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The news that private equity house CVC Capital Partners – one of the UK’s biggest players – has just raised a £2.3bn fund for pan-European deals is a significant development for firms with buy-out practices.The fact that it comes a mere two years after CVC closed an earlier £2bn fund, money that it has already invested, is a sign of the speed at which restructuring is taking place in Europe. It also shows the scale of investment that CVC’s management expects to be making in the future.With US private equity specialists also having substantial war chests at their disposal, the logic in having a presence on the ground to take advantage of this is more compelling than ever. And for those firms targeting the higher end of the buy-out market, the need to establish a track record early is key. This drove Ashurst Morris Crisp to end its relationship with Italian ally Negri-Clementi – frustrated by the reluctance of the Italian firm to move to closer integration – and to open in Milan last month with a couple of corporate partners from Pavia e Ansaldo. As with its Paris and Frankfurt offices, where Ashursts has made a number of lateral hires, the new practice’s principal focus will be on private equity work.Practices that have concentrated on the domestic UK market – still reasonably buoyant as shown by last week’s £242m buy-out of business travel company Hogg Robinson – might still come to regret their lack of European presence.

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