From left, David Hoyt, Kenneth Rothenberg and Russell Chiappetta. Courtesy photos.

Just a week after Andrews Kurth Kenyon confirmed it would merge, a five-member group of finance lawyers in New York left the Texas-based firm to head for Alston & Bird.

Alston & Bird, an Atlanta-based firm with about 140 lawyers in New York, said this week it had hired three partners, including David Hoyt, Kenneth Rothenberg and Russell Chiappetta, as well as two counsel, Mathew Gray and Jason Cygielman. All arrive from Andrews Kurth, where Hoyt and Rothenberg were partners and Chiappetta, Gray and Cygielman were counsel.

The lawyers specialize in the distressed debt market. Their clients include investment banks and hedge funds purchasing and selling loans and securities of distressed and bankrupt companies.

The partners had long tenures at Andrews Kurth, with Hoyt practicing there for 21 years and Rothenberg for 18 years.

Hoyt declined to discuss the Andrews Kurth merger with Hunton & Williams and any influence it might have had on his exit, preferring to comment on his new firm. “We’re really just excited to talk about the future,” he said. “We explored our options and this is the option we like the best.”

“They have a very collaborative energetic nature, a very strong, large finance practice,” Hoyt said of Alston. Andrews Kurth “was a great place to practice,” Hoyt said, but “we just saw Alston & Bird as an opportunity to take our practice to the next level.”

Rothenberg said the group was impressed with the growth of Alston’s finance practice, as well as its restructuring and hedge fund practices, with which the team will be working closely. “They really mesh with our clients and our practice, they will allow us to grow our practice,” Rothenberg said.

Alston’s finance practice in New York has nine partners and 22 other attorneys, according to the firm. Alston partner Shanell Cramer is the New York-based co-chair of Alston’s finance group.

The new Alston partners declined to name any specific clients or the value of potential business they would be bringing to the firm. However, Hoyt said he anticipates clients will move with them. “We anticipate most, if not all, will join us,” he said.

The group arrived at Alston on March 1, after leaving Andrews Kurth the day before.

While Andrews Kurth over the last several weeks has seen several partner groups depart in Texas for firms such as Katten Muchin & Rosenman, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, White & Case and Shearman & Sterling, the group leaving for Alston & Bird is the first partner group exit from Andrews Kurth’s New York office this year.

Meanwhile, the lateral finance group represents Alston’s first New York partner hires in 2018. The firm has added attorneys in other locations this year, including Washington, D.C., Dallas and Atlanta.

Craig Carpenito, formerly co-chairman of Alston & Bird’s litigation and trial practice group, left the firm in January, after being appointed interim U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey.

Richard Hays, Alston managing partner, said in a statement that “the team gives us an exciting opportunity to expand our finance group and deepen our corporate debt bench strength while adding to our client capabilities in related practices such as bankruptcy and investment products.”

An Andrews Kurth spokeswoman declined to comment on the group exit and any potential effect on merger plans with Hunton & Williams. The combined firm, Hunton Andrews Kurth, will launch on April 2.