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Herbert Smith is set to launch in Madrid next month with a triple partner hire from Linklaters’ Spanish base.

Corporate partner Alvaro Sainz, energy and infrastructure partner Miguel Riano and administration law partner Ignacio Paz will join directly from Linklaters over the next few weeks. In addition, disputes specialist Ignacio Diez-Picazo, who was previously a senior consultant with Linklaters but left the magic circle firm last year, will join as a partner.

Riano is one of four sector leaders for Linklaters global infrastructure and construction sector group. In addition, Riano and Sainz were formerly members of Linklaters’ Madrid management committee.

Herbert Smith London finance partner David Wyles will relocate to Spain to form a management committee for the office alongside Sainz and Riano. He will also build up a local finance practice.

The firm is looking to grow the office through further lateral hires as well as relocations from its other offices. It is expected that one or two finance associates will join from London.

The firm said the launch comes in response to demand from multinational clients and is part of a strategy to selectively expand internationally.

The office will focus on M&A, energy, infrastructure, disputes and finance work and will target Iberian clients as well as the firm’s international clients doing business in the region. Herbert Smith clients who have carried out Spanish work have previously included Telefonica, BAA, Yell and Vodafone.

Herbert Smith senior partner David Gold told Legal Week: “It has been a careful process to reach the launch. We knew that the team was high quality but we also wanted to be sure that they would fit in well. The world is of course in the midst of a serious economic downturn so the partnership had to be sure that this was the right time to make such a strategic investment. I am delighted by the support management got from the partnership to proceed.”

The Madrid launch comes after Spanish leader Cuatrecasas Goncalves Pereira abandoned discussions to join Herbert Smith’s European alliance, which also includes German firm Gleiss Lutz and Benelux firm Stibbe. Talks had been ongoing over the last few years and are understood to not have been fully abandoned until early last year. Since then Herbert Smith has targeted a launch on the ground.

A Herbert Smith spokesperson said that it values its relationship with Cuatrecasas as well as other Spanish firms that it has worked with, and that the two firms will remain on good terms.

Gold added: “If Cuatrecasas had been interested in doing something more than just having a good-friends relationship we would probably have gone down the alliance route – with them joining the alliance. We knew our relationship with Cuatrecasas, while good, was not going anywhere else.”

The Linklaters partners are set to leave in mid-May and Herbert Smith expects the Madrid base to be up and running sometime during the month. Following the departures, Linklaters will be left with 12 partners in the Spanish capital, as it is also promoting two new partners as of 1 May.

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