Top 50 US Firms in London Rank11

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett – like its New York elite competitors – handles a wide range of corporate, finance and contentious matters, but unlike any of the others in the group traditionally known as the white shoes, it is most synonymous with private equity. This is largely thanks to the firm’s involvement in the LBO market of the 1980s and its advice to clients in the then emerging area of private equity and from that point on. And while several

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett – like its New York elite competitors – handles a wide range of corporate, finance and contentious matters, but unlike any of the others in the group traditionally known as the white shoes, it is most synonymous with private equity. This is largely thanks to the firm’s involvement in the LBO market of the 1980s and its advice to clients in the then emerging area of private equity and from that point on.

And while several firms including Kirkland & Ellis have made strides in recent years to muscle in on its patch, Simpson Thacher retains its position as the number one adviser to some of the biggest names in the private equity market and in particular Blackstone and KKR.

The London office, launched in 1978, was its first overseas and like many of its competitors was a response to the increasing internationalisation of key clients such as Lehman Brothers and its bank finance anchor client JPMorgan. More recently Simpson saw a changing of the management guard in 2017 when longstanding City head Greg Conway relocated back to the US and was replaced in the role by funds partner (and Brit) Jason Glover.

The firm’s London presence is comparatively small at around 20 partners, although there are some 100-plus lawyers in total. And the lean headcount has not stopped Simpson from snagging roles on several of the biggest deals in town, with recent mandates including advising Blackstone on the sale of its pan-European logistics company Logicor to China Investment Corporation for €12.25bn,

KKR in its acquisition and related financing of Unilever’s global Spreads business for €6.825bn, and CVC Capital Partners on the formation and raising of the €15.5bn CVC Capital Partners VII fund for private equity investments in Europe and North America, the largest European fundraising on record.

Neither has it prevented the firm from generating disproportionately large revenues in its sole UK office, with the most recent turnover (for 2017) coming in at $164.87m, or an average of $8.2m per partner. Very few firms in the world can match that.

Nevertheless, the departure of Alvaro Membrillera to Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison last year, one of that similarly elite firm’s extremely rare lateral hires, and relocation of both Conway and Mike Wolfson put a significant dent in Simpson Thacher’s core London M&A team. Likewise the widely expected retirement of corporate veteran Adam Signy will leave a hole that requires filling when that day dawns. Easier said than done.

Litigation is also a cornerstone of the firm’s practice and contributes around a third of total revenue. Like their non-contentious counterparts, Simpson Thacher’s litigation partners also generate high average revenues (in The Lawyer’s most recent Global Litigation 50 report the firm had the highest average RPL of any firm at $2.25m).

Simpson Thacher, which was founded in 1884, currently has around 900 lawyers globally.