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Allen & Overy outlines Australian push

Allen & Overy outlines Australian push

Allen & Overy has flagged the prospect of further aggressive hiring as it seeks to consolidate its launch into the Australian market, following a 14-partner raid on Clayton Utz's corporate…

Allen & Overy has flagged the prospect of further aggressive hiring as it seeks to consolidate its launch into the Australian market, following a 14-partner raid on Clayton Utz's corporate stable announced yesterday.

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly today, global managing partner Wim Dejonghe said the firm was ready to hire a swathe of junior lawyers and more partners from the local market to back up its founding team.

The Magic Circle behemoth has announced a founding partnership team of 17 from Australia, 14 direct from the ranks of Clayton Utz - 11 partners from Sydney, and three from its Perth office.

Allen & Overy has said it will look to beef up its partnership ranks to 30 in the near future, and will support these partners with a staff of between 50 and 60 associates to be sourced from local firms.

Dejonghe said he expects that at least some of the junior lawyers will come from Clayton Utz. "The partners there are in the process of extracting themselves, so they won't be approaching their lawyers at the present time, but in the meantime we will be hiring in the market," he said.

The firm will initially be targeting lawyers in the energy and resources, corporate and M&A, and finance arenas, with its finance practice to include both banking and capital markets elements.

Outlining the firm's strategy, Dejonghe said the Australian market had been on the firm's "watch list" for some time, because of an increase in regional investment taking place within the Asia-Pacific Region.

"Australia is a market which is becoming increasingly relevant in Asia. With increased investment activity across the region, obviously Australia plays a big role, so it's a big part of our Asia strategy," he said.

In competition with Australia's top-tier firms, Allen & Overy will heavily market its global footprint to potential clients, as well as its strength across the bourgeoning Asia-Pacific Region.

"Our unique proposition is our global coverage," Dejonghe said.

In regard to Asia, Dejonghe said the firm had "many more offices in Asia, and in terms of sheer number of people, many more lawyers across Asia" than any Australian firms with Asian offices.

Allen & Overy has also judged the local market has enough room for a new entrant. "For the size of the market, what we know from discussion with clients is that they will welcome an alternative in the top end of the market, which will give them more choice," Dejonghe said.

The Magic Circle firm will pursue a different business model. "Local firms are strong and successful, but I think in terms of legal specialisation they have a broader coverage than we will have," Dejonghe said.

The firm will focus primarily on high-end deals with significant cross-border elements, having targetted its hiring in the energy and resources, corporate and M&A, and finance spaces, though it has outlined a broader strategy that includes projects, investment funds, tax, and telecoms, media and technology.

The Australian team will fall under the management of partner Tom Brown, who steers the firm's regional offering out of Hong Kong, until an Australian managing partner is elected in coming months. The firm will officially open its doors for business on 1 March.

The founding partnership have all been admitted into the lucrative pool of Allen & Overy equity, which yields an average profit per equity partner (PEP) of £1.1 million ($2 million) according to The Lawyer, compared with $1.25 million at Clayton Utz, according to The Australian Financial Review.

The Sydney lawyers hired from Clayton Utz were Jason Denisenko (corporate/funds and financial products), Angela Flannery (banking), Sonia Goumenis (banking/structured capital markets), Jason Huinink (banking), Barry Irwin (corporate/energy & resources), Grant Koch (corporate/private equity), Michael Parshall (corporate/M&A), Karolina Popic (banking/structured capital markets), Michael Reede (corporate/private equity), Andrew Stals (corporate/tax practice) and David Wilkie (funds and infrastructure).

From Clayton Utz in Perth Allen & Overy took Meredith Campion (corporate/energy & resources), Geoff Simpson (corporate/energy & resources) and Peter Wilkes (corporate/energy & resources/banking).

Meanwhile, Chris Robertson (banking) joins from Freehills and Aaron Kanavan (corporate) from investment bank JP Morgan. Former Clayton Utz partner Grant Fuzi (banking), who left the Australian firm last year, has also elected to join the incoming firm.

- Ben Abbott

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