Clifford Chance names PE head replacement

Frankfurt partner Oliver Felsenstein will lead Clifford Chance's private equity team in the wake of David Walker's move to Latham & Watkins.

Magic circle firm Clifford Chance has named Frankfurt partner Oliver Felsenstein as global head of private equity.

He succeeds David Walker, who left the firm after 13 years to join US-headquartered Latham & Watkins earlier this year. 

Felsenstein, whose private equity clients include HgCapital and PAI Partners, joined Clifford in 2006 from legacy firm Lovells. 

Walker’s departure from Clifford Chance furthered a wider trend in the market for private equity lawyers: US law firms poaching talent from foreign rivals. The strategy offers US firms a quick way to build their market reputation in foreign markets dominated by entrenched local players. 

According to legal sources, fuelling the trend is the need for law firms to globalize their presence as M&A deals and fundraising becomes more international endeavors. Clifford Chance has already experienced this, having lost the head of its fund formation practice, Jason Glover, to US firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in 2010. In similar fashion, Clifford Chance lost four fund formation partners, including Ed Gander, to rival US firm Weil Gotshal & Manges in the summer of 2011. 

“Given that the US had historically been, and continues to be, the largest market for investors – as well as the most complex regulatory environment – it was inevitable that managers were looking for advisers who not only understood the US regulatory position, but also had extensive knowledge of applying those rules in practice,” Glover told PEI last year.