Morgan Stanley hires Freshfields corporate star as UK investment banking chair

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Morgan Stanley has hired leading Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partner Mark Rawlinson to head its UK investment banking arm.

Rawlinson, who led the magic circle firm’s corporate practice from 2008 to 2011, will also hold the title of managing director and report to global investment banking co-head Franck Petitgas when he starts at the bank in October.

He will work with Morgan Stanley’s UK team to advise and serve existing clients as well as develop the bank’s relationships in the UK market. He is not replacing anyone in the role. It is understood that the position has been vacant since late 2008 when the former post-holder and banker Mark Warham left the bank. Warham joined Barclays a few months later.

During the past year, Rawlinson has worked on multiple high profile M&A deals including AB InBev’s £71bn offer for SAB Miller. He also advised BG Group on its £47bn merger with Royal Dutch Shell and the ongoing merger of the London Stock Exchange and Germany’s Deutchse Boerse.

In 2011, he was appointed head of the firm’s London office, a position he held until 2013. Under his stewardship, Freshfields introduced a client relationship management programme, which saw fee income from its top 30 UK clients rise 16% in a year.

Speaking to Legal Week, Rawlinson said he was looking for a “fresh challenge”.

“I’ve spent 34 years at Freshfields – the last 26 as a partner. I sort of regard myself as a broad adviser and I’m going to carry on being a broad adviser doing largely the same thing but through a different prism. Advising boards is my sweetspot,” he said.

He added that there is a “shortage of guys in their 50s with real deal experience” in many investment banks. “It’s one of the few areas where having grey hair is an advantage,” he said.

Petitgas said: “We have known Mark and worked closely with him for many years, and he has tremendous experience advising UK corporates at the very highest level. Mark will further strengthen our market-leading UK investment banking franchise.”

Freshfields London corporate head Simon Marchant said it is “a testament to the quality of our firm that partners have the opportunity to broaden their careers”, adding: “Mark is the most recent example of this and we wish him well.”

This year, Freshfields gained four new FTSE 250 clients – climbing to second place behind Slaughter and May in the latest quarterly adviser rankings. The firm’s haul of FTSE 250 clients grew from 26 to 30 in the three months to 5 May, pushing Linklaters into third place.

The elite London firm has seen a number of departures in recent months.

Earlier this month, White & Case hired prominent baking lawyer Jeffrey Rubinoff to join its City office. In Paris, Freshfields saw four partners – including corporate partner Patrick Tardivy – exit to join Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s base in the French capital.

In May, news broke that the firm is restructuring its finance practice in an attempt to boost profitability and partner collaboration. The restructure follows the news earlier this year that the firm had moved a number of partners to its lower lockstep ladder.