The co-head of Shearman & Sterling’s private capital industry group, Brien Wassner, has joined Sidley Austin in New York as a partner in its rapidly expanding M&A and private equity practice.
For nearly two decades, Wassner has worked with private equity funds, hedge funds, infrastructure funds, and other financial institutions and institutional investors on a wide array of domestic and cross-border M&A transactions. Those included leveraged buyouts, joint ventures, divestitures, carve-outs, and other corporate matters.
“New York is a big piece of the puzzle and Brien is a big piece of that puzzle and of that move in New York,” said Brian Fahrney, co-leader of Sidley’s global M&A and private equity practice and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.
“We think he’s going to be an absolutely integral part of the plan here in New York,” he said.
Sidley’s significant growth and investments in the private equity sector over the past couple of years inside and outside New York, as well as inside and outside the U.S. was the driver in his decision to make the move to Sidley, Wassner said, noting that he and the firm share some of the same clients and relationships.
Some firms say we’re growing private equity capabilities, Wassner said, “I think it was clear here that they’re not just saying it, they really are doing it and that was a big differentiator for me.”
Sidley has in recent years grown its private equity practice in a number of areas in Europe and the U.S., said Brian Fahrney, co-leader of Sidley’s global M&A and private equity practice and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.
Sidley has added Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld private equity rainmakers Adam Weinstein and Tony Feuerstein to its New York office as well as Davis Polk & Wardwell’s John Butler. Also, the firm added Cooley partners Mehdi Khodadad, Joshua DuClos, and Eric Kauffman and Goodwin Procter’s Jared Jensen in San Francisco. The firm has also recently expanded in London, adding Eleanor Shanks from Proskauer Rose.
Wassner began his career in Big Law at Dewey & LeBoeuf but left to join Winston & Strawn ahead of the former’s bankruptcy in 2012.
Wassner then joined Jones Day as a partner in its private equity practice group in New York in 2013. Two years later, he decamped to Milbank and then to Shearman & Sterling in 2017 as a partner in its M&A practice.
Earlier this year, he led Shearman’s team advising TowerBrook Capital Partners, an investment management fund with more than $12.4 billion of assets under management, in its investment in CAVU Investment Partners, a new advisory firm formed in partnership with LibreMax Capital.
Wassner’s move to Sidley was brokered by Sabina Lippman, partner and co-founder of global legal recruitment firm Lippman Jungers.
Sidley’s capabilities will allow him to work with clients and cover almost anything that can come up on a matter across a spectrum of practices, he said.
This full-service offering is a differentiating factor from other firms’ private equity offerings and is one in which clients have taken note. “We’re getting into conversations with clients and potential clients that we didn’t previously get into and so there’s no doubt that the market has noticed what we’re doing,” Fahrney said.