Kirkland-and-Ellis-offices-Gherkin-St-Mary-Axe_shutterstock_1104995042 Credit: Shutterstock

Kirkland & Ellis private equity partners Gavin Gordon and David Arnold have quit the firm’s London base for rival Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Gordon was ranked as one of 2018′s busiest dealmakers according to Mergermarket rankings earlier this year.

The Kirkland duo will be reunited with former colleague Claire McDaid in the U.S. firm’s London office. McDaid joined Willkie in 2014 from Kirkland to launch a private equity office at the firm.

Gordon and Arnold spent nine years as partners at Kirkland, after moving from Ashurst in 2010.

Willkie chairman Steven Gartner said in a statement that “Gavin and David, two well-established leaders in the market, are a terrific addition to our premier private equity platform and to our London office.”

The moves are rare departures for Kirkland & Ellis’s London base, which has been bolstering its bench strength in recent years. It hired private equity heavyweight Adrian Maguire from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer earlier this year, and brought in Allen & Overy partner Nicola Dagg to launch an intellectual property practice in 2018.

“We appreciate Gavin and David’s contributions to the firm and wish them all success in the future,” a Kirkland spokesperson said about the departing partners.