Katten London snares Sidley duo for new practice launch

The London affiliate office of US firm Katten Muchin Rosenman has launched a real estate finance practice with the hire of two lawyers from Sidley Austin.

English law-qualified lawyers Jayne Black and Eleanor Hunwicks joined the London office on 2 May. Black, who joined as a partner, is hoping to capitalise on advising the servicers of conduit loans in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) deals.

Property finance is a significant part of Katten’s practice in the US, with key clients including Capmark (formerly GMAC Commercial Mortgage) and Hatfield Philips. However, the practice has not featured in its London arm up until now.

Black said Sidley’s general securitisation practice meant she had been unable to focus specifically on this niche area, but that Katten had effectively offered her a “greenfield operation” in that respect.

The US firm’s London office was launched last June with the acquisition of funds boutique MW Cornish. The move marked Katten’s first attempt at opening an international office.

London head Martin Cornish said the firm was looking to follow the office’s diversification into real estate finance with hires in other areas, including corporate and tax.

He added that there was “no agenda” for further international expansion, but he did not rule out the possibility of Katten seeking a licence to practise in the Far East.

Katten Muchin Rosenman Cornish is a standalone limited-liability partnership, but is fully financially integrated into the US firm.