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Maurice Allen is the man to follow. The new head of banking in London for New York-based White & Case candidly explains that he didn’t find what he was looking for at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. But he’s found it now. And so have 16 other partners and assistants (associates), from Weil Gotshal and other firms, who have joined the office this month. Allen and his colleagues have created an interesting blend: well-rated, compact UK acquisition finance and capital markets team, familiar with US firm philosophy, mixed with White & Case, a 34-office firm already noted for its multi-jurisdictional financings. The firm’s new strength in London will twin with teams in New York as the engine for international financing and securities matters which drive so many transactions throughout the White & Case network. Allen is one of London’s most closely-watched lawyers. This year, after leaving Weil Gotshal, he spent three months “in the wilderness” talking to everybody about how they might benefit from having his respected talents on board. “I was looking for two things,” says Allen. “The ability to develop my practice, but also a firm where I can really play a role � the challenge of a firm that needs you.” He sees his new team � which grows larger each day as yet another partner arrives with assistants in tow � as the missing piece in White & Case’s international arsenal. Clincher What was it that clinched the deal with White & Case? “I met with Eric Berg [a finance partner in White & Case's New York office] and discovered we did the same things for the same clients.” That’s to say, representing lead agents and underwriters in leveraged finance transactions. “With White & Case the international thing was a given. Weil, Gotshal still had in-roads to make�it needed to go to the next level”. Mike Goetz, a partner who has been with White & Case since 1986, is over here to blend the firm’s US experience in acquisition finance with its new resources in London. Goetz knows the lender/agent side of financing transactions, especially on reorganisation and bankruptcy-related issues. He recently represented Chase Manhattan and PaineWebber as arrangers for the financing of Patriot American Hospitality’s acquisition of Interstate Hotels. Being ever so trans-Atlantic about things, Allen says: “Mike’s not a US lawyer — he’s an acquisition finance lawyer -� lawyers from the two jurisdictions are largely interchangeable”. Goetz adds “We believed New York would be the hub, but that’s no longer the case. You have to develop London now and we’re doing London in a larger way.” CONNECTIONS Allen continues: “We are the London counterpart to Mike and his New York colleagues�we’re going to exploit the great connections the firm has built to service those clients in Europe”. He adds just as quickly, “This is not Weil, Gotshal & Manges Mark II. White & Case already has a good London office and a great international structure.” Goetz points out a further synergy: in the US, White & Case’s finance practice is not heavy with institutional relationships. “It’s typically more product-driven,” he says, despite long-standing clients including Bank of America. However Allen and his companions claim a more institutional client base. Does this flurry of lateral recruitment signal a change of heart, a move away from the merger route that White & Case has been following? “It takes the heat off,” says Goetz. “A merger now would change the dynamics of the new team”. It does indeed seem a dynamic team, with Allen and Goetz bouncing off each other, albeit in a slightly syncopated manner. After all, one is from Manchester, the other from Ohio. Allen’s talks around town over the last three months give him a particularly insightful perspective on mergers in the legal profession: “The market is not quite right for a real merger. There’s not the right mind-set,” he says. He believes his four years at Weil Gotshal gave him a better understanding of the way US firms operate. He says his understanding made his transition to White & Case much easier; its absence is what is holding back mergers between US and UK firms. A number of Allen’s colleagues are joining him from Weil Gotshal; others he knows from his Clifford Chance days. Does he see himself as a bandleader? He raises his eyebrows at that thought, but will say that they all share a common philosophy, built in part at Clifford Chance “which had a lot of good ideas about what makes people happy”. Further foundations of the office are being laid. It will be strengthening the tax, structured finance and private equity triad, but it’s not going to try to be full service. Says Allen: “US firms have the luxury of thinking what practice areas they really need.”

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