Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL

 

Holland & Knight has expanded its corporate transaction practice with the hire of Paul Aguggia, the former CEO of Clifton Bancorp who was also previously chairman of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

Aguggia has more than 25 years of experience representing financial institutions on corporate transactions and regulatory issues, as well as on corporate governance, strategic planning, investor relations, securities reporting and compliance, risk management, and executive and board compensation matters, Holland & Knight said. He will be a partner based in New York.

Paul Aguggia

Aguggia is also a veteran of high-stakes mergers in both the law firm and banking contexts. In May 2008, he was one of the name partners of Washington-based legal boutique Muldoon Murphy & Aguggia when Atlanta-based Kilpatrick Stockton acquired the firm, adding a team of 22 lawyers to the 500 the larger firm had. Aguggia reportedly took a hard line in the merger discussions, opposing any staff cuts, insisting that Kilpatrick would have to take on all of his lawyers as a condition of the deal.

He also played a large part in another high-profile merger when Kilpatrick client Clifton Bancorp, which was partially public, asked Aguggia to become its CEO. Aguggia left Kilpatrick and joined the bank in January 2014. By April of that year, he had taken the company fully public.

Four years later, Clifton Bancorp merged with Kearny Financial Corp., with Aguggia remaining on Kearny’s board of directors until last month.

Aguggia said his direct experience in mergers of different types of organizations has given him invaluable perspective and expertise.

“Having crossed the aisle and become a financial institution CEO, I’ve become even more sensitive to issues such as board interaction, risk management, and governance,” he said. “When it comes to those types of things, you really can’t beat the experience of having been in the CEO’s seat.”

Aguggia expects merger and corporate transactional work to continue in the coming year, providing him with plenty of work in his new role.

“In the banking sector, M&A deal flow is affected by the need of companies to get together and have efficiencies, to deal better with the rising costs of technology and regulatory challenges,” he said. “With bank stocks trading down, things are a bit challenging. Financial institutions are affected in many ways, and I think that, across the board, M&A should be robust.”

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