Fred Heller retired from the partnership at the end of 2016 after leading the firm’s international finance practice from London and serving as partner in charge of the firm’s London office from 2001 to 2010. He is now adjunct professor at the University of San Diego Law School, teaching in the international transactions and emerging markets areas.
Practice & Background
Mr. Heller practiced in Europe for more than 25 years. He has acted in significant financings and mergers and acquisitions in most emerging markets, including Russia, all CIS states, the Middle East, Africa and India, and in every European Union member state. He also acted for clients in European Commission merger, competition and regulatory proceedings.
Mr. Heller participated in the growth of international telecommunications, from the early 1990s, when private operators were first permitted to compete against European state-owned operators, to the present liberalized market. For a dozen years, he advised VimpelCom Ltd., a leading international telecommunications company, in its expansion through Russia, the CIS, Africa, Asia and other emerging markets, as well as in the European Union. Before joining the firm, he served as outside general counsel for Europe to an American telecommunications operator in its pursuit of mobile telecommunications licences and ventures in most EU member states.
Mr. Heller was recognized by Chambers & Partners UK as a “Key Individual in Banking and Finance” in the London legal market from 2012 through 2017. In its 2017 edition, Chambers & Partners UK called Mr. Heller “a solution maker in complex situations.” Other client comments in Chambers & Partners UK editions describe him as: “a highly seasoned operator…strategic in his approach to negotiations" (2016), “a class act” and a “fantastic lawyer,” who stays “shoulder to shoulder with clients on deals” (2015), and “outstanding” and “highly regarded for his encyclopaedic knowledge…as well as his sheer strength at getting good results” (2014). The 2013 report stated: “Clients and peers speak of him highly: "I think he is excellent. If I was a corporate and I had a big financing I would want him…he is a very effective negotiator.
He was also recognized as a key individual in banking and finance in the UK by Chambers & Partners Europe from 2012 through 2016, Chambers & Partners Global recognized Mr. Heller as a leading foreign expert in Russian and UK banking and finance for the same years.
Mr. Heller was a member of the London office teams recognized with a number of legal market awards, including: TMT Finance’s 2015 Deal of the Year Middle East North Africa for a sale of 51% of an Algerian telecoms group to the Algerian Government; Frontier Markets Issue of the Year 2014 awarded by International Finance Review Asia for the first international bond issue out of Bangladesh; Corporate Team of the Year at the London Legal Business Awards in 2012; and Legal Innovation in Emerging Markets, given by the Financial Times in 2011. In the International Financial Law Review Middle East Awards for 2012 M&A Deal of the Year, he led the runner up team on the Egyptian demerger of a listed company into two Egyptian-listed companies.
Mr. Heller was also recognized in Legal 500 UK and in all editions of Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom for mergers and acquisitions (2009-2017) and listed in Legal Business Legal Experts for Corporate M&A.
Before joining Akin Gump in 2001, Mr. Heller practiced with another international law firm. He established and managed that firm’s Brussels office and, in 1997, moved to London to head its European offices.
Mr. Heller received his B.A. from Yale College and his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the State Bar of Georgia and, while in Europe, was a Registered Foreign Lawyer with the Law Society of England and Wales and a member of the B-List of the Brussels Bar.
Before entering law school, Mr. Heller worked as a news reporter with The Wall Street Journal, The Atlanta Constitution, The New York Daily News and The Concord (N.H.) Daily Monitor.