Duane Morris is a launching a dedicated London private equity practice with the hire of Kirkland & Ellis partner Pierfrancesco Carbone, The Am Law Daily has learned.
Carbone is set to join Duane Morris on Monday, and has been tasked with developing its funds offering throughout Europe. He will become the tenth partner in the Philadelphia-based firm’s London office, which opened in 2000.
George Nemphos, Duane Morris’s Baltimore managing partner and global corporate chair, says that Carbone’s arrival is “just the start” of wider plans that will see additional private equity partners recruited “in short order.”
“We’re pretty well known in the U.S. for midmarket private equity, but we so far haven’t replicated that success in Europe,” he says. “We’ve been in London for a while—-we’ve just been a bit quiet. We see this as a great opportunity to reannounce our presence to the market and go from being a hidden gem to just a gem.”
Carbone’s practice focuses on advising U.S. and European private equity funds on midmarket leveraged buyouts, venture investments, buy-and-build deals, and public-to-private transactions. At Kirkland, where he became a partner in 2008, his clients included Apax Partners, Bain Capital, Montagu Private Equity, Francisco Partners, and Change Capital Partners. (Apax is an investor in ALM Media, which owns and publishes The American Lawyer and The Am Law Daily.) Carbone has also represented a number of portfolio companies. In 2010 he led the Kirkland team that advised Bain on its $1.63 billion acquisition of Trinseo, a plastic and polymer producer then known as Styron.
Carbone also recently represented Change Capital on its acquisition of a majority stake in pizza chain owner Vesevo; Apax on its bid for Luxembourg-based KBL Private Bank, which was ultimately acquired for €1 billion ($1.3 billion) by Qatari-backed Precision Capital; and Francisco on its mobile marketing joint venture with Italian digital entertainment provider Buongiorno.
“I was not entirely happy at Kirkland for a number of reasons,” says Carbone, who spent six years as an associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before joining Kirkland in 2006. “It’s a great firm, but it became a bit too institutional. Duane Morris is a young, dynamic firm that places a lot of importance in individual decisions. I was concerned about the commitment they have [to build a private equity practice]—lots of firms say these kind of things then don’t act—but we already have plans to bring in more partners.”
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