Freshfields City finance partner exits for Bakers as part of trio of hires

Baker McKenzie has recruited Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer finance partner Geoff O’Dea for its London office.

O’Dea, who specialises in restructuring and insolvency and acquisition finance work, made partner at Freshfields in 2012.

In addition to O’Dea, Bakers is also adding two other partners to its City base, including another for its finance practice.

Travers senior counsel Matthew Smith joins Bakers as a partner in its finance practice, while Morrison & Foerster counsel Sue McLean will be a partner in the London information technology and communications practice.

Bakers’ London head of banking and finance, Nick Tostivin, said: ”Geoff will work closely with our restructuring experts to build out our capabilities even further. Both Geoff and Matt will also play key roles in boosting our acquisition and leveraged finance practices, and I’m looking forward to working with both of them as we continue to grow the team.”

While at Freshfields, O’Dea acted on British steel trader Stemcor’s $2.24bn (£1.36bn) debt restructuring. He was part of the team acting on restructuring aspects of the deal, in what was a first-time mandate from the company.

News of O’Dea’s hire follows a restructuring of Freshfields’ global finance practice earlier this year in a bid to boost profitability.

The firm refocused the practice around a narrower range of products following a structural review last year. Legal Week previously reported that six finance partners left Freshfields at the end of April, while two others were set to be de-equitised.

In March, Legal Week reported that the firm had pulled out of aviation finance as part of a wider shake-up of finance, with City aviation finance partner Rob Murphy joining CDB Aviation Lease Finance – the aircraft leasing unit of China Development Bank – as general counsel and chief operating officer.

Five associates from Murphy’s team joined Holland & Knight’s London office.

Other recent hires for Bakers in London include the recruitment of a seven-lawyer team in January from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), including corporate partner Will Holder and employment head Carl Richards. Holder and Richards joined Bakers along with five associates.

In April, Bakers announced its London revenues grew by more than 20% during the last financial year, while profit for distribution increased by 48%.

London revenue grew from £145m to £176m for the year ending 30 June 2016, while profit for distribution grew from £47m to £70m.

Commenting on the  latest appointments, Bakers London managing partner Alex Chadwick said: ”Their combined experience and expertise will not only enhance our existing client offering but also mark another step forward in bolstering and growing key practice areas for the firm.”