Apax ‘key-man clause’ adds new twist as top Travers Smith rainmaker resigns

Apax’s panel review has taken another turn, with the private equity house set to introduce a ‘key-man clause’ agreement with its new panel firms.

The news comes as Mark Soundy, Travers Smith Braithwaite’s key relationship partner for Apax, has announced his decision to leave the partnership after 17 years for a career break. He will depart on 1 June.

Soundy has worked with Apax on a number of deals and it is understood that he was one of the Travers team that pitched for its leveraged transaction panel for deals worth more than €100m (£67.1m).

Sources say that Apax is considering bringing in a “key-man clause” for the two firms chosen to be its primary and secondary legal advisers.

The clause means that one partner would be the chief representative for Apax and, if there was a change to that person, sources say the private equity house could potentially ask the firm to repitch.

Stephen Green, head of the financial services group and a director in the leverage transaction group at Apax, declined to comment on contractual arrangements with suppliers. He said that Apax was aware of Soundy’s departure and had already met with Travers. “We discussed it as a client and a firm, and we’ve discussed the implications of that. We’ve made no decision on the panel,” he said.
Chris Hale, head of corporate and private equity at Travers, said a decision was being made about who would be the key relationship partner and that the firm would meet with Apax again. He added that Apax had strong links with a number of partners across the firm.

Other contenders include Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.