(Photo by LendingMemo.com, via Flickr)
Continental Breakfast: your daily update on what’s happening in Europe.
Law firms in the U.K. could soon face a glut of insolvency and restructuring work, with data suggesting that thousands of companies in the travel sector are at risk of going bust.
Insolvency consulting firm Begbies Traynor says that 2,679 U.K. travel industry businesses are in significant distress—a rise of 10 percent over the past three months. More than a quarter of all U.K. travel agents and tour operators are currently listed as being at risk of insolvency by Company Watch, which assesses the financial health of companies.
Companies are struggling due to rising costs and increased terrorism fears, which is causing travelers to stay away from traditionally popular vacation areas such as Egypt and Turkey, reports City A.M.
Earlier this week, cruise company All Leisure Holidays stopped trading and called in administrators, leaving hundreds of vacationers stranded.
The U.K. tourism sector is benefitting from the weakening of the British pound since the Brexit vote, however. National tourism agency VisitBritain forecasts that more than 38 million tourists will travel to the U.K. in 2017, spending over 24 billion pounds ($29.7 billion)—an increase of 8 percent on 2016.
KWM Europe Exits Continue
It’s a good time to be a London legal recruiter, with partners continuing to flee King & Wood Mallesons’ European arm as it heads towards administration.
Three more firms announced yesterday that they had picked up lawyers from the fast disintegrating practice.
Debevoise & Plimpton has hired KWM private equity consultant Simon Witney, who formerly co-led the funds team and was a member of the management committee at legacy SJ Berwin, the London-based practice that combined with KWM in 2013. Witney will join Debevoise’s London office as a consultant later this month.
Baker McKenzie has captured a seven-lawyer team, including corporate partner Will Holder, who leads KWM Europe’s China group, and employment head Carl Richards. The pair are set to join Baker with five associates in the coming weeks.
Perhaps most interestingly, Stephenson Harwood has recruited three KWM Europe corporate partners. The group includes former U.K. private equity co-head Jonathan Pittal, whose shock resignation from KWM Europe in October alongside three other senior partners led to the collapse of the firm’s planned 14 million pounds ($17.3 million) recapitalization.
Scores of partners have subsequently left the firm, which last month filed a notice of intention to appoint an administrator.
The American Lawyer recently published an in-depth feature looking at what has caused KWM Europe’s downfall. You can read that article here.
London Finance Heavyweight To Work For Two Firms…At The Same Time
In what surely be a Big Law first, Ropes & Gray consultant Maurice Allen has agreed to take on an additional consulting position at DLA Piper, meaning he will be working for both firms at the same time.
Formerly the senior partner of Ropes’ London office, Allen retired from the U.S. firm’s partnership at the end of 2016, but remained with the firm to help it expand its global key client program.
In a surprise move, Allen will join DLA next month in a similar consulting role, focusing on developing the firm’s financial services sector group.
Allen is well qualified, as one of the U.K. legal market’s most prodigious practice builders. He established Weil Gotshal & Manges U.K. outpost in 1996, moved to White & Case to launch its London leveraged finance practice in 2000, then had a brief two-year stint at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before founding Ropes’ London base in 2010.
A Ropes spokesperson told Legal Week that the firm was “comfortable” with the arrangement, so long as the consultancies operate on “a conflict-free basis.”