DLA Piper confirmed Wednesday that it plans to bolster its Paris office by acquiring Frieh Bouhenic, a corporate boutique with 26 lawyers.
Frieh Bouhenic specializes in corporate matters, including M&A, private equity, and finance, as well as litigation, employment, and restructuring. The corporate boutique is led by former Linklaters private equity and M&A partner Michel Frieh who, along with DLA employment partner Bijan Eghbal, will jointly head the new office.
The addition is to become effective at the beginning of October, DLA said in its announcement, and will bring the firm’s head count in Paris office to more than 70 lawyers, including more than 30 partners.
“Paris is one of the key markets in Europe for DLA Piper and this move, in addition to the significant hires we have already made, adds to our existing corporate and finance capabilities,” Ulrich Juengst, who is managing director of DLA’s European operations, said in a statement released by the firm.
U.K. legal publication The Lawyer reported earlier this week that DLA was in discussions regarding the merger. DLA has seen slow expansion in Paris since the firm made a pre-recession announcement in 2007 that it wanted to double the size of its office there within two to three years (At the time, DLA had about 43 lawyers in Paris.) In 2008, DLA added seven lawyers in the French capital from Proskauer Rose—a group that included litigation partner Jean-Philippe Sorba, who now serves as DLA’s managing partner for France. In 2010, the firm also hired a team of five Paris attorneys from Bird & Bird led by intellectual property partner Stéphane Lemarchand.
The Paris move is DLA’s latest attempt at international growth and comes on the heels of its May addition of a 15-person team, including five partners, from Italy’s Studio Legale Grimaldi e Associati. Earlier this year, DLA also announced it had brought on a four-partner group from Thompson & Knight in order to launch operations in Mexico City.
Eghbal praised the Paris expansion in a statement: “We are very enthusiastic about this strategic added capacity in Paris which represents an outstanding opportunity for our corporate and restructuring practices.”
As The Am Law Daily has noted in the past, Frieh is considered one of Europe’s top private equity and M&A attorneys. He founded his own firm, Frieh & Associés, in 2007—three years after joining Linklaters from Willkie Farr & Gallagher‘s Paris office. At the beginning of last year, he merged his own shop with that of former Weil, Gotshal & Manges litigation partner Pierre-Alain Bouhénic. Their combined firm has had a hand in a number of deals involving banking and private equity clients since merging, including advising a group of investors on a $3 billion acquisition of a stake in engineering company Spie from French private equity firm PAI Partners, in May 2011.
In a statement provided by DLA, Frieh said that joining forces with DLA would give the attorneys at his firm the ability “to initiate the next step of our development which includes the diversification of our client base and the accessing of an exceptional international platform.”