Australia’s Atanaskovic Hartnell launches base in City

Ten-partner Sydney Atanaskovic Hartnell has opened an office in London, reversing the trend for UK firms flocking to Australia.

The firm’s four-lawyer London team is headed by founding and managing partner John Atanaskovic, who splits his time between Sydney and London. The London office, which practises mainly English law, intends to advise blue-chip UK and European clients in sophisticated corporate, M&A, securities, contract and other commercial transactions.

Explaining the launch, Atanaskovic told The Lawyer: “Some international clients we’ve worked with for a long time in Australia have asked us to come to London to provide legal services in the same timezone and in day-light hours.”

One of the main clients behind the firm’s move to London is Glencore, the Switzerland-headquartered international mining and commodities trading company. The FTSE100 company listed on the London Stock Exchange in May 2011 after raising $10bn from its IPO.

“After raising $10bn, Glencore’s moved up a gear in acquisitions of mining companies around the world. I’ve done a lot of work for the client in different countries, such as Russia, Australia and the UK. We expect to have more M&A work for the client in the next three years,” said Atanaskovic.

In August, the firm advised Glencore on its $280m takeover of the ASX-listed Minara Resources. Aside from Atanaskovic Hartnell, Glencore regularly uses firms such as Linklaters for large transactions (18 April 2011). That said, Atanaskovic does not believe his firm will be going head-to-head with the magic circle in London.

“Our strategy is to stay small and stay focused and to concentrate on working for many important projects for our important clients who treat us well and regard us highly,” said Atanaskovic. “We like being small because we can avoid the bureaucracy and compromises in big firms.”

Prior to establishing Atanaskovic Hartnell in 1993, Atanaskovic was a partner at Allen Allen & Hemsley (now Allens Arthur Robinson) and Blake Dawson Waldron.