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Lovells' private equity practice has fought back against the loss of its star performer to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom with the hire of Derek Baird from Dickson Minto.
Baird has spent his entire legal career with corporate boutique Dickson Minto. He has specialised for more than 10 years in corporate finance and private equity work, and has been involved in a range of domestic and cross-border institutional buyout transactions. HG Capital is among the clients Baird shares with Lovells. The hire is part of a drive to expand Lovells' European private equity practice. The team lost highly-rated corporate finance partner Allan Murray-Jones to Skadden Arps earlier this year. The number of private equity partners in the City is small so Baird's recruitment is something of a coup. Lovells partner Marco Compagnoni said: "Our international growth makes this right time to hire. The domestic market is pretty much saturated. Those getting good work are those who can operate internationally. European centres are behind in terms of know-how. It is therefore very easy to go and do private equity around Europe." Lovells has 18 partners specialising in private equity across its European offices. Clients include 3i, Cinven, Doughty Hanson, Advent International and PPM Ventures. Compagnoni said: "If Derek had come with no clients at all it wouldn't particularly have made a difference." In London, Compagnoni, Alison Hampton and John Davidson focus on the equity work, while Catherine Allinson, Matthew Cottis and Kay Booth specialise in debt. Baird said: "What is attractive to me is not just having an international network. I got the sense that what Lovells is putting together is a unique network in the private equity market. It has put together experts locally and also exported from London." But a source at another firm said: "Dickson Minto has always done international deals. The only question is probably about the local firms in some of the jurisdictions, which are disappearing because of mergers. The only huge blow to Dickson Minto would be if they lost Alistair Dickson or Michael Barron." Dickson Minto senior partner Alistair Dickson said: "Derek is a very able lawyer and I'm sorry to see him go." A start date for Baird has yet to be agreed.