A&O scores in Germany and US

Allen & Overy's international practice has scored a double coup, hiring a top US lawyer to beef up its project finance practice in the US, and poaching a partner from a top German law firm.

The firm recruited New York-based Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCoy project finance partner David Slade in a bid to stake its place in the fast-growing international project finance arena. And it has also made its mark on the German market by hiring Peter Hein from leading German firm Bruckhaus Westrick Stegeman.

The firm is planning to further shake-up its New York operation by redeploying the current head of its Frankfurt office, project finance and New York-qualified partner Carl Sheldon, to head up its US office. David Reid, who presently heads the office, will return to London.

In a further move to signal its determination to compete with US firms for project finance work, Allen & Overy will transfer New York-qualified partner Andrew Ballheimer from Tokyo to New York.

The acquisition of Hein is believed to be the first time a UK firm has penetrated a top four German law firm.

Hein, a structured finance specialist, will be joined by English associate Gill Driscoll, who is also defecting from Bruckhaus.

The New York recruit, Slade, is currently in charge of Milbank's Moscow operations, though he is based in New York. He said he was making the move from Milbank because he felt English firms were leaping ahead of American ones in Russia by starting full-scale Russian practices in Moscow.

A rival US lawyer in Moscow claimed Milbank's Moscow

office had never really recovered from the departure of managing partner Richard Bernard several years ago. A securities lawyer, he went to work for the Russian government body that regulates the securities trade.

Graham Vinter, Allen & Overy's head of project finance, said of the latest New York move that Slade was needed to build up a law project finance group.

He said: “The trouble is that you put a lot of effort into preparing a transaction in English law and then the client is suddenly told by a government or an export credit agency that it has to be in New York law. If we don't have the expertise, we lose the client to an American firm. It works the other way for Americans.”

Allen & Overy is also expanding its Singapore office with the addition of capital markets partner Andrew Harrow, who will join the office this month.

The move means that in the space of only three months the office will have expanded from one partner and five associates to four partners and 10 associates.

In July, project finance associate Fiona Rice was made up to partner, joining office head Jonathan Mellor. At the beginning of August, a second project finance partner, Chris Rushton, was appointed from the firm's Hong Kong office.

Harrow, the latest recruit, is a capital markets specialist. Mellor said the office had been increasing its banking and cross-border corporate work.