London law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP has snapped up senior Allen & Overy LLP M&A partner Alan Paul as a consultant as it works to build up its corporate practice. Paul describes the move as "good news" and says it will give him a chance to "do something different and work differently" after 34 years at A&O, including 27 as a partner.
At 57, Paul says he is still doing well at A&O but has reached "that time of life" when he has to think ahead and determine what he wants to do for the next five to 10 years. "You can either wait till you get to your 60s," says the University of Oxford-educated Paul, "or decide you want to develop something. I've decided to develop something. It's exciting, actually."
He denies A&O has an ageist policy toward its top people, arguing instead that it "operates the same as most of the firms of its ilk here in London." But he says he does not want "to become second string here, which is eventually what would happen once you get to a certain age," and thinks it is easier to work differently and in different capacities somewhere new than it is "in a place where you've had particular roles."
In fact, with about 150 U.K. public company takeovers under his belt as well as years of service on the Takeover Panel's Code Committee, Paul has had enough "particular roles" to make him a catch for any firm. Among his many high-profile assignments as what he describes as "a legal adviser to corporates of all shapes and sizes," he counseled Dutch brewer Heineken NV on its $15 billion bid, with Danish rival Carlsberg A/S, for Scottish & Newcastle plc, the last big British-owned brewer; and Dutch bank ABN Amro Holding NV on its $100 billion takeover by a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc. Last year, more modestly, he advised venerable Indian travel group Cox & Kings Ltd. on its $511 million takeover of Britain's Holidaybreak plc.
His new firm certainly thinks it can find a place for Paul, arguing that his experience and market reputation will "further enhance the strength and depth of BLP's corporate practice as it continues its upward trajectory." And it says his extensive experience in advising some of the largest U.S.-based corporations on their cross-border M&A activities will complement the Asian experience of its other recent specialist M&A hire, David Barnes, who joined the firm from Linklaters LLP in March.
"The upward momentum of our corporate practice remains a strategic priority for the firm," says BLP's head of corporate, John Bennett, in a statement. "Alan is a very welcome addition to the team given the strength and depth of his M&A experience, particularly at the higher end, and his almost unrivalled involvement in public takeover situations."