Baker McKenzie picks up seven lawyer team from KWM

Baker McKenzie has hired a seven-strong team from King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) in London, led by the firm’s head of China group Will Holder and head of employment Carl Richards.

The pair will join with a team of five associates this month.

According to a statement from Baker McKenzie, Holder will work closely with a number of partners including private equity funds head David Allen and TMT M&A head Charles Whitefoord “to drive growth in the transactional space, particularly in complex, cross border, multi-practice deals”.

Holder was previously seconded to KWM’s China office for 10 months. In August he took a lead role advising on the acquisition of English premier league club West Bromwich Albion FC by Yunyi Guokai Sports Development, in a deal estimated to be worth £150m.

Meanwhile Richards headed KWM’s employment practice for six years.

Earlier this week, The Lawyer reported that KWM had informed 100 staff and fee-earners in the UK, Europe and Middle East that their pay has been halted.

KWM filed its intention to appoint administrators in late December following a failed recapitalisation of its EUME business and several senior exits. Since then groups of partners have departed for both US and UK firms, including former senior partner Stephen Kon, who is joining Macfarlanes alongside three partners.

KWM China is expected to pick up a handful of partners, fee-earners and staff from the firm’s offices in London, Dubai, Spain, Madrid and Italy when the EUME LLP goes into administration later this month.

Among those in talks to stay with the global firm in KWM’s City office is a 10-lawyer disputes team led by international arbitration partner Andrei Yakovlev and litigation partners Dorothy Murray and Darren Roiser. KWM China is also in talks to buy out part of the London corporate and M&A practices.

The firm has also established a new LLP in the last week named KWM Deutschland. It is understood the entity is a move by KWM China to fulfil its regulatory requirements in Europe.

Not all of the firm’s German partners will stay with KWM however. On Tuesday (3 January) it emerged Allen & Overy had hired Frankfurt corporate partner Michiel Huizinga, with further departures expected.

It is not yet known what will happen to KWM’s offices in Belgium and Luxembourg. KWM’s Paris team, which was largely depleted following amass departure to Goodwin Procter earlier this year, is understood to be in talks with another firm.

In total, more than 40 partners left KWM across the UK, Europe and Middle East in the last two months of 2016 as the LLP’s finances reached crisis point and an administration became inevitable. Around 90 partners left the firm in total over 2016.

Skadden’s loses Europe competition co-head in Brussels to Denton’s

Dentons has hired Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s co-head of European competition James Venit in Brussels.

Venit, who has spent over 16 years as a partner at Skadden, joined Dentons in Brussels today (5 January).

He joined Skadden in 2000 from US rival Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, where he was also a partner, and became co-head of European competition at the elite US firm in 2010.

Dentons’ European competition practice is currently led by Juerg Karenfort, who is also co-head of the firm’s global practice.

Venit is considered to be one of the top antitrust practitioners in Brussels. During his time at Skadden, he advised on high-profile mergers including the €26.9bn ($33.6bn) tie-up of Mittal Steel and Arcelor in 2006, as well as and GE’s attempted $45bn takeover of Honeywell, which was blocked by the European Commission in 2005.

While at WilmerHale, he acted for AOL on its £250bn merger with Time Warner, and advised AT&T on its global joint venture with BT.

Dentons Brussels managing partner Edward Borovikov said: “His experience in high-profile competition and antitrust matters, and in particular in competition-related litigation, will further strengthen our reputable European Union competition practice here in Brussels.”

The move comes amid widespread anticipation of an increase in client demand for competition and trade advice, driven by the UK’s vote to leave the EU. Last year Legal Week reported that Slaughter and May would relocate a London competition partner to Brussels in preparation for a spike in work advising corporates on the UK’s post-Brexit trading relationship with the EU.

Addleshaws looking to merge with German firm Luther

Addleshaw Goddard is understood to be in talks over a potential tie-up with German law firm Luther.

The Cologne-headquartered firm has ten offices across Germany and six international offices. In 2016 it posted revenues of €124m (£106m), of which €110.3m (£94m) was generated by its German offices.

Addleshaws’ international network includes offices in Asia and the Middle East; however, the firm currently has no presence on the European continent.

Luther has European offices in London, Brussels and Luxembourg and Asian offices in Shanghai, Singapore and Myanmar’s former capital Yangon. In Germany the firm has bases in Berlin, Duesseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart.

A spokesperson for Addleshaws said: “Germany is a market full of opportunity, but we don’t comment on merger speculation and so have nothing to say.”

The news comes after confirmation of Addleshaws’ merger with Scottish firm HBJ Gateley later this year – a tie-up scheduled to go live on 1 June.

Addleshaws posted revenues of £201.8m in 2015-16. Once the merger with HBJ takes effect, the firm will have roughly 230 partners, more than 1,100 lawyers and a combined fee income of around £224m.

The firm has also been looking to the US for merger opportunities, and held talks with Virginia headquartered firm Hunton & Williams last year. However, those talks stalled over the summer in the aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.