The partners joining Gibson Dunn’s mergers and acquisitions and private equity practices are George Stamas in New York and Washington, D.C., and Mark Director, Andrew Herman and Alexander Fine in Washington.
All four, who joined Gibson Dunn on Wednesday and Thursday, were longtime partners of Kirkland, including three who had been partners there for 14 years or more.
The group brings a large portfolio of recent M&A and buyout experience.
In the last two years the partners have represented Morgan Stanley as a financial adviser in a $14.6 billion merger of energy and utility companies and advised on the $5.3 billion acquisition of Avista by Hydro One Limited, another utility company combination. The partners have also advised CEB Inc. on a $2.6 billion sale to Gartner; and represented New York private equity firm Crestview Partners in acquiring Accuride Corp., a supplier of vehicle partners, for $124.5 million.
They have repeatedly advised middle-market private equity firm MidOcean Partners, in which Stamas is an executive board member, on acquisition and sale deals.
Other past clients include Exelon, Washington Gas Light, Goldman Sachs, Berkshire Hathaway, MetLife and FTI Consulting.
Stamas, who was not immediately available to comment, said in a statement that he has “long admired Gibson Dunn’s culture and collaborative approach to servicing clients.”
In a brief interview, Director, 60, said the four partners were “enormously grateful for their career” at Kirkland and “extremely happy about our time there.”
When asked what prompted their exits, Director was not specific. He noted the partners had worked alongside and on opposite sides of deals with lawyers at their new firm. “Over the years we’ve gotten to know the people at Gibson Dunn,” Director said.
“I don’t think it’s a question of advantage or disadvantage, just a decision, at this point in our practice and our career,” that Gibson Dunn “was a good fit for us,” he said.
Both Director and Stephen Glover, co-chair of Gibson Dunn’s M&A practice, declined to put a figure on the group’s book of business. But Director said, “A number of our longtime clients have indicated an interest in continuing to work with us.”
In an interview, Glover said Gibson Dunn has respect not only for their skills as lawyers “but also for their success in building a strong business base.”
“We’re constantly thinking about ways to expand and develop all of our practices, including the corporate practice, and at some point, we had the idea, we should talk to George and the rest of the group there and see whether we might get a conversation going,” Glover said.
Glover said the group has strong relationships with private equity firms and a number of public and private companies, and they are known as high-profile advisers in the energy and utility space. “It’s very complimentary to some of the practice areas we’ve been focusing on,” he said.
Stamas was a senior partner in Kirkland’s corporate group since 2002 and will now be a senior partner at Gibson Dunn, the firm said. Stamas, who focuses on public company and private equity M&A and corporate securities transactions, is a partner of Monumental Partners, which controls the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, and is a partner of the Baltimore Orioles.
Director, a partner with Kirkland & Ellis since 2002, represents public companies and private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies in M&A, leveraged buyouts, spin-offs, minority investments and joint ventures.
Herman, who joined Kirkland & Ellis in 2002 and became a partner there in 2004, advises private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies on leveraged buyouts, growth equity investments and other transactions. Fine, previously a partner with Kirkland since 2010, advises private equity sponsors and public companies in strategic M&A, leveraged buyouts, minority investments, and joint ventures.
The departures come amid a hiring spree for Kirkland in 2018, including most recently adding Kenneth Muller, the former co-chair of Morrison & Foerster’s private equity group, as a partner in San Francisco. ALM reported last week that Steven Napolitano, the former co-chair of DLA Piper’s U.S. private equity practice, and Brendan Head, the co-managing partner of its Chicago office, were poised to join Kirkland.
Earlier this month, Kirkland hired Ranesh Ramanathan, the former deputy general counsel of private equity giant and longtime Kirkland client Bain Capital LP, to bolster its Boston office, and the firm added Allen & Overy global intellectual property head Nicola Dagg.
In further power grabs in the legal market, Kirkland has recruited two partners from Cravath Swaine & Moore this year, including Sandra Goldstein, a former head of litigation at the firm, and dealmaker Eric Schiele.
A Kirkland spokeswoman said the firm wishes the four partners the best in the future. “We thank George, Mark, Alex and Andrew for their many contributions to our firm and the Washington office,” the firm said.
According to The American Lawyer’s latest law firm financial rankings, Kirkland’s average profits per equity partner last year reached about $4.7 million, while Gibson Dunn’s stood at about $3.24 million.