Leading French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel has launched a London funds practice as it attempts to diversify a finance-focused practice that left the office brutally exposed to the rigors of the downturn. A steep decline in transactional work saw gross revenue in London drop by 51 percent to $12 million in 2009, according to the firm’s accounts. Net income for the office fell by 70 percent to $5.8 million.

“We’ve always been aware that having all our eggs in one basket as a finance boutique was perhaps not the safest business model in the world,” says London managing partner Colin Mercer, who established the office in 2003 as part of a four-partner team that joined Gide from its then-U.S. referral partner Sidley Austin. “Partly as a result of the downturn in finance and capital markets, but also as a result of our long-term strategy, we have been putting a renewed emphasis into diversifying our practice in London.”

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