Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP today announced that it is opening an office in Houston, Texas. The office will be the New York firm’s first new domestic office opening in more than 30 years. Willkie has a substantial client base in Texas including a number of the most highly regarded energy-related funds and most active industrial buyout firms in the region. This move furthers the firm’s strategy to combine the strengths of its existing relationships, the private equity, leveraged finance, M&A and capital markets skills of a traditional Wall Street firm and the talents of Houston-based attorneys specializing in energy and buyout transactions.

Launching the Houston office will be Willkie corporate partner Bruce Herzog, together with Michael Piazza, who joins from Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, and Angela Olivarez, who joins from Jones Day.

Mr. Herzog is a Houston native with longstanding ties to the private equity community. With more than 25 years’ experience representing Houston and New York-based buyout and energy funds, Mr. Herzog is one of the early attorneys in Houston to have dedicated his practice to private equity projects ranging from fund formations, LBOs, “equity-line” investments, portfolio company transactions and a wide variety of exits. Having practiced in Houston with a leading Texas-based firm for many years before joining Willkie’s New York office in 2008, Mr. Herzog has unique visibility on the combined resources these sophisticated clients require on an ongoing basis. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his law degree from the University of Texas.

Mr. Piazza’s practice is focused on a wide variety of energy transactions for private equity funds, strategics and energy lenders. He has represented clients in upstream and midstream acquisitions, joint ventures, divestitures, mezzanine financings, portfolio company acquisitions and financings, fund formation projects and equity line energy investments. Mr. Piazza has been recognized as a rising star by multiple legal publications, including Law360 and Texas Lawyer. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his law degree from Georgetown University.

Ms. Olivarez concentrates in M&A and capital markets transactions primarily concerning energy businesses and investment banks. She has extensive experience in public and private offerings of both equity and debt securities representing issuers, underwriters and investors. Ms. Olivarez also counsels clients on a variety of governance and SEC disclosure matters. Before moving to Houston in 2007, Ms. Olivarez practiced with a leading New York firm in New York and London. She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her law degree from Columbia University.

The firm plans to grow the Houston office in a manner that reflects its commitment to its longstanding clients, its positive outlook on the global energy industry as well as its careful approach to quality and firm culture.

“We are very excited about the expansion and the opening of a new domestic office,” said Co-Chairman Thomas Cerabino. “We have a terrific initial team that will be working closely with our New York, Washington and European offices. We have had an active year representing clients in energy-related transactions in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. By creating a robust office in Houston, we will be able to expand our services to those who value the combined resources of our corporate franchise and the skills of attorneys steeped in energy projects.”

“In the private equity area, we believe we have an unparalleled combination of transactional, fund formation and regulatory expertise to offer clients in the Houston buyout and energy fund market,” said Co-Chairman Steven Gartner. “We have made substantial investments in our private equity platform over the last several years and we believe our presence in Houston will enable us to deepen already developed relationships with private equity funds, hedge funds and other clients that touch the energy sector. Our top practices in areas such as restructuring, asset management and SEC and FCPA compliance will complement and enhance the transactional skills we bring to the Houston and broader energy market,” he added.

Willkie’s international network provides comprehensive legal services to clients. The firm represents a number of U.S. and international companies in the energy sector in a variety of matters including mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions and compliance issues. Willkie also actively represents more than 75 U.S. and international private equity sponsors, U.S. and foreign fund investors and a significant number of portfolio companies and management teams across a broad range of industries, including energy.



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