Lovells' highly-rated corporate finance partner Allan Murray-Jones is joining the London office of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom to spearhead a move into private equity.
Murray-Jones, who resigned from Lovells at the start of the year, will join Skadden Arps in September to launch a European assault on the buyouts market.
Until now, the firm has focused on highly complex cross-border public M&A, while Murray-Jones focuses on private equity, buyouts and leveraged buyouts, which Skadden Arps wants to strengthen.
At Lovells, Murray-Jones was client relationship partner for some of the firm's most high-profile clients, including Doughty Hanson & Co and PPM Ventures. He declines to comment on whether they will join him at Skadden Arps, but they are both known to be considering their positions (The Lawyer, 15 January).
Murray-Jones has had discussions with a raft of firms since deciding to leave Lovells, but says he decided that a US firm was the best place to move his practice.
He says: "I've done a decent number of private equity transactions that have either been financed or refinanced by a high-yield bond, and too often I've been going off to a US firm to do that. The truth of the matter is that the US firms are far better equipped to do that. Skadden Arps is a pre-eminent M&A firm and it is trying to take those sorts of skills around the world."
Skadden Arps London managing partner Bruce Buck says: "We wanted Allan as a partner not so much because he was bringing clients with him, but because he has a proven track record in being able to develop core business. We think he's very marketable to our institutional client list. We have a lot of buyout clients in the US that are looking this way, such as Apollo and Merrill Lynch, and there are clients we're not doing business for that we think we could market him to."
Murray-Jones will work closely with the high-yield debt practice and the acquisition finance practice at Skadden Arps. The London office now has 65 lawyers, with around 25 of those UK-qualified. The firm now plans to bolster the UK tax, M&A and acquisition finance practices.