Stephen Besen


Allen & Overy has boosted its M&A practice in New York, hiring M&A senior partner Stephen Besen from Shearman & Sterling, the second time the U.K.-based firm has added an M&A senior partner in New York in recent months.

Besen has some 35 years’ experience in a range of transaction-related legal work and a specialty in cross-border deals. He has advised clients on matters that include mergers and tender offers, joint ventures, restructurings and private equity transactions, according to the firm.

Besen’s hire follows the addition of another senior M&A partner in New York. In April, Allen & Overy re-elected to its partnership Paul Burns, who spent the early parts of his career in the firm’s corporate practice but rejoined Allen & Overy after roughly a decade in a variety of in-house counsel roles at large companies. Allen & Overy billed the two partner additions as part of a “strategy for continuing growth” in the New York market.

“Stephen is a well-respected M&A lawyer with deep experience and a proven track record in the market. We are thrilled to have him as part of the team,” Eric Shube, head of Allen & Overy’s U.S. corporate practice, said in a statement.

Besen was recognized in 2008 as a “dealmaker of the year” by The American Lawyer in connection with his work on Saudi Basic Industries Corp.’s $11.6 billion purchase of General Electric Co.’s plastics unit, which he did while he was at Shearman. At the time of the recognition, Besen was already an experienced dealmaker at age 49, but hadn’t represented a Saudi company. And while his client, Sabic, was already a behemoth chemical company, it hadn’t embarked on a proposed deal in the U.S.

That sort of cross-border transactional experience will likely come in handy at Besen’s new firm. Allen & Overy said it expects Besen to leverage his experience in the asset management, industrial, energy and infrastructure industries and to draw on expertise with cross-border deals in places such as China, India, Latin America and the Middle East.

Picking up on that theme, one of Besen’s new colleagues, global co-head of the firm’s corporate practice Richard Browne, said the addition to the partner ranks would complement Allen & Overy’s focus on cross-border deals.

“Stephen has built an impressive M&A practice with considerable cross-border experience that fits very well with our global and U.S. M&A strategies,” Browne said in a statement. “His depth of experience and insight is a great fit for our international practice and a significant addition for our clients.”