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Paris boutique to look for UK best friend as corporate star targets global work
French M&A star Henri Brandford-Griffith is leaving niche firm Veil Armfelt Jourde La Garanderie to set up on his own. Brandford-Griffith will be joined by name partners of the new firm Nicolas Baverez from Franklin, and Thierry Cotty, who previously had his own firm Cotty et Associés. Diane Pasturel will join as a partner from Pasturel et Associés and Nigel Hartridge and Vanina Paolaggi both join as partners from Veil Armfelt. They will be boosted by 10 associates. The new firm, which will be named Brandford-Griffith Baverez Cotty, will focus on stock exchange law, M&A, public sector law and litigation. Brandford-Griffith, who is taking his entire M&A group at Veil Armfelt with him, said he decided to leave because his group was disconnected from the rest of the firm. He said: "I've been trying to organise the team so that I had the option to grow them, but we're a different type of lawyer and we do a different type of work [from the rest of Veil Armfelt]. "Veil's not very internationally-minded, but I have an international clientele; I want to link up with other firms, do things with other people and do work with Anglo-Saxon firms." The firm already has links with US firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Brandford-Griffith plans to set up contacts with UK firms. He anticipates that although the new firm will not be able to compete with Anglo-Saxon firms on a global basis, it will still keep pace with them in France. He is modelling the firm on niche M&A firm Bredin Prat & Associés, but some market sources question whether, with M&A activity in retreat, there is room for another competitor. Brandford-Griffith has been involved in most of France's high-profile M&A deals. He advised TotalFina on its bid for Elf Aquitaine, BNP on its merger clash with Société Générale and Paribas, TotalFinaElf on its complimentary offer on Fina, and Allianz on its bid for AGF. Other clients include Renault and Axa. He was also involved in the privatisations of Aer-ospatiale and Crédit Lyonnais. The departures will leave Veil Armfelt with 13 partners, and it will continue to have a general M&A capacity, mainly in private M&A and private equity. Veil Armfelt managing partner Jean Veil was unavailable for comment.