BOSTON (Reuters) - Stephen Fraidin, a prominent mergers lawyer who has been a top executive at billionaire investor William Ackman’s hedge fund, is joining law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.
The firm plans to soon announce that Fraidin will join its New York office as a partner, Cadwalader’s managing partner, Pat Quinn, told Reuters.
Fraidin, 78, joined Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management as vice chairman three years ago after working for five decades as a Wall Street lawyer.
He arrived at the hedge fund soon after Ackman teamed up with pharmaceutical company Valeant as it sought to buy Botox-maker Allergan when the investor looked ready to structure more deals that require intense in-house legal supervision. Pershing Square’s later investment in Valeant failed, contributing to a string of losses and reduced deal-making appetite.
Fraidin is leaving the activist hedge fund which generally makes only about a dozen long-term investments, for a law firm that has been in business since George Washington was the U.S. president, and now frequently works for Ackman’s $8 billion hedge fund.
“This is an opportunity to return to helping clients deal with challenging corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions situations, and I think it is a good move for me,” Fraidin told Reuters.
At Cadwalader Fraidin he will reunite with Richard Brand, co-chairman of the firm’s corporate group, who often handles legal matters for Pershing Square. The two men had worked together at Kirkland & Ellis. Before that, Fraidin was a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.
He returns to practicing merger law as dealmaking is off to a strong start this year. But gradually rising interest rates, concerns over U.S. trade policy, and worries about unfriendly regulators have raised questions on Wall Street whether the robust pace will continue.
During his career, Fraidin has advised prominent clients including private equity firm 3G Capital Partners which teamed up with Warren Buffett to buy H.J. Heinz Co for $28 billion in 2013. In 2014, he represented the London Stock Exchange Group in its $2.7 billion acquisition of U.S. index compiler Frank Russell Co.
Fraidin will keep ties to Pershing Square and remain on its advisory board. Ackman, 52, who has known Fraidin since his teenage years and calls him a mentor, said “I am looking forward to working with Steve in his new role at Cadwalader.”
Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe