New York firm Shearman & Sterling will vote this week to appoint M&A lawyer David Heleniak as its new senior partner.
Present incumbent Stephen Volk has been in the role for 10 years, and under the firm’s partnership deed is allowed to serve only two five-year terms.
Heleniak, whose clients include Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Citicorp, is believed to be the only partner standing for election to the post. He was head of the firm’s M&A practice from 1987 through to 1995, and ran the Hong Kong office from 1981 to 1984.
He has also been heavily involved in the development of the firm’s international presence, and partners at the firm say he is committed to building that up when he takes on his senior role.
One source says: “Heleniak has always been identified as a likely successor to Volk. He is much more internationally-minded than even Volk himself; and Volk, to be fair to him, was really the guy with the vision.”
The firm is also taking on a leading M&A partner in New York from rival firm Weil Gotshal & Manges. Stephen Besen handles both public and private M&A, joint ventures, strategic alliances, capital markets and securities, private equity and merchant banking.
His biggest deals include representing MediaOne Group on its $57bn (£39.8bn) merger with AT&T, US West on its $10bn (£6.9bn) acquisition of Continental Cablevision and JC Penny on its $3bn (£2bn) public tender and merger with Eckerd.
Shearmans’ M&A group has acted on some of the biggest mergers in recent history, including Daimler/Chrysler, Smithkline Beecham/Glaxo Wellcome, Viacom/CBS and General Electric/Honeywell.