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National firm DLA has hired Nicholson Graham & Jones (NGJ) real estate partner Mark Phillips as the national giant shakes up its banking team with the integration of its property finance practice.Phillips’ appointment brings DLA’s national banking practice to 17 partners, ten of whom work from the London office. Before joining NGJ, Phillips qualified with Hopgood & Ganim in Brisbane, Australia, moving to the UK in 1989.The appointment comes as DLA is shaking up its banking practice through the integration of its specialist real estate finance group, which is led by partner Marc Smith.The move is evidence of growing demand for property finance advice and the increasing blurring between corporate and tax techniques and traditional property work.DLA national head of banking Michael Collins said: “We discovered we were doing a lot more real estate finance work than we had originally realised because it was broken up into pieces around various departments. We were missing a trick by not showing customers the strength and depth we had.”DLA, whose banking clients include Barclays, RBS and Paribas, has in recent years moved to broaden its banking practice beyond its traditional strength in acquisition finance to create a broad church capability.Collins added that he expected the department to expand further in the future. “We’ve built the business up from £3m-£4m turnover to £12 in the last three or four years. From there we have plans to build up to £17m turnover in the next three years.”

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