Sweet Sixteen: Weil Gotshal & Manges

Star practices/people
Weil Gotshal & Manges has earned its place in the Sweet Sixteen by building a leading private equity practice in ­London and New York as well as maintaining its reputation in ­restructuring and bankruptcy in the US.

In New York Weil is well known for its traditional strength in bankruptcy. Although the co-head of the practice group Martin Bienenstock jumped ship for Dewey & LeBoeuf late last year, head of bankruptcy Marcia Goldstein maintains a still-strong 82-strong team in New York.

With Mike Francies at the helm, the London office has also flourished. Marquee hires such as that of Marco Compagnoni (who joined Weil from Lovells in May 2006) underline the firm’s success in ­London.

In 2007 the London office won mandates on two of the most significant private equity deals of the year. Compagnoni and corporate partner Ian Hamilton advised Terra Firma on its £3.2bn purchase of music publisher EMI in May, while in April Compagnoni advised the same client on its bid to acquire Alliance Boots.

Meanwhile, its German office punches above its weight to bring in sizeable corporate deals and cross-border workouts and is one of the most successful US firms in the country.

Weil started life as a finance boutique before realigning itself to its corporate practice. ­However, organic growth in London appears to have stalled. It is one of the most sizeable US firms in London, but still seems to look for laterals rather than ­promoting from within, which is arguably short-sighted.

Weil has a global network with offices in the US, Asia and Continental Europe. The firm has been following its biggest clients around the globe. It is developing its international scope with particular interest in Asia. A Shanghai office is said to be on the agenda. And with the private equity industry flourishing in Asia, Weil could find its expertise well suited to that emerging market.

But its Asia offices are still fairly new and small, focusing mainly on private equity and M&A.

The verdict
Weil’s dominance in the US restructuring market sees it ­currently well-positioned. If the firm can translate this ­traditional strength to its UK and Continental European ­offices, Weil’s global strength has the potential to weather the credit crunch.