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Freshfields Appoints US-Based Attorneys to M&A and Leveraged Finance Practices

Global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer announced today the appointment of two US-based attorneys—Mitchell Presser, who becomes head of Freshfields’ US M&A practice, and James Douglas, who joins as head of the firm’s US leveraged finance practice—as partners in the firm’s New York office. Recognizing clients’ increasing need for international experience in global dealmaking, Freshfields makes the appointments as a major step in the expansion of its transactional practice in the United States.

“Today’s M&A market is defined by increasingly complex international deals, and the addition of Mitchell and Jim solidifies our position as the first choice for these kinds of transactions,” said Edward Braham, head of Freshfields’ global corporate practice. “Today marks an important milestone in the development of our US practice, where we have already established strength in arbitration, litigation and global investigations, as well as antitrust, M&A, tax and finance.”

Presser, who joins as head of the firm’s US M&A practice, comes to Freshfields following seven years as a founding partner of the private equity firm Paine + Partners. Previously, Presser was a partner with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he worked on numerous multi-billion dollar M&A transactions including QVC’s bid for Paramount and Morgan Stanley’s acquisition of TransMontaigne, as well as developing a strong presence in private equity, including acting on Kinder Morgan’s leveraged buyout. “Transactions are international today, and Freshfields offers a global platform that enables clients to maximize value, whether that comes from being adept at navigating conflicting law and market practices, or where success involves the synthesis of multiple disciplines across multiple geographies,” said Presser. “As a client I saw that advantage first hand. The firm has a unique opportunity to build on its recent success through growth in the US, and I look forward to helping lead that growth.”

Freshfields’ US-based M&A group has advised on more than $60 billion in deals to date in 2014. The firm is consistently ranked at the top of Mergermarket’s league tables for cross-border M&A.

“These appointments demonstrate our continued commitment to strategic investments in the US and enhance our status as the international law firm of choice for corporations, private equity firms and financial institutions,” said Matthew Herman, head of Freshfields’ US corporate practice. “With their world-class knowledge and experience, Mitchell and Jim are ideal partners to assist in this next phase of our US development.”

Douglas, who has been ranked in the top tier for acquisition finance by Chambers, formerly served as head of the banking and finance practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Notable transactions that Jim has acted on include the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco, Norfolk Southern’s acquisition of Conrail, Colgate-Palmolive’s cross-border acquisition of Kolynos, as well as numerous transactions for financial sponsors, including for Kelso in connection with the leveraged buyouts of Endo, Nortek and Adesa. “Whether deals are financed out of the US or involve technology developed here, the US remains the key market for leveraged finance,” said Douglas. “Our global finance presence allows us to offer a cutting edge but jurisdictionally agnostic view, which will provide benefits to our clients no matter where their financing needs arise.”

David Trott, global head of the firm’s finance practice, added, “Jim’s technical abilities and market reputation are second to none. He immediately gives us the ability to handle —at the highest possible level of quality — syndicated and general bank finance transactions in the US while also strengthening our US leveraged finance capability in London. He represents the first step towards achieving our ambition to build a more enhanced corporate and leveraged finance practice in the US.”

“Mitchell and Jim are wonderful additions to our growing US practice,” added Adam Siegel, Freshfields’ regional managing partner for the US and co-head of its global investigations practice. “Jim’s deep experience in US-based acquisition finance provides a natural fit for our global financial investor clients and provides yet another way the US-based team can now help those clients. Mitchell brings to us the business experience of a private equity principal combined with decades of experience counselling on the world’s most important mergers and acquisitions. The benefits to our clients in the US and throughout the world of these appointments are enormous and we are proud to have Jim and Mitchell as our partners.”

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