UK firms’ funds work slips away

US firms in London grab lucrative contracts from silver circle

The past 12 months have seen US firms plough into the funds sector in London with expansion and launches, but the impact of the seismic shift in the market from the silver circle to US rivals is only just starting to become clear.

On the mid-cap side, Proskauer Rose managed to snatch at least two key clients – HgCapital and Adams Street Partners – from SJ Berwin, after partners Nigel van Zyl and Oliver Rochman joined the US firm.

Further up the private equity echelons, Clifford Chance managed to hold on to much of its relationship with Apax Partners, which it had been advising on its £7.6bn Apax VIII fundraising, with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett also winning a role on the deal after four Clifford Chance partners quit for Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Weil fared slightly better with BC Partners’ BC European Capital IX, which former Clifford Chance funds partner Nick Benson – now at the US firm – originally won while at the magic circle firm. Benson led the Weil team on last week’s final closing, with Simpson Thacher again winning a role.

Weil confirmed that Clifford Chance was involved too, but it is understood that it only fielded New York lawyers, with London-based funds head Nigel Hatfield not involved. In fact, Benson worked on the deal at Clifford Chance while serving his notice and transferred it the day he moved.

But all we get from Weil in a statement is that the team was “assisted by lawyers from Clifford Chance and Simpson Thacher”.

Now who might have written that line?