Akin Gump Expands London Funds Practice With Two Partner Hires

Monday, February 6, 2012 - 17:43

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has added two partners to its London funds practice.

Tim Pearce and Ian Meade will join the firm from Simmons & Simmons.

Their arrival at Akin Gump will significantly expand the firm’s London practice, which advises leading funds and fund managers on a broad range of issues, investment products and asset classes, including fund formation and financial services regulation and compliance, as well as their business activities more generally.

Mr. Pearce and Mr. Meade will also work closely with the firm’s market-leading international funds teams and clients in New York, Washington DC, Dallas, Abu Dhabi and Beijing.

Mr. Pearce and Mr. Meade are involved in a broad range of financial services work including advising in relation to investment trusts, limited partnerships, open-ended investment companies (OEICs) and financial services regulatory work. They specialize in the launch of hedge funds and funds of hedge funds and related issues, including advising in relation to segregated account agreements and managed account platforms. They also advise a number of leading London-based hedge fund managers on new hedge fund products including the creation of bespoke investment structures and subsequent negotiation of investments by sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and other significant institutional investors in such structures.

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Robert L. Nelson Jr., a partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s global project finance and energy and global transactions practices, was recently elected chair of the Project Finance Subcommittee of the International Bar Association (IBA). The IBA is the world’s leading organization of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies and includes more than 45,000 lawyers from countries spanning the globe.

In this role, Mr. Nelson will be responsible for ensuring that the IBA’s members, and those of affiliated and cooperating organizations, remain informed as to the latest trends and developments within the project finance space. Mr. Nelson will also serve as chair of the IBA’s Biennial Project Finance Conference, to be held April 16-17 in London. Titled “The Pathway to the Future,” the conference will attract project finance and transactions lawyers, developers, financial executives and government officials and regulators from around the world.

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Akin Gump has been named “Corporate Team of the Year” at the Legal Business Awards 2012.

The Legal Business Awards recognize “outstanding work from across the legal profession and acknowledge the accomplishments of the finest lawyers currently working in the UK and beyond.”

At the awards ceremony in London on February 9, 2012, the firm won the category from a shortlist of seven leading law firms. It is the first time that the award has been given to a firm outside the UK’s five leading law firms in over a decade. This award follows the firm’s receipt of the “Emerging Markets Law Firm of the Year” award at the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Awards 2011 in October.

Akin Gump was nominated for the award based on its successful advice to leading emerging market mobile telecoms operator VimpelCom in acquiring Wind Telecom. This acquisition created the world’s sixth-largest mobile telecommunications carrier by subscribers, operating in 20 countries. The acquisition closed in April 2011.

Akin Gump’s London-based team advising VimpelCom was led by corporate partner Dan Walsh and included partners Fred Heller, Sebastian Rice and Harry Keegan, counsel Lisa Hearn, Alexander Lemke and Vanessa Evans, and associates Katie Spencer and Francesca Rodd, with advice from New York-based corporate partners Bruce Mendelsohn and Pat Dooley. The team also included London-based litigation/arbitration partner Justin Williams and New York-based litigation/arbitration partners Steve Pesner and Bob Pees.

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International law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is to open an office in Hong Kong, PRC, further expanding its international footprint in Asia.

Gregory D. Puff, who joins the firm from Shearman & Sterling, will lead the Hong Kong office and the firm’s Asia practice. He will be joined by Andrew Abernethy from Norton Rose.

The arrival of Mr. Puff and Mr. Abernethy significantly enhances Akin Gump’s corporate, capital markets, private equity and funds experience in Asia and will complement the established trade and funds practices the firm operates in Beijing.

In keeping with Akin Gump’s well-established practice in Beijing, the firm’s Hong Kong work will complement not only the firm’s funds, telecoms and energy practices, but its Asian trade and policy practices as well. Additionally, this move will help the firm build on its recognized practice strengths across South and Southeast Asia.

The firm will offer U.S., English and Hong Kong legal advice in the coming months.

Initially, the firm will advise on pan-Asian M&A, private equity fund formation and management of equity capital markets listings for existing firm clients. In the future, the firm will expand the practice to advise on hedge fund formation, project and infrastructure development and finance, oil and gas transactional work, international arbitration and wider dispute resolution, and international policy and trade work.

Gregory Puff, recognized in leading independent legal guides such as Chambers Global (for high-end corporate/M&A work for China (Hong Kong-based)), IFLR 1000 and the Legal 500 Asia Pacific, is admitted to practice in New York and Hong Kong. He has been involved in a wide array of public and private mergers and hostile transactions, stock and asset purchases and joint ventures.  He regularly represents multinational corporations and global investment and commercial banking firms in their M&A transactions around the world.  In addition, Mr. Puff has previously practiced in New York, London and Tokyo. 

Andrew Abernethy is an M&A and investment funds lawyer. His experience includes advising on international M&A, particularly cross-border transactions, investment funds formation and a range of equity and convertible securities offerings. Mr. Abernethy is named in the International Who's Who of Private Funds Lawyers and as a leading M&A lawyer in China and Hong Kong in the IFLR 1000. The Legal 500 Asia Pacific for 2011-2012 noted that, in Hong Kong investment funds, “the ‘fantastic’ Andrew Abernethy provides ‘solid advice based on commercial considerations.’”