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Baker McKenzie Enhances Leveraged Finance Team With Significant Hire

Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie has hired Ben Wilkinson from White & Case where he was a partner in the Debt Finance practice. Ben will join the Banking & Finance practice in London on May 3rd, to help build out the Leveraged Finance team.

With over 16 years in the legal industry, Ben’s experience includes advising investment banks and private credit funds in relation to cross-border acquisition finance transactions, in particular those with complex capital structures. He regularly advises lenders, borrowers and financial advisors in connection with the bank financing of acquisitions of public companies, and also acts for a variety of lender syndicates, steering committees, sponsors and companies in relation to various restructuring matters.

Ben is an important strategic hire with a focus and strong experience in cross-border leveraged / acquisition financing transactions, particularly on the lender-side, which will significantly expand our capabilities in the leveraged finance space.

Matthew Dening, Global Chair of Baker McKenzie’s Banking & Finance practice group, commented: “Ben has an outstanding reputation in the acquisition finance and bank lending market. Expectations are that 2021 is going to be very busy as financial performance re-stabilises with pent-up refinancing and liquidity that has yet to be deployed, creating key opportunities. Ben’s appointment will put Baker McKenzie in a solid position to take advantage of these openings.”

London Managing Partner Alex Chadwick added: “We are very excited about Ben joining our Banking & Finance group in London. His practice is firmly aligned with our strong industry focus and his hiring represents our ambitions to become one of the leading transactional Firms globally. Ben has a long track record of doing deals in the financial sector which supports our ambitions to strengthen our relationships with sponsors. We will continue to grow our transactional partnership in London and other key markets, both laterally and organically.”

Ben Wilkinson’s hire comes after a number of recent lateral appointments including M&A partner Nick Rainsford who joined from Ashurst, private equity partner Justin Hutchinson who joined from Kirkland & Ellis, Adam Eastell a partner from Slaughter & May and Nick Bryans, also from Ashurst.

Baker McKenzie is a transactional powerhouse with over 2500 deal lawyers and expertise in over 46 countries. We excel in cross-border deals – over 60% of our deals are multi-jurisdictional. We are global and local, combining money market sophistication with local excellence.

Dentons wins two CSR awards for the Greece Pro Bono Collaborative

Dentons has won two awards, together with five other firms, for its involvement in the Greece Pro Bono Collaborative. The Collaborative received awards for ‘Innovation in Social Responsibility’ at the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Awards Europe, and for ‘CSR Innovation (Multi-Firm) at the Legal Innovation Awards.

In addition to Dentons, the other members of the Collaborative include Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; White & Case; Ashurst; Allen & Overy; Charles Russell Speechlys; and the NGO, European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL).

There are more than 100,000 asylum seekers in Greece, most of them living in terrible conditions. Based on the island of Lesvos, the Collaborative aims to assist with the migration crisis by increasing migrants’ access to legal services, monitoring issues of process and rule of law, and building legal capacity in Greece. Volunteers travel to Lesvos to help asylum seekers with first instance interviews and family reunification with support from ELIL, which has provided free legal assistance on Lesvos through its team of full-time Greek asylum lawyers and volunteers since July 2016.

Haya Moubaydeen, associate in Dentons’ Amman office who travelled to Lesvos, said, “I was moved to act when I saw families, who have already gone through so much, being forced to live in overcrowded and difficult conditions. It was heart-wrenching to witness their plight but very rewarding to be able to help, even if in a small way.”

Bas Legger, associate in Dentons’ Amsterdam office who also travelled to Lesvos, added, “I am happy to have been the first lawyer to participate on behalf of Dentons in the Greece Pro Bono Collaborative. This project combines the strengths of six international law firms to support European Lawyers in Lesvos. At the time I went to Moria, there were 13,000 people in a camp with room for 3,100. When you walk past the tents in Moria and listen to the stories of the people there, it’s hard not to be thankful for what we have and want to help those in need.”

ELIL is a joint initiative of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the German Bar Association (DAV). Dentons has provided pro bono support to ELIL since its inception and advised ELIL on its legal structure and implementation in nine European jurisdictions, which culminated in ELIL’s incorporation in Germany as a charitable limited liability company.

Law firms collaborate on industry first to accelerate tech adoption

DLA Piper is amongst six international law firms which have developed a Protocol to help deliver a globally consistent approach to the use of online case management platforms in international arbitration. It is anticipated that the Protocol will be of significant value to arbitration practitioners, parties to international arbitrations and to arbitrators as they adapt to the increasing use of technology in dispute resolution, a development which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Protocol, which is a product of collaboration between DLA Piper, Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, CMS, Hogan Lovells and Latham & Watkins, has been in development since May 2019. It aims, amongst other things, to improve arbitral participants’ ability to meet their obligations relating to data handling and cybersecurity in a way which is both practical and cost effective. It is also intended to facilitate efficient and secure document sharing.

The initiative to produce the Protocol reflects a common need that had been identified by lawyers who are engaging directly with a changing legal landscape in which the use of technology and digitisation are assuming ever growing prominence. Particular features of that in international arbitration include the greater focus which Arbitral tribunals are having to give to cybersecurity and data protection, the recognition following the pandemic that much if not all of the arbitral process can be done virtually and the revisions which arbitral institutions are making to their procedures as, for example, they look at the ways in which they can operate through online data hosting platforms.

With this Protocol the six firms have worked together to produce guidance that will help to foster greater understanding of those and other issues, and assist the arbitration community to take a consistent approach. It is of global application, deliberately flexible in approach, and relevant to all forms of international arbitration. In addition to providing guidance to parties to an arbitration, their lawyers, tribunal members and arbitral institutions, it is hoped that it will also contribute to the way in which technology developers and providers tailor their legal tech offerings and develop new products.

