Kirkland, which acts for private equity houses such as Madison Dearborn in the US, is understood to have been searching for key laterals for some time to expand its European private equity practice. Although it has made UK hires in restructuring and litigation, this is its first major UK team acquisition in its other core area of private equity.
The move will bring to an end months of market speculation surrounding White and McKeeve. They have been at Linklaters since 2001 when they moved from SJ Berwin. Prior to that they were at Dickson Minto.
White has acted for CVC Capital Partners, Apax Partners, JPMorgan and TDR Capital, while McKeeve has acted for Montagu Private Equity and Permira.
The resignations have hit Linklaters’ private equity standing hard as US firms such as Weil Gotshal & Manges aggressively target the sector.
M&A partner Charlie Jacobs will lead the private equity practice at Linklaters. Jacobs said: “We’re sad to see them go but we wish them well. They’re great guys and have left us a good platform.”
White and McKeeve could not be reached for comment. Kirkland & Ellis declined to comment.