03 February 2021

McCarthy Denning taps magic circle veterans for private equity launch

Portrait of Ian Morpeth and Michael Wistow

Iain Morpeth (right) and Michael Wistow

Real estate-focused practice will be headed by former Clifford Chance partners Iain Morpeth and Michael Wistow

London 'next generation' law firm McCarthy Denning has hired two former magic circle lawyers to launch its international private equity real estate practice in what the firm views as a strategic growth area over the coming years. 

Iain Morpeth and Michael Wistow join as partners and co-heads of the new practice, with Wistow also becoming global head of tax. Morpeth arrives from James Street Advisers and Wistow from White & Case, though both were previously partners together at Clifford Chance. 

London-based McCarthy Denning pitches itself as an international law firm offering partner-only advice under an alternative model to traditional law firms.

Warren Wooldridge, co-founder and CEO of McCarthy Denning, said: “We remain focused on expanding our international corporate and commercial capabilities for our rapidly growing client base. As the pandemic continues to roll on, there is increasing demand from clients looking for experienced legal experts to guide them through the challenging business, legal and regulatory landscape and we aim to support them by providing access to technically excellent, market-leading experts spanning all key sectors and industries.”

Morpeth brings with him more than three decades of experience in the private equity real estate market, having created Clifford Chance’s practice in that area during the 1990s. Before joining James Street, Morpeth spent seven years at Ropes & Gray, where he was global chair of its international private equity real estate department. He started his career at Clifford Chance in 1988, remaining at the magic circle firm for almost a quarter of a century. 

Morpeth’s experience spans cross-border stressed and non-distressed real estate assets in the leisure and hospitality, office, logistics and retail sectors. He also advises on restructuring and mezzanine lending for a client roster that includes hedge funds, investment banks and sovereign wealth funds. 

Wistow, meantime, has more than three decades of experience as both a domestic and international tax lawyer, most recently as co-head of EMEA tax at White & Case, where he spent just over four years. Prior to that he was head of tax at Berwin Leighton Paisner for nine years, having joined from Clifford Chance where – like Morpeth – he started his career in 1988. 

His practice specialises in advising on the tax implications of real estate and other financial transactions, regularly advising investment banks, pension funds and private equity real estate funds on deals such as securitisations, joint ventures and REIT structures.

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