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Freshfields Hires Cleary’s Klingsberg in Push for U.S. M&A

Oct. 25, 2019, 9:55 PM

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has hired M&A lawyer Ethan Klingsberg to lead its push to join the top tier of U.S. dealmaking advisers.

Klingsberg and three members of his team at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP are joining Freshfields in New York, the firm said Friday in a statement.

At Cleary where he was a partner, Klingsberg’s work included advising insurer XL Group Ltd. in its $15.2 billion acquisition last year by Axa SA, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The previous year, he advised Staples Inc. on its $6.2 billion sale to Sycamore Partners LLC.

Klingsberg has also represented Alphabet Inc.’s Google, including on the $2.9 billion sale of its Motorola Mobility phone unit to Lenovo Group Ltd. in 2014.

Freshfields ranks 14th this year among law firms handling M&A transactions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its 114 deals totaled more than $205 billion, while Cleary Gottlieb ranked seventh with 67 transactions amounting to $281 billion, the data show.

Both trailed Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, which led all law firms with a 13.8% market share consisting of 51 transactions valued at $520 billion.

Klingsberg, who earned is law degree at Yale Law School, started at Cleary in 1994.

Creative, Practical

“Ethan is the kind of senior M&A lawyer you want in the boardroom when the tough decisions are being made,” said Evercore Inc. Senior Managing Director Gregory Lee. “He’s both creative and practical, and can speak with authority based on nearly three decades of experience.”

Making the move with Klingsberg are: M&A litigator Meredith Kotler; corporate governance adviser Pamela Marcogliese; and M&A adviser Paul Tiger, who was also involved in the Google-Lenovo deal, according to the statement.

“We are excited to be joining Freshfields’ blue chip platform,” Klingsberg said in the statement. “The service that we and our new colleagues at Freshfields will bring to clients promises to be awesome.”

‘Truly Strategic’

The U.S. is at the heart of the London-based firm’s business, said Freshfields Global Senior Partner Edward Braham.

The hiring comes as M&A transactions have slowed.

“The thing with truly strategic moves is that the precise timing doesn’t matter,” Braham said in an interview. “We have been striving to make this step for 20 years.”

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

To contact the reporter on this story:Ed Hammond in New York at ehammond12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:Liana Baker at lbaker75@bloomberg.net; Michael Hytha, Matthew Monks