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German firm Hengeler Mueller Weitzel Wirtz has rebranded itself as part of a modernisation drive that seeks to emphasise the firm’s international links.The famously traditional firm will market itself as Hengeler Mueller and has made a commitment to US firm Davis Polk & Wardwell and Slaughter and May in its new marketing material.Another German firm to rebrand is Wessing, which dropped the Berenberg-Gossler from its name this year in a modernisation bid. The names of many other German firms have also been shortened, but this is primarily due to mergers with Anglo-Saxon firms.Although the link between Slaughters and Hengeler is widely accepted, the closeness of Hengeler’s relationship with Davis Polk is often questioned by rivals in London and Germany. In the ‘International Capabilities’ section of Hengeler’s website, Slaughters and Davis Polk are described as “our partners”. No other international firms are listed as referral firms.The joint marketing follows a period of strong ties between the three firms, building on secondments between the US, UK and Germany. Davis Polk’s agreement in being marketed so explicitly by Hengeler will be viewed with envy by leading City firms that have yet to form close relationships with leading New York firms. The website also lists a series of transactions in 2000 that Hengeler worked on with Slaughters and Davis Polk. No other firm Hengeler worked with last year is mentioned.Duesseldorf partner Andreas Austmann said the branding was supposed to be make the firm more competitive when pitching against international law firms. “Our relationship with Slaughters is exclusive, unless there is a conflict. With Davis Polk, it is not exclusive,” Austmann said. “We also work with Cravath Swaine & Moore and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.”

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