Kaye Scholer plans City structured finance launch with Freshfields hire

Kaye Scholer is set to launch a London structured finance practice early next year with the hire of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Stuart Axford.

Axford, who acts for the Bank of England, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wells Fargo, will become the US firm’s first City lawyer in structured finance and, according to the firm’s website, its tenth partner in the UK.

He will also become the firm’s first dedicated finance partner in London, alongside counsel Colin Tan, and will join in January 2013.

The move comes amid an ongoing attempt by Kaye Scholer to build up its European structured finance capabilities, with the US firm taking on a pair of partners from Simmons & Simmons in Frankfurt last year (24 June 2011).

The strategy is seen as a drive to grow a group in Europe to balance its highly regarded New York structured finance practice, where finance chair Henry Morriello is one of the market’s leading securitisation specialists.

Axford said: “One of the attractions of the move for me is it will be a more general finance role. I’ll be doing not just structured finance and securitisation, but general finance as well. [The firm’s London growth] will be done slowly and carefully, with the right people, and it will be the right mix.”

Freshfields commented in a statement: “We’d like to thank Stuart for all he’s done for the firm over the last 14 years. His colleagues will miss his keen sense of humour and kindness. We wish him all the best in his new role.”

Axford’s departure from Freshfields follows a string of people moves in securitisation and structured finance in London in the past year, including Clifford Chance partner Matthew Cahill’s recent exit for Sidley Austin (25 September 2012).

For more on UK structured finance lawyers joining US firms click here.