Stikeman Elliott finds longtime New York partner from rival Canadian firm

The New York co-head of the private equity group of Canadian firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon is jumping to compete with Stikeman Elliott to bolster its cross-border transactional practice.

Jamie Koumanakos will play a strategic leadership role at Stikeman’s New York office with Ken Ottenbreit, who has managed the Manhattan hub for more than 20 years, Stikemans said.

“It’s a perfect fit,” Koumanakos told International. “I worked opposite Stikemans for a number of years and always held them in very high regard.

After 15 years at Blakes, Koumanakos said he was drawn to “the company’s dynamic, entrepreneurial vision and culture.”

His practice at Stikemans will focus on Canadian corporate and securities law, specializing in inbound Canadian cross-border mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions. Koumanakos acts for private equity funds and strategic buyers in Canadian public and private acquisition and investment transactions, Stikemans said. He also advises US, Canadian and international private equity sponsors and some of the largest North American pension plans.

Clients of Stikemans’ New York team include The Carlyle Group, KKR Co & Inc. and Platinum Equity.

Ottenbreit said that while the markets are quite “shaky” right now, there is still a lot of activity. But it’s hard to predict whether that will translate into any deals made.

“There is still a lot of money and a lot of offers are under consideration,” he said.

Koumanakos previously worked at Torys, another Canadian company, in Toronto and New York before joining Blakes in 2007, according to his LinkedIn bio.

He said the move to Stikemans came “quite naturally,” as he and Ottenbreit have had a lot of interaction over the years as two of the few Canadian lawyers with long-term work in Manhattan.

Ottenbreit said Koumanakos had a strong reputation and a diverse clientele, and his “drive and entrepreneurial spirit” was always sought after by Stikemans.

Stikemans was the first Canadian firm to open in New York, according to the firm, having opened an office in 1982 to provide Canadian legal services to US and international clients. Its current team of four, including Koumanakos, will continue to act for buyers and sellers of Canadian businesses and assets supported by other members of the firm’s five Canadian offices.

“The plan is to continue to have a very strong beachhead in New York and [to] get senior M&A partners through here,” Ottenbreit said.

Stikeman Elliott is a full-service Canadian business law firm with 489 lawyers in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, New York, London and Sydney.

Denise W. Whigham