BLP restructuring head quits, making it three for Jones Day

Ben Larkin, the head of the restructuring practice at Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), has become the latest high-profile partner to quit the firm.

John Phillips
John Phillips

Larkin, who joined BLP in 2002 from Dechert where he was a partner (5 August 2002), is joining Jones Day as de facto head of the London restructuring practice.

He specialises in corporate restructuring, turnaround and insolvency matters and is particularly known for real estate-related restructurings, particularly those with a development focus.

Larkin’s deals include advising representing RBS in the restructuring of Le Méridien hotel group; on a restructuring of more than 100 companies within the TXU Group; and on the restructuring of the Henly’s Group.

He had been tipped by some sources to have been in line to take over as BLP banking and finance head from Matthew Kellett, who quit the firm last October (30 October 2013).

Larkin joins fellow former BLP partners Raymond McKeeve and Michael Weir, both of whom are private equity specialists and who joined Jones Day last year (20 August 2013), at the US firm.

Jones Day London managing partner John Phillips described Larkin as “a top rate restructuring lawyer” his firm had wanted to hire for some time.

“Jones Day has a genuinely global restructuring practice so it’s also a massive opportunity for him to continue to develop his clients and practice,” added Phillips. “His hire means we’ll be augmenting our team with a heavyweight transactional partner who can continue to develop the practice. In London, we have aspirations to be the go-to restructuring firm like we are in the US. We are absolutely flat out at the moment.”

Jones Day’s London restructuring team currently has four partners and a total team of eight. Phillips added the firm would be looking to hire at associate level to increase the restructuring group’s leverage.

Sion Richards, who heads the contentious side of the restructuring practice, confirmed that Larkin would be the most senior in the team by qualification and experience and therefore the de facto head.

“Ben will be leading the restructuring group practice in London,” said Richards.

In 2011 Weil Gotshal & Manges raided Jones Day’s London office to hire restructuring partner Adam Plainer, the head of the City practice from 2003, to lead its own restructuring practice (26 January 2011).

The departure of Larkin coincides with the hire last week by Squire Sanders of former BLP employment head Fraser Younson (7 February 2014). Other exits from BLP over the past few months include finance partners Trevor Wood, Richard Todd and group head Kellett, structured finance head Tamara Box, who joined Reed Smith, and acquisition finance partner Andrew Bamber (4 November 2013).

A BLP spokesperson said partner Ben Jones, who has been with BLP for five years since joining as an associate, had been appointed as the firm’s new head of restructuring. The three-partner group also features David Leibowitz and Ian Benjamin.

“We wish him well,” said the spokesperson on Larkin.