeeve set to flex firm’s real estate muscle

Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) new private equity chief Raymond McKeeve is planning to use the firm’s real estate expertise to carve out a niche in the market.
McKeeve returned to ­private practice last week after a year-long spell with client Robert Tchenguiz at his R20 investment vehicle.

Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) new private equity chief Raymond McKeeve is planning to use the firm’s real estate expertise to carve out a niche in the market.

McKeeve returned to ­private practice last week after a year-long spell with client Robert Tchenguiz at his R20 investment vehicle.

Speaking to The Lawyer about his plans for the firm’s private equity group, he said: “Restructurings, including recapitalisations of existing portfolio companies by new sponsors, are likely to be key areas for the next year or so.

“We think that deals involving businesses with quality real estate assets on their balance sheets will be the first to emerge from the current deal slump.”

BLP has long coveted a star private equity hire and the arrival of McKeeve is a significant coup for its growing corporate practice. As well as close links with R20, he has worked for Montagu Private Equity, Apax Partners, Permira, The Blackstone Group and Graphite Capital Management.

McKeeve said the firm’s tax and real estate expertise in particular would provide a base on which to expand the private equity group. He starts work in June.

Also returning to private practice is Allen & Overy (A&O) corporate partner Pervez Akhtar, who returns after defecting to Dubai ­private equity house Abraaj Capital last year.

Akhtar, the former head of corporate for A&O in Dubai, returns to private practice after six months as an executive director at Abraaj. He will work on client development in the region.

Both Akhtar and McKeeve were transactional lawyers hired by clients to work on acquisitions work that subsequently dried up when the economic crisis worsened at the end of
last year.