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Nabarro Nathanson is set to lose one of its best-known property finance partners to Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker as the US firm ramps up its London real estate practice.
Nigel Heilpern is still negotiating his leaving date with Nabarros, where he has spent his entire 15-year career. His clients include joint ventures comprising overseas investors, retailers, traditional UK property companies and banks. His recent deals include the high-profile property outsourcing for the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise, known as Steps, which went live on 2 April this year. Heilpern co-led the Nabarros team advising Mapeley, which won the bid to run the property portfolio. At Paul Hastings he will join partner Mark Eagan, who relocated from New York in January this year to head up the UK property finance practice. He will also work with former colleague Bonny Hedderly, who left Nabarros to become a senior property associate at Paul Hastings in March. The US firm's expansion in the UK is in line with its focus on real estate in the US. Last year it merged with 120 lawyers from New York real estate firm Battle Fowler. Chairman of Paul Hastings Seth Zachary said: "Nigel's superb credentials, background and experience enhance our London presence and our ability to compete at the highest levels in the market. "This is an important step in the continued national and global expansion of our real estate finance practice." Heilpern is the latest in a string of defections from Nabarros' property group to US firms over the last two years. Partner Alan Sampson joined Gibson Dunn & Crutcher; Reading-based property partner Andrew Bond joined Altheimer & Gray; property lawyer Donna Stringer went to Weil Gotshal & Manges; and partner Mark Kingston left to become European general counsel at US property giant Tishman Speyer. "We're getting used to it," said Nabarros managing partner Simon Johnston. "It's a product of the marketplace. Each partner has to make a decision as to where they see the challenges. It's disappointing when we've worked with partners for a long time, but we've got such breadth and depth in property that losing people isn't catastrophic." Heilpern said: "My principal motivation for joining Paul Hastings in London is the opportunity to represent the highest level of US clients in their UK and European real estate investment programmes, with the benefit of my long experience in the UK real estate market."