Proskauer eyes post-Brexit opportunity with hire – exclusive

There is optimism at Proskauer that Brexit will result in the further development of the private debt market. The appointment of Ben Davis from Reed Smith is an attempt to seize on those opportunities.

Law firm Proskauer is positioning itself to take advantage of potential opportunities that result from Brexit with the recruitment of a partner to join its non-bank lending team.

Ben Davis joins from Reed Smith, where he spent just under three years. Prior to that role, Davis spent almost a decade at Travers Smith. He starts his latest role at Proskauer on Monday, 22 August.

Davis joins Proskauer’s multi-tranche finance group, which so far includes partners Faisal Ramzan and Alex Griffith. Ramzan told PDI that the appointment makes sense because there are “a number of synergies and overlaps” in the relationships Davis has built and those of the firm. “Three partners gives us a strong presence across the European non-bank lending market,” said Ramzan.

Last year, Davis advised on BlueBay Asset Management’s supply of unitranche financing to support private equity firm Silverfleet’s acquisition of Danish womenswear retailer Masia Clothing. The unitranche facility, which saw BlueBay working alongside Lloyds in providing the debt, was the first completed in the country.

The appointment, Ramzan said, positions Proskauer very well at a time of potential growth in the private debt industry. “It was the global financial crisis that kick-started the rise of the asset class as banks began to withdraw from lending. Similarly, Brexit has generated a number of regulatory uncertainties, which means banks are still showing a caginess to lend.

“Unlike banks, private debt funds have the capital to invest and are able to move quickly to execute deals,” he added.

As the dust begins settle following the vote, much of the discussion has been on Brexit not being a reality until 2019. The slow pace of recruitment at the various governmental offices responsible for overseeing the negotiations coupled with a sense that the UK should wait until German and French elections have passed next year has meant many see Article 50 not being triggered until late 2017.

With the appointment of Davis, Ramzan explained that it means the firm can seize on the opportunities as banks continue to retrench. The firm works with both London-headquartered debt funds and continental debt funds with a location in the capital and advises them across the entire capital structure.

While dealflow has been slow on both sides of the Brexit vote, Ramzan has not ruled out any additional appointments in the future. “Three is not a magic number. We’re opportunistic and always happy to speak with other leading partners with the right experience in our space,” he said.