Allen & Overy (A&O) finance partner Stephen Kensell,who was a frontrunner in the firm’s recent leadership elections, has exited for Latham & Watkins.

Kensell, who was among several partners running for the senior partner position, was defeated by Wim Dejonghe earlier this year.

Stephen Kensell

Kensell is a leading creditor-side lawyer in the London bank finance market, with experience advising clients on a variety of event-driven financing, and with particular expertise in leveraged, investment grade M&A and IPO related finance.

Latham has been aggressively hiring in the City in the first half of this year. Kensell is the latest in a series of high-profile hires by Latham to improve its financial institutions credentials. The US firm also hired financial regulatory partner Rob Moulton and restructuring partner Simon Baskerville, both from Ashurst.

Latham has also been strengthening its global disputes capability in recent years with the arrival of a number of high-profile lawyers including (in New York) Chief Judge Lippman, Sandeep Savla, Douglas Yatter, Serrin Turner and, from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s London office, Michael Lacovara.

In London Latham recently hired international arbitration partner Sophie Lamb from Debevoise & Plimpton where she was a partner.