Dechert has hired a four-lawyer team from Cadwalader’s Brussels office as it moves to boost its European competition practice, leaving Cadwalader with six lawyers in the city.

The team, which joined Dechert today (10 January), is led by office head Alec Burnside (pictured), who joined Cadwalader from Linklaters in 2011 to launch the Brussels base for the US firm.

He is moving to Dechert alongside special counsel Anne MacGregor, who joins Dechert as a national partner, and associates Marjolein De Backer and Adam Kidane.

The hires significantly boost Dechert’s European competition practice, which also counts lawyers in Paris and Germany.

Dechert competition co-leader Michael Weiner said: “Alec is on everyone’s shortlist of outstanding competition law practitioners in Brussels. It’s a significant addition to the number of people in Brussels, but we will operate as a European team. We’re not finished expanding yet as there’s a growing need for European advice. The idea is that we need to have at least five first-rate partners in Europe as a minimum.”

Burnside is well known in competition circles for work including representing Aer Lingus on the defence of Ryanair’s repeated hostile bids and associated appeals. He is currently advising complainants including Getty Images in abuse of dominance proceedings against Google and previously worked on the mergers that created GlaxoSmithKline and BAE Systems.

He said: “There’s a big synergy between us and Dechert’s US antitrust practice, which is top-rated. Our antitrust practice here is evenly spread across mergers, cartels, abuse of dominance and state aid and all of that is going to come together with Dechert – it’s very exciting.”

Dechert has been expanding rapidly internationally in recent months. In November last year it hired Kirkland finance partner John Markland and White & Case private equity partner Ross Allardice for its City base.

Those hires came after a run of recruitment including Clifford Chance litigation partner Stephen Surgeoner and DLA Piper finance partners Philip Butler and David Miles.

In contrast, Cadwalader has been shrinking outside the US. Last week Legal Week reported that the firm’s former managing partner Rocky Lee and Hong Kong capital markets partner Stephen Chan had found new homes at King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) and Dechert respectively, following the closure of the firm’s Beijing and Hong Kong offices.

Following the Brussels departures, Cadwalader now has one partner, one special counsel and four associates in the Belgian capital, according to the firm’s website.

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