Clifford Chance remains at the pinnacle of the private equity market "without a shadow of a doubt," say interviewees. The "exceptionally strong" team remains at the forefront of any developments thanks to continual innovation, adaptation to market conditions and some exciting new client wins. Of note, the team was recently appointed as one of Cinven's first-choice legal counsel, and is also instructed by Parcom Capital. Its ability to "source experts in any legal area" is much admired, enabling it to offer a seamless service across transactions, covering everything from tax to regulatory approvals. It advised The Carlyle Group on its £1 billion acquisition of RAC, one of the largest UK buyouts in 2011. Clifford Chance is also a leader in the infrastructure field, where it has expanded the remit of the private equity group to capitalise on the growing popularity of specialist infrastructure funds.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Matthew Layton leads the global corporate group and has had "a stellar reputation since day one." According to peers, he remains the "gold standard" for private equity lawyers.
Due to his wealth of experience, David Pearson is "one of the best private equity lawyers in London" and "one of the savviest professionals in the field." According to one client, he is "commercial whilst keeping the interests of his client at heart."
London corporate head Simon Tinkler acts for Montagu Private Equity, Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Duke Street Capital, amongst other clients. He recently acted for one of Montagu's portfolio companies on the £22 million purchase of a website hosting company.
Kem Ihenacho is the rising star of the practice, and is noted for his African expertise. He advises a range of funds on African investments, and recently assisted Helios Investment Partners with its participation in a joint venture with Vitol to acquire Shell's African downstream petroleum business.
Amy Mahon handles a range of domestic and cross-border deals, and is a key member of Clifford Chance's infrastructure funds team.