In a sign that it is unbowed by Spain’s ongoing financial struggles and sees opportunity in the ailing Eurozone’s fourth-largest economy, White & Case announced this week that it is opening an office in Madrid to be led by former Latham & Watkins’s local corporate chair Juan Manuel de Remedios and counsel Yoko Takagi, who will become a local partner at her new firm.
White & Case’s move into Madrid comes three years after the firm saw more than a dozen of its partners in New York, the Middle East, and London poached by Latham. Those losses led White & Case to redeploy practice heads to new jurisdictions, according to our reports at the time. The firm subsequently took steps to offset those losses by making key investments elsewhere, including reopening in Milan with the addition of London-based Latham capital markets partners Michael Immordino and Jonathan Clark, according to our previous reports.
The returns on those investments began to bear fruit in 2012, as the firm’s gross revenue climbed 4 percent to $1.38 billion and profits per partner jumped more than 15 percent to a record $1.7 million, according to The American Lawyer‘s reporting on the finances of the nation’s largest firms.
By establishing a presence in Madrid, White & Case becomes the first major international firm to open in the city since Herbert Smith did so in 2009. The new office, White & Case’s first in Spain, is launching as the country’s largest domestic firms are struggling to weather a precipitous economic downturn, according to our previous reports.
De Remedios, a capital markets and M&A partner at Latham, will assume the title of executive partner of White & Case’s Madrid office. De Remedios was unavailable for comment Wednesday about his decision to leave Latham, although he provided a statement through a White & Case spokeswoman.
"I was attracted by the opportunity to further develop a global practice with White & Case, supporting Spanish clients with Spanish interests, across [Europe, the Middle East, and Africa] and the Americas," said de Remedios, who took the lead last year advising Japan’s Azbil on its acquisition of an 80 percent stake in Spanish life sciences equipment maker Telstar.
Several other Latham associates are expected to follow de Remedios to White & Case, which intends to use the Madrid office to bolster its cross-border corporate expertise and work with its 60 other Spanish-speaking lawyers advising clients on Spain-related matters, according to a press release and reports in the British legal trades on the firm’s new office opening.
While the Spanish economy has seen better days, some opportunities for transactional work have materialized in recent weeks. The Am Law Daily reported last month, for example, on Magic Circle firms Clifford Chance and Linklaters scoring roles on Spanish oil giant Repsol’s decision to sell $6.7 billion in liquefied natural gas assets to Royal Dutch Shell. Linklaters also advised Madrid-based Repsol on a nearly $1.4 billion deal earlier this month that saw Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings increase its stake in the company by more than 5 percent.
Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, which is also based in Madrid, turned to British firm Pinsent Masons for counsel this month on its $588 million acquisition of Leyland, England–based Enterprise Group Holdings from private equity firm 3i Group, according to U.K. publication Legal Week. In another cross-border deal, British broadcasting giant BSkyB also recently announced that it would spend roughly $303 million to acquire the U.K. broadband and fixed line phone division of Spain’s Telefonica.
While White & Case seeks to carve out a corner of the Spanish M&A market for itself, other Am Law 100 and 200 firms have been busy expanding their horizons closer to home in recent weeks.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reported this week that Hogan Lovells had signed a lease for a new office in downtown Minneapolis to be occupied by partners Christopher Walsh and Mitchell Zamoff, both of whom rejoined the firm in January from Minnetonka, Minnesota–based UnitedHealth Group. (Walsh and Zamoff have spoken with sibling publication Corporate Counsel about giving up in-house life to return to the Am Law 100 sphere.)
Cozen O’Connor is heading to Florida by opening an office in West Palm Beach after hiring a six-partner private client and wealth management team from Edwards Wildman Palmer, according to sibling publication the Daily Business Review, which also notes that leading Florida firm GrayRobinson has opened in Boca Raton after acquiring local shop Siemon & Larsen.
The Am Law Daily noted earlier this month that Venable had opened an office in Wilmington with the addition of bankruptcy partner Jamie Edmonson from Delaware’s Bayard, while regional firms Dilworth Paxson and Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott used local hires and acquisitions to open up shop in New York and Trenton, respectively, according to sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer.
The Am Law Daily also reported earlier this month on moves by a trio of Am Law 200 firms—Adams and Reese, McKenna Long & Aldridge, and Thompson & Knight—to expand through mergers with regional firms. Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton and Sedgwick did the same in California by acquiring smaller shops, according to our previous reports, while national bankruptcy boutique Diamond McCarthy announced earlier this month its opening in Los Angeles after hiring an expert on Ponzi schemes.
Reed Smith opened in Houston last month by hiring 17 attorneys from several Am Law 100 and 200 firms, according to The Intelligencer, which also noted that K&L Gates was opening in the city as well after hiring former Fulbright & Jaworski corporate partner Charles Strauss. (Fulbright is set to merge with London-based legal giant Norton Rose in June.) In January, Jackson Lewis joined several other Am Law 200 firms in getting 2013 started with a flurry of new office openings, according to our previous reports.
Farther afield, Winston & Strawn unveiled plans to branch out into Brussels in June by relocating former Dewey & LeBoeuf antitrust partner Peter Crowther from London. And Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy announced in early February its intention to expand abroad by opening five offices in Brazil, Mexico, and Switzerland.
Legal Week reported Wednesday that leading British firm Ashurst had received approval for a new Beijing office from China’s justice ministry. And Greenberg Traurig, Herbert Smith Freehills, and McKenna Long have received permission from South Korea’s justice ministry to join the flood of firms opening new bases in Seoul.