(Reuters) - Derek Zaba, the head of contested situations at PJT Camberview, has resigned to join law firm Sidley Austin LLP, where he will start this summer as a partner and co-head of its activism defense practice, according to people familiar with the matter.
Zaba’s departure comes five months after PJT Partners Inc, the investment bank founded by Morgan Stanley veteran Paul Taubman, acquired CamberView, which specializes in advising companies on how to engage with their shareholders.
Zaba, a managing director at PJT, has given his notice and is now on leave until he begins at the law firm in the summer, the sources said on Sunday. He will continue to be based in San Francisco, the sources added.
A PJT spokesman declined to comment, while a Sidley Austin representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Zaba, a lawyer by training, worked at CamberView for roughly four years. At Sidley Austin, he will run the activism defense group together with Kai Liekefett, who joined the law firm last year from Vinson & Elkins LLP.
Liekefett has helped turn Sidley Austin into a major force in activist defense, taking on legal powerhouses such as Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz LLP. His group has seven dedicated associates.
Zaba is making the move at a time investment banks and law firms are ramping up their activist defense practices, as more companies come under pressure to put themselves up for sale, return capital to shareholders, refresh their boards or spin off certain units.
Zaba has first-hand knowledge of how activist hedge funds operate, having been a partner at Voce Capital, an activist investor currently running a proxy contest at insurer Argo Group International Holdings.
He also worked at hedge fund Scoggin Capital and began his professional career as a lawyer at Wachtell.
PJT has also gone from strength to strength in shareholder activism defense. It is currently advising L Brands Inc, the owner of consumer brands such as Victoria’s Secret, in its defense against hedge fund Barington Capital.
Earlier this month, PJT, alongside Goldman Sachs Group Inc, advised U.S. casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corp on its agreement with billionaire investor Carl Icahn over the composition of its board.
CamberView has seen some other people leave in the past year as well. Peter Michelsen, who had been the group’s president before the deal with PJT, returned to Goldman Sachs and is now co-head of its activism and shareholder advisory group.
Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney