Bloomberg Law
May 15, 2020, 9:51 PM

Paine Schwartz Taps Kirkland Partner to Fill Top Legal Role

Brian Baxter
Brian Baxter

Paine Schwartz Partners LLC, a private equity firm focused on sustainable food chain investments, has plucked a partner from Kirkland & Ellis to be its new top lawyer.

Renata Lombardi Malavazzi joined the New York-based financial services outfit this month as general counsel and chief compliance officer. Her hire hadn’t been publicly announced by Paine Schwartz.

Malavazzi, who was raised in São Paulo, Brazil, is a private equity and mergers and acquisitions expert. She joined Kirkland in 2011 after spending almost two years as an associate at Brazilian law firm Souza, Cescon Avedissian, Barrieu e Flesch, according to her LinkedIn profile. The two firms have often worked together on transactions in Latin America.

In late 2017, Malavazzi joined 122 other Kirkland lawyers who were promoted to the firm’s large non-equity partnership tier that year. Paine Schwartz, which last year raised a $1.4 billion food chain fund, is a client of Kirkland, a firm known for its private equity prowess.

Bloomberg Law reported in January on Kirkland representing Paine Schwartz agricultural subsidiary Verdesian Life Sciences LLC in an ongoing investment dispute in Delaware over their $314 million acquisition in 2014 of Specialty Fertilizer Products LLC. Paine Schwartz took control of Verdesian in 2012.

Malavazzi didn’t respond to a request for comment about her new role at Paine Schwartz, which adopted its current name in February 2017, having formerly been known as Paine & Partners.

She succeeds Gerald Adler, a former corporate and securities partner at New York’s Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman who joined the buyout firm as its general counsel and COO in 2012. Adler, who left Paine Schwartz earlier this year, didn’t respond to a request for comment about his departure.

Other In-House Recruits

Malavazzi isn’t the only Kirkland partner leaving private practice for the financial services sector.

Eric Yeager, a commercial litigator in Kirkland’s Chicago office, left the firm last month to become a managing director at litigation financier Kerberos Capital Management LLC. Kerberos is backed by prominent Windy City litigator Joseph Siprut, who’s also an actor, entrepreneur, and wrestler.

More recent in-house additions in the financial services space include:

  • Wedbush Securities Inc. announced May 12 its hire of Michael McMaster as chief compliance officer in Los Angeles. McMaster, an attorney who spent the past decade as a divisional compliance leader at The Bank of New York Mellon Corp., reports to Wedbush general counsel Andrew Druch.
  • Wirecard AG, a German financial services and internet technology company, said May 8 that James Freis Jr. would come aboard July 1 as an executive board member and chief compliance officer. Bloomberg News reported that Freis’ hire follows an accounting scandal at Wirecard. Freis, a former counsel at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, most recently served as Deutsche Börse AG’s compliance chief.
  • National Bank Holdings Corp., the Denver-based parent of NBH Bank, disclosed in a May 5 securities filing that chief administrative office and general counsel Zsolt Besskó will depart July 1. Besskó, NBH’s legal chief since 2013, will be replaced by associate general counsel Angela Petrucci. Besskó said in a statement he’s leaving for an “opportunity in the real estate industry on the East Coast.”
  • Blucora, an Irving, Texas-based financial technology company, promoted chief legal officer Ann Bruder to chief administrative officer and corporate development officer April 20. The new job titles for Bruder joined several other Blucora executives as part of an interim office of the CEO in January after the abrupt departure of former president and CEO John Clendening following a dispute over his authority.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at