Latham & Watkins Adds Three Prominent Partners in Hong Kong

Responding to market developments in Asia, Latham & Watkins is pleased to announce the addition of Simon Cooke, Gary Hamp and Amy Beckingham as partners in the Hong Kong office, and the relocation of London partner James Burnett and Chicago partner Josef Athanas to Hong Kong.

The arrival of these partners marks a significant milestone for Latham’s Hong Kong and Asia practice. Cooke, Hamp and Beckingham bring extensive experience in private equity and leveraged finance in Asia—important pillars of economic activity in the region and core areas of strength for the firm.

Cooke is a highly regarded M&A lawyer in Hong Kong and he has experience in a wide range of other corporate finance and commercial matters. He has worked on many of the largest and most important recent transactions in Asia, and he has close ties to a number of the most active private equity firms in the region and globally.

Hamp is one of the most well-respected leveraged finance partners in Asia. He advises on Hong Kong and cross-border financing transactions, representing banks, large corporates and private equity firms on leveraged finance matters, corporate loans, and restructurings and workouts.

Beckingham advises private equity and other financial investor clients in public and private M&A and in structuring joint ventures. She also has considerable experience representing clients on exits through IPOs in a number of jurisdictions.

After more than a decade with Latham, including over five years in London, James Burnett has relocated to the firm’s Hong Kong office. He represents investment banks, private equity firms, and companies in public and private debt offerings and acquisition financing, with a particular emphasis on issuances of high yield debt securities and leveraged transactions.

Over the past 25 years, finance partner Josef Athanas has represented many high profile private and public companies in connection with out-of-court and in-court restructurings, reorganizations and distressed M&A transactions. He also has substantial experience advising secured and unsecured lenders in workouts and restructurings. Athanas is relocating to the firm’s Hong Kong office from Chicago.

Bill Voge, Chair and Managing Partner of Latham & Watkins, said: “Over the years, Latham has been deeply involved in the development of private equity and leveraged finance markets in the United States and Europe, and there are clear signs that those markets are growing and evolving in Asia. The arrival of these partners in Hong Kong, along with the talented team in London, New York and other global financial capitals, puts us in place to capitalize on these trends.”

Bryant Edwards, Chair of Latham & Watkins’ Asia Practice, added: “Ten to 15 years ago, we saw strong growth in private equity and related finance in London and Europe. We’re seeing the same patterns in Asia today, in particular where high yield has grown to become a significant part of leveraged finance. We have a first-tier practice, which will be further strengthened by the arrival of Simon, Gary, Amy, James and Josef, and we are excited to replicate in Asia the success we have had in those markets in the US and Europe.”

Simon Powell, Office Managing Partner of Latham & Watkins in Hong Kong, said: “Simon, Gary and Amy each have extremely strong market profiles and are among the most experienced lawyers in their fields. James and Josef are fantastic, proven practice builders, and their business acumen, technical skills and entrepreneurial drive are just some of the many talents they will bring to our practice in Hong Kong and across the region. The addition of these talented corporate and finance partners marks another major step in the continuing development of our practice in the region, and their experience and judgment will be of great service to our clients.”

David Gordon, Vice Chair of Latham & Watkins, commented: “We are laser-focused on building market-leading practices in the high-end transactional and disputes areas that strategically complement our global platform. We are excited by the opportunities we see in Hong Kong and Greater China, and we are committed to assembling the very best team to build on our successes in the region and to grow our market share.”

Brief biographical information of the five partners follow:

Athanas’ practice focuses on representing debtors, secured creditors, private equity firms and other parties in out-of-court and in-court restructurings, reorganizations, distressed investments and distressed M&A transactions. Over the years, he has advised blue chip companies, lenders and private equity firms on a wide range of distressed restructurings and transactions. He received his JD from the University of Chicago Law School.

Beckingham’s practice focuses on advising private equity and other financial investor clients in public and private M&A transactions, as well as joint ventures. She also has notable experience advising such clients on exits through initial public offerings in a number of jurisdictions, including Hong Kong and across South East Asia. Beckingham joins Latham & Watkins from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. She studied law at Jesus College, Cambridge University.

Burnett’s practice focuses on representing investment banks, private equity firms and companies in public and private debt and equity offerings, bridge loans, acquisition financing and liability management transactions. Burnett has particular experience advising on issuances of high yield debt securities and leveraged transactions. He received his JD from the Columbia University School of Law, where he was a James Kent Scholar.

Cooke’s practice focuses on M&A and corporate finance, specifically on pan-Asian private equity transactions. He advises on general public and private company and cross-border M&A and corporate finance transactions for corporate and financial institution clients as well as on a broad range of domestic and cross-border buy-outs, growth capital, pre-IPO, PIPE and other private equity transactions for Asian and international private equity clients. Cooke joins Latham & Watkins from Clifford Chance. He studied law at Queens’ College, Cambridge University.

Hamp’s practice focuses on acquisition and leveraged finance, distressed investments, structured secured lending and debt restructurings and workouts. He counsels financial institutions, corporates and private equity sponsors, including a number of investment and commercial banks based in London and Hong Kong, and also works closely with leading debt and restructuring advisors. Hamp joins Latham & Watkins from Hogan Lovells. He studied law at Keble College, Oxford University.

Cooke said: “As the market continues to transform in Asia, we expect to see new and exciting opportunities for strategic buyers and private equity in China, South East Asia and more generally across the region. Latham has had significant success in its other markets and the firm’s commitment to achieve the same market stature in Asia, together with its incredibly strong finance platform, is very attractive to me.”

Hamp said: “Joining Latham’s Hong Kong office and its global Banking Practice, with its particular depth in New York, London and Asia, provides me with unique opportunities to grow my practice as the globalization of the finance market continues. Latham’s formidable finance capability, with strength in Term Loan Bs and high yield bonds and in the US institutional investor markets generally, further distinguishes the firm.”

Beckingham added: “Latham’s global platform, clear, strategic focus and team ethos were compelling reasons for me to join Latham. The firm has been steadily assembling a tremendous set of talent and resources to establish a leading private equity capability globally. I look forward to supporting the growth of the firm’s private equity and cross-border M&A practice in Hong Kong and Asia.”

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