A&O lures corporate ace away from Cuatrecasas

UK firm makes second high-profile hire in eighteen months; major clients are part of the package

Spanish firm Cuatrecasas has suffered the loss of one of Spain's most respected corporate lawyers to Allen & Overy (A&O). Fernando Torrente, the director of corporate finance at Cuatr-ecasas, who is known as 'Mr IPO' in the Spanish market, has been poached by A&O to head up its corporate department in Madrid.
Cuatrecasas declined to comment on Torrente's decision to leave the firm. Torrente has had leading roles on initial public offerings (IPOs) undertaken by Grupo Ferrovial, Codere SA and Retevisión. He had a leading role on Spain's first ever hostile takeover, that of Hidroeléctrica del Cantábrico, for joint bidder EnBW, and he also acts for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, having previously worked there in-house, which will consolidate A&O's relationship with the client.
A&O's Spanish office is a minnow compared with the mighty Cuatrecasas. A&O has five partners and 23 fee-earners and made just over £3m last year; while Cuatrecasas, Spain's second-largest firm, with 75 partners and 562 fee-earners, turned over £64m.
But with just five partners, A&O's Madrid office made average profits per partner of £280,000 last year, almost double that of Cuatrecasas, whose partners made £150,000 on average.
Torrente is the second high-profile lateral hire for A&O's Spanish office in the last 18 months. In 2001, the firm hired highly-rated Clifford Chance corporate finance partner Iñigo Gomez Jordana to co-head its office in Madrid. Clifford Chance, which has 19 partners and 127 fee-earners in Spain, posted average profits per partner in Spain last year of just £85,000.
Torrente will have a team of 15 fee-earners working for him at A&O.
As well as the Morgan Stanley relationship, Torrente has strong relationships with Lehman Brothers and Span-ish airline Iberia.
“We're hopeful that the clients who have developed relationships with Fernando will continue to have good relationships with him,” said A&O Madrid managing partner Graham Donnell.
Leading corporate lawyers in Spain contacted by The Lawyer confirmed Torrente's standing in the market. “He is someone who is well regarded in the market, primarily on the finance side,” said one.
“He is an excellent corporate lawyer. Cuatrecasas will miss him,” said another.