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Latham & Watkins has raided Ashurst's Munich office to hire three lawyers, including private equity heavyweight Jörg Kirchner, to launch its own local presence.
It is understood that the US firm plans to launch a Munich office early in the New Year to run alongside its existing offices in Hamburg and Frankfurt.
Kirchner, previously joint head of corporate in Germany at Ashurst, will head Latham's new office. He will be supported by tax partner Stephan Süß and employment partner Claudia Heins, who also moved across from Ashurst. The raid on Ashurst leaves the silver circle firm with only two partners on the ground in its Munich office - litigator Karl Wach and IP/IT specialist Manja Epping. The firm is now likely to run its German operations out of Frankfurt.
The losses follow that of Kirchner's number two, rising corporate star Andreas Hoffmann, who left Ashurst in April to join the in-house team at General Electric.
Latham has not previously had a very strong private equity capability in Germany. Kirchner's experience includes advising key Latham client Carlyle Group. He also has a longstanding relationship with Bain Capital, most recently advising on its aborted €1.4bn (£950m) acquisition of Ruhrgas.