Shearman’s monetary companion joins Freshfields in London

Shearman’s financial partner joins Freshfields in London

The specialist for structured products and derivatives is one of the three financial partners presented by the British company in London and New York

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has hired a partner from Shearman & Serling’s highly rated London structured products and derivatives team, one of three financial partners announced today on both sides of the Atlantic by UK firm Magic Circle.

James Duncan – a leading member of the Legal 500 list – is the third London-based partner to leave Shearman after it was announced last month that the firm was entering into a merger with Freshfields’ Magic Circle competitor, Allen & Overy (A&O) , plans.

Also in London, Freshfields has brought in high yield bond specialist Haden Henderson from Baker McKenzie, while across the Atlantic it has brought in capital solutions specialist Damian P. Ridealgh from Weil Gotshal & Manges.

While all three hires are notable, Duncan’s departure from Shearman will inevitably draw attention given the imminent merger with A&O and in the context of a spate of partner losses ahead of the collapse of previous talks with Hogan Lovells in March.

Duncan was an integral part of Shearman’s London team, joining in 2012 from legacy company Berwin Leighton Paisner. He specializes in advising on cross-border strategic equity solutions and buy- and sell-side financings.

He is understood to have served a notice period, meaning the proposed merger has not resulted in his departure. The same is true for the international energy team of four partners, including two London-based partners whose relocation to Ashurst coincided with the announcement of Shearman’s deal with A&O.

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Commentators agree that some exits are all but inevitable ahead of the A&O Shearman deal, which still requires approval from both firms’ partnerships and is expected to last many months.

This seems particularly likely in areas of mutual strength in the same region where conflict may come into play: A&O’s London structured products and derivatives practice is classified in Band 1 by the Legal 500 directory, while Shearman is in Band 2.

Richard Hart, partner in structured products and derivatives at Freshfields, meanwhile, said the appointment demonstrates the firm’s “strategic growth ambitions in the private equity space, where derivatives-based and other structured solutions are becoming increasingly relevant to sponsors’ funding and risk management needs.”

A Shearman spokesman wished Duncan well, adding, “Our derivatives and structured products practice is recognized in the market for the breadth of our client base, the depth of our product experience and our true cross-border capabilities.”

Joining Duncan in Freshfields’ London finance team is Henderson, who joins from Bakers, where he has been a partner since 2018. He specializes in advising on high yield bond offerings, dedicated leveraged finance transactions and bond restructurings.

Freshfields today also bolstered its partner numbers in the US, where the potential deal with A&O Shearman has spotlighted the company’s growth plans in the US, as well as those of its other main UK competitors, Clifford Chance and Linklaters.

Damian P. Ridealgh joined the US finance practice from Weil Gotshal & Manges. A former partner of Ashurst and Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, he advises private equity clients on a range of matters including special situations and liability management transactions and acquisition finance in the US and Europe.

His private equity fund clients include Hayfin Capital Management, CPPIB Credit Investments, Angelo Gordon & Co and Blackstone.

On Monday, CC unveiled plans to open an office in Houston focused on energy work with a team of ten partners, including seven career changers from competing firms.