Linklaters raids Freshfields for restructuring star Howard

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finance partner Chris Howard has rejoined Linklaters in a major coup for the Silk Street firm.

Chris Howard
Chris Howard

Howard left Linklaters as a senior associate to become a partner at Freshfields in 2004. In doing so, he became the first associate hire ever to move into the equity at the firm.

The departure is the latest in a string of high profile exits from Freshfields finance practice in the last few years. David Ereira and Brian Gray also left for Linklaters in separate moves in 2007.

More recently, in 2009, former White & Case partners Maurice Allen and Mike Goetz left the partnership a little over a year after joining the firm. The pair have since set up Ropes & Gray’s City base.

Howard himself enjoys close relationships with both Ereira and Gray. With current banking chief Robert Elliott widely tipped to take a run at the senior partner position at Linklaters next year, it is expected that Howard will fulfil the firm’s need for another restructuring specialist.

He enjoys close relationships with several investment and commercial banks, including JP Morgan Cazenove, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS and HSBC. Earlier this year Howard was a nominee for The Lawyer’s annual Hot 100 for his work on restructuring mandates for both senior and mezzanine lenders, with deals including the Four Seasons Healthcase restructuring, Ferretti and a role on Almatis among others.

Freshfields banking head Alan Newton told The Lawyer: “Chris has been a valuable contrubutor to our banking and restructuring practice and we wish him well.”

Newton added, in a statement:”’We have never had such a deep and talented team of partners and associates in our banking and restructuring practices as is the case at present.  We have invested in these practices in recent years and will continue to do so.”

Linklaters banking head Robert Elliott told The Lawyer: “He’s obviously a good hire for us. We’ve had an awful lot of respect for him for a long time. The market opportunity is still pretty considerable within the whole banking-restructuring space.

“If you look at the debt cycle between now and 2015 the restructuring needs are massive. We feel he will strengthen an already strong team.”