Latham & Watkins LLP (London)

The Scoop

Once just a small California law firm, Latham & Watkins today sits secure as one of the world's leading law firms, a bona fide member of the clique that includes the Magic Circle and the elite US heritage firms. With approximately 2,000 lawyers in 31 offices around the world, the firm practises in all the major jurisdictions in the United States, the EU, the Middle East and Asia, and regularly represents companies doing business in Latin America, Africa and emerging markets. The firm is a global leader in corporate, environmental law, finance, litigation and tax services.

One world, one firm

Over its more than 75-year history, Latham & Watkins has determinedly shed its California roots and evolved into a global player. As a small Los Angeles outfit in 1934, the firm was well-positioned to take advantage of Southern California's swiftly-escalating post-war industrialisation and population growth. By 1969, Latham employed 42 lawyers-a healthy practice, but still undeniably local. Over the ensuing three decades, Latham & Watkins aggressively and steadily expanded around the globe. Even after taking heavy hits in the recession-in 2009, the firm laid off 440 lawyers and non-legal staff-Latham remains one of the world's largest law firms by both size and revenue. The firm's latest outposts, added in 2010 and early 2011, include Houston, Riyadh, Beijing and Boston.

Today, Latham joins the herd of firms disavowing headquarters and home cities, abandoning the concept of "satellite" offices and insisting that they have no dominant practice or power base. Latham's guiding management principle is the idea of "One Firm". Not only does the firm eschew the notion of a headquarters, but it also actively works to emphasise the team effort of legal work, rather than elevating individual star lawyers. Latham extends this cultural ideal in a very unique way: by involving associates in the promotion process.

Large in London

The firm's London office, with approximately 200 lawyers, represents investment banks, financial institutions, private equity houses, corporates, governments and other organisations, both in the UK and throughout the world. Its leading practices include everything from capital markets and EU and competition law to outsourcing and intellectual property litigation. The firm's Scandinavia practice is led out of the London office and lawyers in London work closely with teams in its European offices and around the world on cross-border deals and cases.

Capitalising on Middle East markets

Latham has had a presence in the Middle East for more than a decade and made headlines in early 2010 when it snagged more than a dozen partners from White & Case, including the heads of the firm's Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Qatar offices. Latham now has more than 50 lawyers in offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh-reflecting Latham's recognition of the Gulf Region as one of the most dynamic markets in the global economy. Since its arrival, the firm has worked on a number of headline-grabbing deals, including advising the Qatari Ministry of Economy and Finance on a $7 billion bond offering, the largest ever in the Middle East, and representing the Investment Dar, Kuwait's biggest Islamic investment company, which holds stakes in a diverse portfolio of assets-including British carmaker Aston Martin-in a massive restructuring programme.

Recent News

Shifting sands and liquid gas

When the global financial crisis hit the Middle East, Dubai World, a state-owned investment company, turned to Latham for help restructuring its debt. Through its subsidiary Nakheel, Dubai World had developed the extravagant artificial Palm Islands and The World Archipelago, but the investment hadn't paid off. Dubai World owed $26 billion to 93 domestic and international banks. In 2010, Latham was able to buy time for Dubai World to rebuild its assets and secured an additional $10 billion in financing from neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi. The firm's efforts earned Latham an award in Acquisitions Monthly for "Restructuring Deal of the Year".

That year, Latham also represented the six credit export agencies and 17 commercial banks that financed a $14 billion Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project. Described by Infrastructure Journal as a "milestone deal" and "the largest project finance transaction ever", the publication dubbed the transaction the "Global Deal of the Year". London partner Bill Voge lead the Latham team on the deal.

Border-crossing ventures

In one of Latham's latest projects for the Qatari government, the firm advised Qatar Holding, a state-owned investment fund, in its £1.5 billion purchase of Harrods department store from Mohamed al-Fayed in 2010. The sale also reportedly included a real estate and a helicopter charter business.

At the end of the year, Latham advised Wimm-Bill-Dann, a Moscow-based dairy and juice company, in PepsiCo's acquisition of a 66 per cent stake in the company for $3.8 billion in cash. The deal represents the largest foreign investment in Russia outside the oil and gas sector, and makes Pepsi the country's largest food-and-beverage business.

The firm also advised London-based mining company Vedanta Resources on its proposed $9.6 billion acquisition of a controlling stake in Cairn India from Cairn Energy. The deal, while agreed to in 2010, is currently awaiting regulatory approval.

Victory for Ukraine

Recent cross-border work on the disputes side includes a March 2011 victory for Ukraine in ICSID arbitration involving international investment law and a bilateral treaty between Germany and Ukraine. Latham successfully defended the state against an $80 million claim by German company GEA Group; GEA, which had invested in a Ukraine-owned petrochemical plant, argued that the state was responsible for the disappearance of 125,000 tons of petrochemical products. Latham lawyers from the London, Hamburg and Kyiv offices convinced a tribunal to deny all of GEA's claims and order the company to reimburse the state for its troubles.

Stop making sense

The London office led the way in the firm's release of an app for iPhones and iPads that demystifies the language of capital markets and banking slang. The European Capital Markets and Bank Finance Book of Jargon™ app is supposed to help decode jargon, slang and other terminologies in the capital markets and banking sectors.

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Latham & Watkins LLP (London)


99 Bishopsgate
London EC2M 3XF
Phone: +44 (0)20 7710 1000
www.lw.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • London Managing Partner: Nicholas Cline
  • Total No. Attorneys 2011: 2,000

Major Office Locations

  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Shanghai, China
  • Beijing, China
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Silicon Valley, CA
  • Orange County, CA
  • Washington, DC
  • Chicago, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Newark, NJ
  • New York, NY
  • Houston, TX
  • Doha, Qatar
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Paris, France
  • Munich, Germany
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Hamburg, Germany
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Milan, Italy
  • Rome, Italy
  • Tokyo, Japan
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