Tom LaMacchia left his role as a partner at US law firm White & Case in Japan earlier this month to join Qatar’s $115 billion sovereign wealth fund, which plans to invest $30 billion this year.

He has already started in his new post in Doha at Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which did not respond to AsianInvestor requests for comment on the hire. 

A source says LaMacchia’s role will involve advising on fund investments and M&A work. The latter is likely to take up most of his time, but he will probably also advise on tailoring funds to meet QIA’s requirements.

The SWF will likely mostly invest in private equity funds; long-term assets for which it will seek top-tier managers, adds the source. “They have a lot of money to put out.”

QIA's assets are rising fast, having grown 15% from $100 billion between July and September, according to a report published by Sovereign Wealth Funds.

The fund is looking to diversify its international portfolio further in line with Qatar's aim to mitigate its dependence on oil and gas. For example, it received a qualified institutional investor (QFII) licence last month, which allows it to invest in onshore Chinese securities.

QIA is unlikely to have a large internal staff, perhaps no more than 15-20, and will make use of other law firms when required, he says. “[LaMacchia's hire] probably won’t be part of a big hiring binge [of legal staff].”

That's more because the fund doesn't have the need for a large, permanent legal team, rather than because it cannot afford one. Even an international law firm would struggle to match what an SWF can offer in terms of remuneration, notes a Hong Kong-based recruiter.

LaMacchia had worked in White & Case’s financial services practice in Tokyo since 2003, before which he worked as an associate at rival firm Simpson Thatcher. Most recently he reported to senior partner at White & Case, Chris Wells, whose team does a lot of work for financial firms such as hedge and PE fund managers.

LaMacchia’s former duties are likely to be taken on by an internally promoted member of staff.

QIA is a client of White & Case, which this year advised the fund in connection with a $250 million investment by state-owned Qatar Asset Management Company in a vehicle sponsored by Barclays Natural Resources Investments, part of UK bank Barclays.