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Simmons Blames Global Crisis as Firm Pulls Plug in Moscow
Simmons & Simmons is to pull out of Russia little more than two years after launching its Moscow office.
The top 15 U.K. firm will start shutting down the branch office after putting the closure to a partnership vote this week.
The exit will see four Russian lawyers and a further four business support staff made redundant, with the office head, capital markets partner Tony Smith, set to relocate to London in December.
Simmons said the decision to close the office was based on the turmoil in the global financial markets.
The firm only launched in Moscow in September 2007, with the hire of Renaissance Capital general counsel Konstantin Orlov as a finance partner, marking Simmons' intention to build the office around structured finance.
In the wake of the financial downturn, Simmons started scaling back the office in earnest this spring, laying off three corporate and finance associates and two support staff in March. It also relocated four lawyers back to London, including corporate partner Isabella Roberts, with London finance partner David Nelligan no longer splitting his time with Moscow.
Orlov agreed to part with Simmons over the summer as part of the downsizing plans and it is currently unclear what his next move is.
Simmons managing partner Mark Dawkins told Legal Week: "Our firm strategy is to build on our strengths and we had built the Moscow office around structured finance. We do not see activity returning."
Simmons' move makes it one of the first major international firms to pull out of Moscow, although a number have slimmed down operations.
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