Kirkland takes first Cinven role since scooping client from Ashurst 

Kirkland & Ellis’s London team has won its first corporate role acting for private equity house Cinven after winning the client from Ashurst.

Kirkland partners Gavin Gordon and David Arnold led for Cinven and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners on the £1.5bn sale of Swedish tool distributor Ahlsell to CVC Capital Partners.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted for CVC Capital Partners, fielding a team led by corporate partner Christopher Bown.

Cinven was previously an Ashurst client, with corporate partner Bruce Hanton advising it on a number of deals in the 2000s, notably its acquisition of Ahlsell in 2005 – where Gordon was an associate on the transaction.

Gordon and Arnold joined Kirkland from Ashurst in 2010 in a shock raid on the silver circle firm (1 June 2010).

Private equity associates Fatema Orjela and Natalia Prochnicka, leveraged finance partner Stephen Gillespie and associate Sam Norris, DCM partner Ward McKimm and competition partner Shaun Goodman were also on the Kirkland team on the latest deal.

This is the first M&A mandate the US firm has won from Cinven since the duo joined, but City capital markets partner McKimm led a Kirkland team earlier this month on a £304m high-yield offering for the parent company of the Numericable Group, which is controlled by Cinven.

The latest deal follows Linklaters’ success winning Cinven as a fund formation client from Ashurst (25 October 2011).

Freshfields, meanwhile, has a long history advising CVC, for instance on its acquisition of a stake in Virgin Active last year, where partners Chris Bown and Tim Wilmot led for the private equity group.

However, Freshfields financial institutions partner Robert Stirling advised Phoenix Group Holdings, another longstanding client, on its shelved takeover of CVC last year, with the potential target turning to Allen & OVery (28 November 2011).

Hanton declined to comment.