Herbert Smith Freehills takes four-partner WFW aviation team including practice head

Four Watson Farley & Williams partners, including aviation head Rex Rosales, have left the firm to join Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF).

Heavyweight partner and aviation sector head Rex Rosales is joining HSF after eight years at Watson Farley. He joined in 2010 from Reed Smith, where he had led the transport finance team since joining from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2007.

Rosales (pictured) joins alongside fellow City aviation partner Jahnavi Ramachandran, who also joined from Reed Smith in 2010. She came over as an associate and was made up to partner three years later.

The team is rounded out by Singapore partner duo Siva Subramaniam and Samuel Kolehmainen, who will join HSF’s local base. Subramaniam also joined Watson Farley’s City base from Reed Smith in 2010, and relocated to Singapore in 2012, while Kolehmainen has been a partner in Watson Farley’s Singapore office since joining in 2016 from Clifford Chance, where he was a senior associate.

HSF global finance, projects and infrastructure head Jason Ricketts said: “With unprecedented investment levels in aviation and other transport, infrastructure and projects across the globe, strengthening our asset finance practice makes good business sense for us and our clients.

“A key strength the team will bring is aviation finance, where they are among the leading practitioners in the market. They will complement our asset finance practice in Australia, making the firm’s offering in this sector a truly global practice and mirroring the global market.”

The exits will leave Watson Farley with four aviation partners in London and one in Singapore.

In a statement, the firm said: “We can confirm that Rex, Jahnavi, Siva and Samuel have given the firm notice of their resignation from the partnership. Aviation is a core component of our global transport group’s offering and we remain absolutely committed to the sector as well as the group’s ongoing expansion worldwide.

“Watson Farley retains talented aviation partners across our international network, including in London and Singapore. It will be business as usual for our highly-regarded aviation practices in continental Europe, the US, Middle East and Asia-Pacific, which are wholly unaffected by this move, including our newly-formed German practice in the sector.”

Watson Farley recently added an aviation finance partner to its Munich office with the hire of Norton Rose Fulbright of counsel Jonathan Mullender, while in Singapore, the firm recently agreed a new formal law alliance with local firm Wong Tan & Molly Lim after the breakup of its previous Singapore relationship in 2016, when it ended a five-year joint law venture with local firm Asia Practice.

Last November, the firm posted a 13% revenue increase for the first half of the financial year after taking in £76.1m for the first six months of the financial year.