Linklaters has been rocked by the defection of the bulk of its Paris capital markets practice to White & Case, The Am Law Daily has learned.
Partners Gilles Endréo, Cenzi Gargaro, Philippe Herbelin, and Séverin Robillard are set to join White & Case alongside associate Thomas Le Vert, who is also moving as a partner. A White & Case spokesman confirmed that all five have signed contracts with their new firm, but said their start date is still being negotiated.
A senior Linklaters partner with knowledge of the situation says the team left the Magic Circle firm after growing frustrated with its global management, which had declined repeated requests to invest in the practice by hiring a new partner. Linklaters now has just two dedicated capital markets partners in Paris: Luis Roth and securitization specialist Patrice Doat, who joined the U.K. firm from top French practice Gide Loyrette Nouel in 2011. (Linklaters said in a statement: "We wish the team well. We have a very strong capital markets practice globally, and we have plans in place for its continued development." The five departing lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.)
White & Case executive committee member Oliver Brettle says that his firm has been looking to expand its underweight French capital markets offering for more than a year. High yield specialist Colin Chang relocated from London in early 2012 in order to bolster the firm’s ranks in Paris, but the bulk of its local equity capital markets work is still handled by general corporate partners.
“We have been aware for some time that we were significantly under-resourced in capital markets in Paris,” says Brettle. “We have a very strong commitment to the French market and recognize its importance as part of a wider European and global [capital markets] offering.”
In addition to debt and equity capital markets, the new arrivals will also advise clients on international finance, derivatives, and structured finance matters. Brettle declined to comment on whether additional associates will be arriving from Linklaters to supplement the newly expanded practice, but says White & Case is “looking at staffing very carefully." The local group leadership structure is also still being discussed, he adds.
White & Case global chair Hugh Verrier said in a statement that growing the firm’s global capital markets offering was a key “strategic priority." The firm has added 21 new partners to the group since the beginning of 2011, including 14 lateral hires and seven internal promotions.
Global capital markets head Stuart Matty, meanwhile, says the group joining from Linklaters represents “an important milestone” in the development of the firm’s practice in western Europe. Having previously closed the last of its three Italian offices in 2008, White & Case relaunched in Milan in 2011 following the hire of Latham & Watkins capital markets partner Michael Immordino.
The Italian office recently advised banking group Intesa Sanpaolo on a $3.5 billion bond issue, and the underwriters on a €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) rights issue by financial services company Unipol Gruppo Finanziario. Other transactional highlights for the firm’s global practice group include serving as cocounsel with Allen & Overy to a steering committee composed of private holders of Greek government bonds on the €206 billion ($270 billion) restructuring of Greece’s sovereign debt.
It is the second time that White & Case has raided Linklaters this month. New York M&A partner Daniel Dufner rejoined the firm on February 1, roughly four years after he moved to Linklaters.
White & Case saw its profits per partner climb by more than 15 percent to a record $1.7 million in 2012, according to reporting by The American Lawyer. The increase in profits came as the firm’s gross revenue grew 4 percent, to $1.38 billion; its revenue per lawyer rose 4.3 percent, to a record $730,000; and its costs fell by more than 1 percent. Linklaters, meanwhile, had gross revenues of roughly $1.9 billion and profits per partner of roughly $1.9 million in the most recent year for which data is available, according to The American Lawyer‘s Global 100 ranking.
For more reporting on the latest Am Law 200 firm financial results, click here.