Hammonds has retrenched on its aim to build a London private equity practice to rival that of Macfarlanes with the appointment of Leeds partner John Jones as national practice head.

The last two private equity heads, David Bayliss and Robert Hamill, were London-based, which was testament to the firm’s strategy to chase high-margin work from established London private equity houses.

Jones replaces Hamill, who left for Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw earlier this year. Hamill spent only around one year in the job, which he took up after Bayliss went to Norton Rose in February 2002.

Jones will look to Hammonds’ existing regional private equity client base for London deals and intends to target London houses for regional deals.

He said that now the economic climate is forcing magic circle firms to trawl for private equity work, this is the most sensible strategy.

“I think we have to walk before we can run,” he explained. “I don’t think it’s realistic in the current market to expect instructions from the likes of CVC and Candover.”

Jones added that the firm is not looking to hire a high-profile private equity partner for the London office.