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Reed Smith Adds Dealmakers To Global Corporate Group

Rhyne, Phillpott, Acosta and Scharnberg join Global Corporate Group as partners

March 22, 2021, HOUSTON –Reed Smith today announced the addition of four partners – Edward Rhyne, Robert Phillpott, Efren Acosta and Ron Scharnberg – to its Global Corporate Group in its 70 lawyer Houston office. The team brings decades of private equity, middle-market mergers & acquisitions (M&A), and business tax capabilities, including a wealth of experience in the Texas market.

The group represents all parties in the full spectrum of private-equity and M&A transactions, from buyers, sellers and management teams to private equity funds and their investors. They service a wide range of industries and sectors, including aviation, agriculture, construction, energy, financial services, food and hospitality, industrial manufacturing, professional sports, recycling, technology, and many others. All were formerly partners with Baker Botts.

“We continue to acquire substantial corporate talent in Texas and across the Reed Smith platform,” said James Tandler, Chair of the firm’s U.S. Corporate Group. “This team of Efren, Bobby, Ed and Ron brings additional high-level talent in the area of private equity, middle-market M&A, and sophisticated business tax counselling, particularly in structuring complex transactions,” Tandler added, “and they expand the breadth of our sizeable Latin America offering.”

Rhyne’s practice focuses on private equity and other privately held firms, including family offices and family-owned businesses as well as fund formation. Phillpott’s practice involves developing tax structures that facilitate tax efficient transactions for all parties. Acosta concentrates on private company M&A with an emphasis on private equity transactions.  Scharnberg’s practice includes tax advising and structuring for domestic and cross-border/international M&A and cross-border/international tax planning for private equity and public companies.

“Our team had a choice of firms, but selected Reed Smith for its broad base and global private equity practice, which is committed to growth,” Rhyne said. “We also have a comfort level with Reed Smith because so many of our former colleagues have joined the firm over the past few years, and they and their practices are thriving.” 

Edward Rhyne

Rhyne has served as general counsel of two publicly traded companies, has been a member of a private equity firm and has three decades of experience in BigLaw. He handles private equity and M&A transactions and represents sponsors and investors in the formation of PE funds, complex investments and co-investment vehicles.

Rhyne has deep roots in Houston and is well-known to investment bankers, private-equity firms and others in the Houston business community. In addition to serving as a partner at Baker Botts from 2017 until 2021, over his more than 34 years of practicing law, Mr. Rhyne has been a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, Haynes and Boone and Gardere Wynne Sewell. He also served as EVP and General Counsel at IFCO Systems N.V. (and its predecessor – PalEx, Inc.) from 1997 until 2001 and as the initial General Counsel at Quanta Services, Inc. in 1998. He earned an LL.M. in Taxation from New York University and a J.D. from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. 

Robert Phillpott

Phillpott is widely viewed as one of the top tax practitioners in the United States. Working closely with Rhyne and Acosta to support their private equity practices, Phillpott’s primary focus is on tax planning and structuring for private equity and M&A transactions. He also counsels tax-free organizations, and advises on spin-offs, divestitures, joint ventures, restructurings, debt and equity offerings, as well as the formation of corporations and other business entities.

“We look forward to being part of an expanding corporate and private equity practice in Texas and across the U.S.,” Phillpott said. “Everyone we have met during the process of coming on board has been true to Reed Smith’s widely known reputation as a collegial firm with a great culture.”

Phillpott was a partner at Baker Botts from 2017 to 2021 and a partner and associate at Norton Rose Fulbright from 1999 to 2017, where he served as head of the firm’s tax department. He earned his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University and is a magna cum laude graduate of Loyola Law School.

Efren Acosta

Acosta works with private equity firms domestically and internationally in connection with mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, venture capital investments and private placements.  He also regularly advises clients concerning general corporate matters. Fluent in Spanish, Acosta’s practice includes work on matters in Latin America, and includes representing both U.S. and Latin American clients on deals in the region.

“Reed Smith is a great fit for our practice,” Acosta said. “What we do, our client base, the clients we work for and the transactions we handle are all very similar to what Reed Smith does, so it’s a move that makes a lot of sense for us, the firm and our clients.”

From 2017-2021, Acosta was a partner at Baker Botts, a partner and associate at Norton Rose Fulbright from 2006 to 2017, and an associate at Locke Liddell LLP from 2000 to 2006. He received his J.D from the University of Houston Law Center, magna cum laude.

Ron Scharnberg

Scharnberg represents clients in a wide range of tax matters, with particular emphasis on federal tax planning and structuring of domestic and cross-border/international M&A, restructurings, spin-offs, divestitures, joint ventures, investments, financing transactions, and business operations. He represents publicly traded and privately held companies and private equity funds and their portfolio companies. He has experience in a wide range of industries, including in the energy sector related to acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, tax partnerships, the Section 45Q tax credit for carbon capture and sequestration, and federal fuel excise tax issues. 

“We are bringing with us a roster of new clients, who are excited about our new global platform and who will benefit greatly from the breadth of services at Reed Smith,” said Scharnberg, who often collaborates with Rhyne and Acosta’s private equity practices.

Scharnberg was a partner at Baker Botts from 2017 to 2021 and a partner and associate at Norton Rose Fulbright from 2006 to 2017. He is a 2006 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law with high honors.

“This entrepreneurial foursome has a stellar reputation, and their team fits perfectly with our culture of collaboration,” said Houston Office Managing Partner Kenneth Broughton. “We are thrilled to achieve critical mass in Houston with our private equity and M&A practices, which is a key area of expansion in all three of our Texas offices.”

Reed Smith’s Global Corporate Group covers all aspects of corporate and commercial law and spans the firm’s 30 offices. Since early 2020, the firm has added eight partners to the U.S. Corporate Group, including four in the firm’s New York office: Kevin Kay, whose practice focuses on executive compensation; Steven Aschettino, an e-commerce lawyer focused on payments and blockchain technology; Aryeh Edelman a leading lawyer in the emerging area of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs); and Angelo Ciavarella, a partner with more than two decades of experience helping private equity funds and other businesses construct efficient tax strategies. In Century City, Mitchell Cohen and Ashok Mukhey also joined with a focus on entrainment and media transactions; and Nigel Stark, a technology lawyer who advises on tech transactions and outsourcing, joined in Dallas.

About Reed Smith

Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. With an inclusive culture and innovative mindset, we deliver smarter, more creative legal services that drive better outcomes for our clients. Our deep industry knowledge, long-standing relationships and collaborative structure make us the go-to partner for complex disputes, transactions, and regulatory matters. Now celebrating more than 140 years of service, our firm spans 30 offices with 3,000 people, including 1,700 lawyers.

For more information, please visit www.reedsmith.com.

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