Fried Frank set to exit UK real estate as associates walk

US firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson is quitting real estate in the UK after a fallout between the London group head and New York management over strategy.

US firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson is quitting real estate in the UK after a fallout between the London group head and New York management over strategy.

London practice head Nigel Heilpern is still at the firm but is understood to be reviewing his options after disagreements with the firm’s New York management about the strategic direction of the practice. Sources close to firm claim that central management wanted a magic circle-like practice while those in London considered that an impossible task.

The rest of the London real estate team, meanwhile, has already left the firm. Associate Leo Wilson has joined King & Spalding’s London office, while senior associate and real estate finance expert Ranjeev Kumar has joined Katten Muchin Rosenman as a partner. Senior real estate specialist Stephen John has also agreed to join Katten Muchin, though it is not clear in what position.

Fried Frank’s real estate team is understood to have made between £3m and £5m a year for the New York firm and has acted for clients like Brookefield and Tishman Speyer. Fried Frank launched its London real estate practice in 2005, when it hired Heilpern from Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, John from Weil Gotshal & Manges, and two associates from Nabarro.

Katten Muchin’s London managing partner Peter Sugden confirmed the two new hires. King & Spalding did not respond to a request for comment, while Fried Frank declined to comment.