New York’s StormHarbour picks up Merrill Lynch associate GC for top City job

The associate general counsel of Bank of America (BofA) Merrill Lynch, Richard Atkinson, has taken up a general counsel role at New York independent advisory firm StormHarbour.

Atkinson has already joined the banking boutique’s London office, working alongside chief legal officer Sheila Hartigan and former BofA Merrill Lynch head of high yield debt Amir Hoveyda. Hoveyda is managing principal of the London base, having joined in 2011, while Hartigan took up the role in 2011 from White & Case and, prior to that, Clifford Chance.

It is not known if the general counsel role is a new one for StormHarbour’s City office, or if Hoveyda and Atkinson knew each other while working at BofA Merrill Lynch. Neither Atkinson or StormHarbour’s global general counsel Michael Sussman, a former Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton lawyer, responded to requests for comment.

BofA Merrill Lynch, whose EMEA GC is London-based Sajid Hussein, is not replacing Atkinson and insiders have told The Lawyer that neither a panel review or a restructure is on the cards for the top investment bank.

The two banks merged in 2009 and BofA Merrill Lynch began its first panel review a year later. Key legal advisers have included Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Linklaters, whose involvement on BofA Merrill Lynch’s £565m sale of its non-US wealth management business to Julius Baer Group in 2012 (14 August 2012) resembled the line-up on BofA’s takeover of Merrill Lynch in 2008, when the US firm guided BofA and Linklaters advised Merrill Lynch (25 September 2008).

Cleary has a longstanding relationship with BofA, which it advised on the increase of a stake in China Construction Bank in 2005 (24 October 2005). It also led it through the acquisition of credit card issuer MBNA the same year (1 July 2005).

Other known advisers have included Allen & Gledhill (Singapore), Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Blake Dawson ­(Australia), Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, Holman Fenwick & Willan, McDermott Will & Emery, Norton Rose and Sullivan & Cromwell.