Maria Scott, Senior Associate at DLA Piper, and member of the Protocol’s working group, commented: “DLA Piper is proud to be a part of this collaborative initiative, which aims to drive real and beneficial change in the way proceedings are managed around the world. This fits well with our firmwide radical change agenda which addresses the increasing role that technology and innovation is playing within the legal sector. It was, therefore, a natural step for us to work with other firms to develop this comprehensive and practical guidance to assist arbitral users in navigating the online case management options available to them when seeking to store, share and manage data securely.”

Charlie Morgan, Senior Associate and Digital Law Lead (UK) at Herbert Smith Freehills, who chairs the collaborative working group, added: “This protocol will help drive discussion and consensus within the arbitration community and with relevant technology providers about the need for and functionality of online platforms in arbitration. Given the fantastic input from various arbitral participants to date, this guidance will support more informed, streamlined and effective decision-making about the adoption and use of online platforms in international arbitration. It will also herald the development of more sophisticated platform options that continue to meet the evolving needs of arbitration users.”

James Carter, Partner at DLA Piper, also commented: “The guidance set out in the draft Protocol will help to drive the effective and consistent use of sophisticated new technologies in international arbitration in a way which not only delivers efficiency of process but contributes to the confidence which parties have in arbitration as a method of dispute resolution. If it is to remain such a popular method of dispute resolution, international arbitration must adapt and embrace new practices, particularly as regards the use of technology. This Protocol will materially contribute to that by providing valuable guidance to users of international arbitration around the world.”

Ashurst advises on the establishment of Oak National Academy

International law firm Ashurst advised on the launch of Oak National Academy, a virtual school established groups of schools and The Reach Foundation to deliver education remotely to the UK during the COVID-19 crisis.

The new initiative is supported by a range of organisations including Teach First, Google and the Department for Education.

Launched on Monday 20 April, this brand-new enterprise has been created by over 40 teachers from some of the leading schools across England, with government grant funding to support its start up. It will provide 180 video lessons each week, across a broad range of subjects from maths to art to languages, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10.

Ashurst advised Teach First and The Reach Foundation, both charitable entities to support teaching and education across the UK, on a pro bono basis on the IP and branding associated with the launch. This included advising on the availability and use of logos, trademarks, domain names and associated assets and the registration of various IP rights to ensure the protection of the brand and its associated goodwill. The team was led by IP partner David Wilkinson, associate Anouska Fabes and legal analyst manager Jessica Whitfield.

Anouska Fabes commented: “Oak National Academy is an inspiring project that demonstrates the power of collaboration during difficult times, and will provide access to valuable resources for those teachers, students and families in the UK in need of support and a helping hand. The Ashurst IP team are delighted to have worked with Teach First to contribute towards its launch.”

Ashurst hires senior partner to lead its private equity practice in Milan

International law firm Ashurst announces the appointment of partner Fabio Niccoli to lead the private equity offering in Milan.

Fabio joins from CDP Equity (previously Fondo Strategico Italiano S.p.A.), where he has been general counsel since 2012, having been responsible for the set-up of the entire legal structure of the business. A highly regarded and technical lawyer, Fabio has over 20 years of experience across both private practice and in-house. Recognised in the GC Powerlist of the most influential general counsel in Italy by The Legal 500, Fabio has advised on a number of high-end private M&A and private equity deals, with a particular focus on the Italian mid-cap market. He began his career at Bonelli Erede Pappalardo. He has also worked at Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners, before joining the newly-founded firm Labruna Mazziotti Segni contributing to its start-up and becoming a partner in the M&A and private equity practice.

Commenting, Carloandrea Meacci, Milan office managing partner said: “This is a significant development for our practice in Milan – we are able to offer first-rate private equity expertise to complement our market-leading offering in all areas of infrastructure and energy M&A. Fabio is an excellent practitioner with a unique background and he will play a key role in helping us realise our strategy to operate a high performing integrated European corporate M&A and private equity team, as well as to provide support to our existing practices. This appointment also demonstrates our strong commitment to the Italian market, where we have operated for 20 years.”

Global head of corporate, Jason Radford, added: “Fabio is a key strategic hire for the European corporate team, reflecting our aim to further invest in and strengthen our private capital offering. We are delighted to welcome him to the team to help develop a successful private capital and M&A practice in Italy. His background and experience in private practice and as general counsel with a leading Italian investor will complement our existing Italian offering very well.”

Fabio Niccoli said: “I am excited to be joining Ashurst. The firm has great ambitions for its Italian office and European corporate offering. I am looking forward to working with the Italian and global team to deliver some exceptional results for our clients.”

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Ashurst advises Sydney Metro on the Waterloo Metro Quarter

International law firm Ashurst has advised Sydney Metro on their contracts with the John Holland and Mirvac joint venture on the new Waterloo Metro Quarter integrated station development.

The development will revitalise the area and better connect the community, and is made up of five building envelopes above and adjacent to the new Waterloo metro station.

Ashurst advised Sydney Metro on both the station and precinct development contracts.

Lead partner Olivia Lau commented: “Ashurst is delighted to have advised Sydney Metro on the Waterloo Metro Quarter, a project that will revitalise Waterloo and connect local communities. We are very proud to be involved in such a transformational project.”

Olivia was assisted by partner Alex Guy, counsel Melinda Harris, Ben Kipic and Sarah Southall, senior associates Susannah Lace and Andrew Higgins, and lawyers Codie Gippel, Marya Atmeh, Rhiannon Evans, Lachlan Mack, Cameron Griffiths, Joshua Lee, Chloe Kwon and Joyce Teng.

Lawyers from the firm’s tax, dispute resolution, environment and planning, and corporate teams also advised.