Award Chambers & Partners

The World's Leading Lawyers for Business 2008: Private Equity

On an annual basis, Chambers & Partners conducts extensive research and thorough data analysis in compiling its objective list of talent available at the highest level of international legal practice. Its research methodology has been independently audited and confirmed to be thorough, robust and complete.

In Chambers' 2008 review of international legal talent in the area of Private Equity, our Firm is listed among the best in the world.

Chambers' comments:

Private Equity: Buyouts & Venture Capital Investment
USA Ranking: 1

The Firm: One of the original market players, this premier outfit boasts a "first class private equity offering from top to bottom." According to interviewees, Kirkland has "one of the most diversified practices" in the arena, both nationally and internationally. The group has a varied deal list and broad client base that covers top-level and mid-market PE houses as well as new funds. It regularly acts for LA-based GFI Energy Ventures, while recent work includes representing Oaktree Capital Management in its USD200 million acquisition of Roncadin's ice cream division. Sources praise a negotiation style that is tough but never unnecessarily combative: "Unlike some lawyers, who want to argue every point and end up missing the forest for the trees, the members of this team do exactly what needs to be done to settle the deal in the most effective way."

The Lawyers: Kevin Evanich is one of the biggest names in the private equity sector and continues to be one of "the go-to people" for representation in big-fund matters. In recent times he has overseen a clutch of deals for GTCR Golder Rauner, including the USD1 billion acquisition of ConvergEx, the brokerage division of Bank of New York. Stephen Fraidin is an established figure in the corporate arena, known for both his public M&A expertise and his private equity know-how. Also renowned is Jeffrey Hammes, whose "powerful marketplace position" sees his influence extend much further than his Midwest base. He is credited with establishing Kirkland's PE presence in San Francisco and has long-standing relationships with Bain Capital and a host of other key clients. At present he is playing a key role in the firm's advance into Asia. "Terrific deal lawyer" Kirk Radke is a "seasoned practitioner" with a "huge amount of credibility with the other side" during negotiations. Now firmly established in his new team, highly respected former Sidley Austin partner Jon Ballis advised Looking Glass Networks Holding on its USD165 million merger with Level 3 Communications. Observers describe Sandy Perl as "great. He is frequently on the front line of the firm's top private equity transactions." Instrumental in the GTCR/ConvergEx deal, he also advised Madison Dearborn Partners on its sale of TeamHealth to The Blackstone Group. Jack Levin is a legend in the PE arena and is credited with "building up the formidable group at Kirkland." He continues to oversee many of the firm's most significant M&A deals, LBOs and fund formations. He combines a "commercially minded" approach with an "excellent bedside manner" that clients greatly appreciate.

Clients/Work Highlights: American Capital Strategies; Bear Stearns Merchant Banking; CVC Capital Partners; Rutland Partners and Summit Partners.

Private Equity: Fund Formation
USA Ranking: 1

The Firm: Competitors view Kirkland as a "major threat"in the fund formation arena. While the Chicago office is perceived to be the team's power base, prowess in the buyouts area has boosted its fund formation profile in New York. In the past year, the group has received repeat instructions from its loyal clientele. These include advising Golden Gate Capital on its formation of its unique private equity buyout fund. The firm also represented Vestar Capital Partners in the formation of its USD3.7 billion fund, which involved a complex management fee waiver and partner structure necessitated by Vestar's presence in both the USA and Europe.

The Lawyers: Bruce Ettelson is widely recognised as an expert on private equity and venture capital fund formation. He advises clients such as Madison Dearborn Partners on the structuring and creation of multimillion-dollar funds.

Clients/Work Highlights: AEA Investors and Symphony Technology Group are also clients of the firm.

Private Equity: Buyouts
Germany Ranking: 3

The Firm: Reputed for its focus on private equity, this mid-sized team benefits from the firm's highly developed internal structure. Advising a number of important UK clients, the group has been involved in some of the most prominent transactions in the market.

The Lawyers: Described as "one of the most accomplished lawyers in the market," Volker Kullmann is said to have given "a tremendous boost to the firm's private equity practice" with his arrival. Advising Bridgepoint in its acquisition of Rodenstock from Permira and Bain Capital in its disposal of the Brenntag Group, he has figured significantly in the high to upper-mid-range market this year.

Clients/Work Highlights: A close relationship to Bain Capital ensures this firm's presence in the higher end of the market. Other clients include Glide Buy-Out Fund; TowerBrook Capital Partner LP; Hellman & Friedman and Bridgepoint Capital.

Private Equity: International Buyouts
UK Ranking: 3

Private Equity: Buyouts
UK Ranking: 4

The Firm: Not content to sit pretty advising a stellar US clientele from London base, Kirkland's objective is clearly to win local clients and establish itself as a major force in the European market. That message was clear when the firm lured Graham White and Raymond McKeeve from Linklaters in 2006 and resonated again early in 2007 when a team of pre-eminent funds lawyers arrived from SJ Berwin. The new arrivals join an already impressive team headed by US rainmaker James Learner, and on paper the ensemble looks formidable. It advises some of the top names in US buyout circles. Recent London highlights include acting for Bain Capital and Apax Partners in the EUR8.3 billion club buyout of semiconductor business NXP from Philips. The arrival of White and McKeeve was significant because it gave the firm a foothold in the UK mid-market. The pair brought with them a raft of relationships, including strong ties to Robert Tchenguiz and his investment company R20, which the group recently advised on the GBP180 million acquisition of Menzies Hotels from Nikko Principal Investments. Outside of the UK, the firm has a strong presence in Germany - where it has an office - and Italy. An increasingly serious contender in the European marketplace, the team represented Bain Capital in the EUR3 billion disposal of Brenntag and represented new client Providence Equity Partners in the GBP1.46 billion acquisition of Caudwell Communications. The firm also plays in the lower mid-markets, as illustrated by its recent advice to Veronis Suhler Stevenson on its GBP53 million acquisition of Granada Learning.

The Lawyers: Graham White belongs to the "cream of the City," say clients, who add that he is "hard, commercial and cuts to the chase." His right-hand man is Raymond McKeeve, and together the pair form an impressive deal execution duo, according to sources. Group head Jim Learner has a wealth of private equity experience on both sides of the Atlantic and is notably the key partner for Bain Capital.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers Global, The World's Leading Lawyers for Business 2008 -