Latham & Watkins hires senior Allen & Overy banking partner

stephen-kensellLatham & Watkins has hired Allen & Overy’s (A&O) former banking head Stephen Kensell as a finance partner in London.

Kensell departs after campaigning unsuccessfully to become senior partner at the magic circle firm earlier this year.

Christopher Kandel, global co-chair of Latham’s banking practice, said: “Stephen’s expertise is highly complementary to the firm’s existing finance capabilities.

“As well as bringing a top-notch reputation in leveraged finance, his vast industry knowledge and technical acumen across a range of investment-grade corporate and acquisition finance products will add greater depth to our practice.”

Latham London office managing partner Jay Sadanandan added: “Stephen’s wide-ranging experience at the very top of the profession will further enhance our platform in the City and globally.”

Kensell took over as head of the banking practice alongside Andrew Trahair in May 2008. He was previously head of the global loans group and is dual qualified in the UK and Australia. He joined A&O in 1994 and became a partner four years later.

In December, Kensell emerged as one of the eight partners set to compete for the top management positions, as the firm geared up for leadership elections earlier this year.

However, in February, A&O partners elected the firm’s managing partner Wim Dejonghe as its new senior partner. As well as Kensell, he also saw off competition from dispute resolution practice head Tim House and competition partner Michel Struys, to replace David Morley as the firm’s senior partner.

Dejonghe was elected for a four-year term, which began on 1 May.

Kensell is the latest in a string of high profile finance hires for Latham in London.

In June, Latham hired Dechert real estate finance partner Jeremy Trinder and Ashurst global co-head of regulation Rob Moulton.

In July, the US firm added GE Capital real estate counsel Quentin Gwyer as a partner in its new real estate finance practice. The same month, it also hired Ashurst restructuring partner Simon Baskerville.