King & Spalding has continued its lateral partner hiring spree by recruiting bond lawyer Matt Nichols from Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein after adding Aaron Lipson from the SEC and, earlier this week, Pete Robinson from Troutman Sanders.
Meanwhile, the debt finance duo of Chris Molen and Chad Werner left King & Spalding last week for McGuireWoods, where both are partners.
Nichols had spent almost 25 years at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan until Parker Poe lured him away two years ago to build its new Atlanta office, soon after Sutherland’s trans-Atlantic merger to become Eversheds Sutherland. He jumped to King & Spalding on Jan. 7.
His departure leaves Parker Poe’s Atlanta office with nine local lawyers.
“It’s King & Spalding,” Nichols said. “I’ve been an Atlanta lawyer my whole career. If they want to talk, you talk.”
The more he talked to the King & Spalding lawyers, Nichols said, “the more impressed I was about their strategy-specific ideas for plugging me into that strategy and the energy they brought to it.”
Nichols said his bond practice is mostly for Georgia deals, but he plans to expand that scope at King & Spalding. “It’s not just me bringing over my clients and doing what I’ve done for the last 25 years,” he said.
Infrastructure and health care are two areas that lend themselves to public finance expertise, Nichols said, because tax-exempt municipal bonds are often used to fund such projects. King & Spalding’s health care practice, he said, offers opportunities for his practice and “strategic value” opportunities for his health care clients.
“Matt has a well-earned reputation in the market,” said King & Spalding’s Atlanta managing partner, Josh Kamin. “[His] skill set and capabilities are essential to our clients’ need for public finance expertise—in particular our growing base of infrastructure and health care industry clients throughout the U.S. and here in the Southeast.”
Nichols declined to name clients, but, according to public records, they have included WellStar Health System, Duke University Health System and Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority.
He was bond counsel to WellStar for an $875 million bond refinancing in 2017, which was used to refinance debt from the purchase of additional Georgia hospitals and expansion. The large offering included multiple issuers, such as the Fulton County Development Authority, Cobb County Kennestone Hospital Authority, Griffin-Spalding County Hospital Authority and LaGrange-Troup County Hospital Authority.
Nichols also worked on Atlanta’s two big stadium deals. He advised the Georgia World Congress Center Authority on public financing options for Mercedes-Benz Stadium and represented the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority on negotiating ownership and financing agreements with the Atlanta Braves for SunTrust Park.
Arrivals at McGuireWoods
When Molen, a veteran lending lawyer, joined King & Spalding at age 60 from Paul Hastings six years ago, he told the Daily Report: “This will be my last firm.”
At that point, he’d spent almost two decades at Paul Hastings after starting his career at Powell Goldstein (now part of Bryan Cave).
Molen laughed when reminded of his comment. “I can say unequivocally this time that that’s the truth,” he said.
He said he had planned to retire from King & Spalding in the next few years, but McGuireWoods made him and Werner a deal too good to refuse. “It was an attractive opportunity worth taking at this time,” Molen said. “I feel rejuvenated, energized and excited to help build out their local office.”
Molen said he has known McGuire’s Atlanta managing partner, Chris Greene, who is also a finance lawyer, for years. “McGuire has a really strong finance practice, with a similar national footprint and size to King & Spalding–and a nice local concentration,” he said. “My clients don’t have to learn who McGuireWoods is.”
With Molen and Werner, McGuireWoods has 32 lawyers in its 20-year old Atlanta office, according to its website.
Werner, 44, has practiced with Molen since the more senior lawyer recruited him to Paul Hastings from King & Spalding as a midlevel associate in 2011. “I’ve enjoyed practicing with Chris so much I’m happy to join him here,” Werner said, noting that McGuireWoods has a high concentration of debt finance lawyers.
Molen said he primarily represents lenders, including banks, finance companies and alternate lenders, in debt finance deals. Werner said his practice is more an even split of doing work for borrowers and lenders.
Molen and Greene have represented J.P. Morgan, SunTrust and other large lenders, according to information from their King & Spalding bios.