Morgan Stanley rainmaker Rob Kindler is leaving to join elite law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison after 17 years with the Wall Street investment bank where he advised on some of the largest-ever corporate takeovers. 

Paul Weiss said Kindler was joining as a partner and would chair its mergers and acquisitions practice. He was most recently vice-chair at Morgan Stanley and had been the bank’s global head of M&A. 

“Rob is widely recognised as one of the most influential and respected M&A practitioners in the world,” Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Kindler said he was excited to be part of what he described as “the premier franchise for M&A and activism defence”.

“I was fortunate to be a part of Morgan Stanley for the past 17 years as its visionary leadership transformed it into the leading investment bank that it is today,” he said.

Kindler started his career at white-shoe law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore before joining JPMorgan Chase in 2000 as global head of M&A. He moved to Morgan Stanley six years later. 

One of the most pivotal deals he worked on at Morgan Stanley was selling a minority stake in itself to Japanese lender Mitsubishi UFJ Group (MUFG) in 2008. The $9bn investment helped restore investor confidence in Morgan Stanley at the height of the financial crisis. 

Kindler became part of Wall Street folklore when he was sent to collect a $9bn check in person from MUFG due to bank holidays in Japan and the US.

John Mack, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive at the time, described in his recent memoir how Kindler turned up “wearing his khakis and sandals from Cape Cod”, where he had been over the weekend, and then sent his boss an email saying “We Have the Check!!!!!!” and “It’s Closed!!!!!!!!”.

Kindler has advised on dozens of other major deals, including Time Warner in its $85.4bn acquisition by AT&T, Dow Chemical’s $130bn merger with DuPont and Bristol Myers Squibb on its $90bn acquisition of Celgene. 

Recently, he worked on Morgan Stanley’s acquisitions of ETrade and Eaton Vance, two deals that have been central to its growth in asset and wealth management. 

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