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Larry George, the senior legal adviser for BP Oil International, has been poached by Denton Hall to head its Moscow office.
George replaces Blanche Sas, who set up Dentons' Moscow office in 1993 and is returning to the London office after her three-year secondment.
Dentons set up the office to work with international energy clients considering investing in CIS countries.
One of Dentons' clients, Rosneft, has as many reserves as BP. The office also handles general corporate work and employs a local corporate lawyer, Igor Pozhitkov.
Malcolm Groom, London energy group partner, said: "Larry has had managerial experience: he spent some time in Singapore managing BP's Singapore trading office. When you are in a place like Moscow you need managerial nous - you need to be a fairly tough sort of guy. Larry is that."
George said: "I have been wanting to go into private practice and I have always been interested in Russia and things Russian so this job fits very nicely. I am looking forward to it."