HSF makes Aussie partner Ferraro global corporate chief in post-merger re-jig

Herbert Smith Freehills has shaken up its corporate leadership, appointing Melbourne-based Mike Ferraro as sole global corporate head.

Ferraro currently shares the role of global corporate chief with London-based Patrick Mitchell, who has had a hand in the management of the firm’s corporate practice for four years. 

Mitchell will no longer have a management role in the firm’s corporate practice, but will take up the newly-established position of infrastructure head for the UK and EMEA. He will work closely with Melbourne-based partner Andrew Clark, who heads up the firm’s projects offering in Australia and Asia. 

Prior to the merger of Herbert Smith and Australia’s Freehills in October 2012 (28 June 2012), Mitchell held the post of corporate managing partner and head of infrastructure. He will also continue to play a key role in the development of the firm’s German practice. 

The changes will take effect as of 1 May 2014, when the firm’s new joint CEO’s Sonya Leydecker and Mark Rigotti take up their positions for three years (19 December 2013). The firm appointed Hong-Kong-based Justin D’Agostino as the firm’s new global disputes chief last month, succeeding Leydecker (19 March 2014).

Leydecker said: “As Mark Rigotti and I take over as joint CEOs in May, we want to streamline firm management further.” 

She continued: “We will benefit from seeing one person overseeing the practice right across the world. We’ll have a global head and regional head of practice in each of our four regions, and the one partner at the top can manage the whole piece.” 

On Mitchell’s new role, she added: “Infrastructure is a key practice which has been strengthened as a result of the merger, and we need someone to devote more time to that.” 

The firm already has three regional practice heads – Hong Kong-based corporate partner Austin Sweeney in Asia, Sydney-based corporate partner Andrew Pike in Australia, and funds partner Scott Cochrane in London. 

As part of the latest shake-up, the firm has also added Madrid-based partner Alvaro Sainz to this roster in order to head up its corporate practice in EMEA. 

Herbert Smith Freehill’s global head of M&A, Stephen Wilkinson, will retain his position. However, his mandate will be extended to work alongside Ferarro and the regional corporate practice heads in integrating and increasing the profile of the firm’s M&A practice in the UK, Europe and the US. 

Leydecker and Rigotti appointed the new practice heads independently, with the aim of “bringing the corporate practice together as one proper team”. 

The firm is currently looking to appoint an EMEA disputes chief, with the results likely to be announced in the next six to nine months.