Simmons & Simmons Secures U.S. Alliance With New York Funds Boutique

Simmons & Simmons has secured a boost in the U.S. by sealing an alliance with funds specialist outfit Seward & Kissel.

The nonexclusive alliance will focus on the firms’ hedge fund and asset management practices in London, New York and Hong Kong.

Seward, which has offices in New York and Washington, D.C., also has a referral relationship with Norton Rose. Both firms will continue to work with their other referral firms.

The boutique is ranked in the second tier for investment funds in Chambers Global and in the top tier for transportation shipping finance in New York.

Simmons senior partner Colin Passmore told Legal Week: “The alliance was formed in response to a specific opportunity, and it will allow us to expand our offering to our hedge fund and asset management clients in relation to their U.S. law requirements. We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Seward & Kissel and we’re pleased the alliance is up and running.”

Earlier this year, Simmons — which held merger talks with Mayer Brown in 2010 — outlined plans to secure a U.S. practice within three to five years, with Passmore telling Legal Week that the firm needs to “do something” in the key legal market.

However, it is understood that the Seward alliance is not expected to lead to a future merger, although the firms are planning to second lawyers to each other.

Simmons also this year set out a new three-year strategy, with asset management added as a fifth sector to its previous four-pronged approach, forming a new stand-alone sector alongside energy and infrastructure; financial institutions; life sciences; and technology, media and telecoms.

Key hedge funds and asset management clients for Simmons include RAB Capital, Lansdowne, Egerton, Marshall Wace and The Children’s Investment Fund.

Seward, which has 45 partners, principally focuses on corporate, litigation and restructuring work for clients in the financial services, corporate finance and capital markets sectors.

James Cole, the partner responsible for Weil Gotshal & Manges’ London hedge fund practice, commented: “It is a very astute move for both parties. Seward is the leading hedge fund firm in New York. It is a defensive and offensive move on their part, but they will get an awful lot of referral work.”

Key roles the firm took during 2011 included advising Arden Asset Management on its $1.3 billion (£807 million) acquisition of the Robeco Group’s hedge fund of funds business, and assisting New York investment manager Emerging Sovereign Group on its sale of a 55 percent stake to The Carlyle Group.

Dechert financial services partner Peter Astleford added: “U.S. capability is critical for legal advisers to investment managers in today’s markets. This is an important first step for Simmons.”