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Ashurst Morris Crisp's Madrid office has taken on the entire corporate practice and profit centre of Spanish corporate and regulatory firm Ariño y Almoguera.
The move will more than double the number of Ashursts lawyers in Spain. Jesús Almoguera, head of corporate and name partner at Ariño y Almoguera, is joining Ashursts with four of his Spanish associates. The hires will bring the number of lawyers at Ashursts' four-lawyer Madrid office to nine. Almoguera owns the corporate practice of Ariño y Almoguera, which is a separate profit centre to the regulatory part of the firm, which is run by the other name partner Gaspar Ariño. This means that Almoguera is free to take all his clients to Ashursts, a move that could significantly build up the firm's domestic client base in Madrid. "Jésus's clients are Jésus's clients," said Ashursts Madrid managing partner Duncan Stiles. "We hope they will continue the relationship with him at Ashursts. He has a good range of domestic clients." Until now, Ashursts' Madrid office mainly serviced the firm's international clients. For example, the Madrid office was brought in to advise Cinven on its acquisition of two chemical divisions of Burmah Castrol for £204m, which was a cross-border deal for Ashursts. The Madrid office also takes regular instructions from Ashursts' offices in London, Paris and Frankfurt, said Stiles. Stiles would not comment on whether the firm has worked for any domestic clients, but said: "Jésus gives us a greatly enhanced ability to source more purely Spanish work." Almoguera's split from Ariño y Almoguera seems an amicable one. As well as taking on the firm's entire corporate profit centre, Ashursts' Madrid office has also set up an exclusive referral arrangement with Ariño. Ariño has 11 lawyers left working for him under the new name Ariño y Asociados. The arrangement will involve Ashursts and Ariño y Asociados working together on regulatory, finance and corporate work. Stiles was unable to comment fully on the financial reasons behind this exclusive referral arrangement. But according to Stiles, both the referral arrangement and acquiring Almoguera's entire corporate profit centre were an unexpected coup for Ashursts. "We were looking to expand our Spanish law practice through lateral hires, but never expected this. We were looking at a range of highly-rated individuals, but as the recruitment market is very difficult at the moment in Spain, we were not expecting to expand so quickly," said Stiles. According to Stiles, the firm's next plan for Madrid could be the lateral hire of tax lawyers, although it remains uncertain as to when this would happen.