global head of finance Simon Hall is to step down a year early – triggering a wholesale shake-up of management roles in that practice area and prompting internal speculation over succession.
Freshfields’ management will now begin to take soundings from partners within the group, which will be followed by a formal nomination by senior partner Anthony Salz. One Freshfields partner said: “There’ll be lashings of consultation.”
As part of the process, the magic circle firm is instituting a new management structure within the department, including the creation of the new post of London head of finance. Whoever lands that role will work with the heads of various global practice subgroups, covering projects, banking, structured finance, asset finance and restructurings. The position of global co-head of the finance practice, occupied by Frankfurt partner Dirk Schmalenbach, will remain unchanged.
Two names are already understood to have emerged as potential successors to Hall: London finance partner Bob Charlton and Asia managing partner Perry Noble, both of whom have a background in projects and infrastructure financings. Neither was available for comment.
Confirming his decision to stand down, Hall told The Lawyer: “I was 50 this year and I’ve been 10 years in the job. I said last time round, if I was appointed I’d go earlier than my term, and I’m keen to see some new blood.”
Hall has effectively run Freshfields’ finance practice since 1994, during which time it has upped its profile considerably.
As first revealed by The Lawyer (20 October, 2003), the firm brought in consultants McKinsey & Company to identify its growth potential, particularly in banking and acquisition finance. This year Freshfields made up six partners in finance.