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Willkie Farr & Gallagher hires ILS and reinsurance convergence law team


Law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher (WFG) have hired a team of partners and lawyers from rival Dewey & LeBoeuf who bring with them extensive experience in the insurance-linked securities, alternative risk transfer and reinsurance / capital markets convergence area. Dewey & LeBoeuf have been dogged by rumours of issues and departures from the firm recently, but this team departure is of particular note to the markets we cover.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher aren’t a law firm we hear mentioned in relation to ILS or cat bond transactions so this acquisition of a team with significant experience (and therefore relationships) could propel them into this lucrative space. ILS, cat bonds, reinsurance derivatives and other types of capital market reinsurance transactions can pay law firms particularly well as they involve long contracts and a lot of legal diligence.

The team of 12 insurance transactional and regulatory lawyers are led by Alexander M. Dye, Michael Groll, Robert S. Rachofsky and John M. Schwolsky and have a track record of representing re/insurance companies, investment banks, sponsors/issuers and other financial institutions in M&A, capital markets and regulatory matters in the U.S., London, Europe, Asia and Bermuda.

Also moving across from Dewey & LeBoeuf are Scott D. Avitabile, Donald B. Henderson, Jr., Arthur J. Lynch, Vladimir Nicenko and Allison Tam, who will be based in the New York office for WFG, Joseph D. Ferraro and Nicholas Bugler, who will be based in London, and Christopher S. Petito, who will be based in Washington, D.C. office.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher are going to be playing a much bigger role in the ILS and cat bond space, as well as the reinsurance convergence sector in future. To give you an idea just how experienced this team is, and how these hires could help to propel WFG into these markets, here are some highlights of some of the lawyers who are involved’s relevant experience.

Michael Groll – represented many companies in specialized insurance and reinsurance structures such as securitizations, sidecar transactions and catastrophe bonds. Deals of note include Merna Re for State Farm and Ajax Re for Aspen.

Robert S. Rachofsky – Has advised on ILS transactions including for Groupama SA in connection with the offering of catastrophe bonds by Green Valley Ltd.

John M. Schwolsky – advises insurers on insurance-linked securities transactions, including catastrophe bonds, mortality bonds and swaps, redundant reserve financing and other risk-linked securities. He has worked on a series of cat bonds over the years and could be considered quite prolific in this area.

Scott D. Avitabile – Has advised on securitization of life insurance policies and the issuance of catastrophe bonds, mortality bonds. Particular specialism in Regulation XXX type transactions. Also worked on the Aetna Vitality Re medical benefit ratio ILS transactions.

Arthur J. Lynch – Has worked in such areas as use of capital market and hedge fund strategies by insurers, and other issues related to the convergence of the insurance and capital markets, as well as the formation of “transformer” insurance companies and special purpose insurance or reinsurance facilities. Recently worked on the Vecta I Ltd., Aurigen Re embedded value life insurance securitization deal, on Aetna’s Vitality Re transactions and on the formation of various ILS fund offerings.

Vladimir Nicenko – Has worked on ILS transactions, contingent capital facilities, embedded value deals and other alternative risk transfer and derivative type transactions for the re/insurance industry. Has recently worked on longevity risk transfer deals with Prudential, Deutsche Bank and Rothesay Life.

Joseph D. Ferraro – Based in London, works on many insurance and structured finance matters. Recently worked on the Accordion sidecar formation

Nicholas Bugler – Also in London, has extensive experience across the reinsurance sector including sidecar formation and advising on cat bond transactions. Has a specific focus on the interface of reinsurance and the capital markets.

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