Bust-up at Luxembourg’s Bonn Schmitt Steichen gives birth to two firms

Luxembourg independent Bonn Schmitt Steichen has split in two after a disagreement over the firm’s management and strategy.

The firm terminated its partnership agreement in June 2011 and the two new firms, Bonn & Schmitt and Bonn Steichen & Partners, came into existence with the new year.

The split saw two partners, former managing partner Alex Schmitt and Guy Arendt, set up Bonn & Schmitt. Schmitt and Arendt were joined by another 27 lawyers at Bonn & Schmitt. Former Bonn Schmitt Steichen lawyers Lionel Noguera, Marcus Peter and Alain Grosjean have become partners at the new firm.

Bonn Steichen & Partners is led by Alain Steichen with another seven former Bonn Schmitt Steichen partners and just over 40 associates and counsel.

Both firms are continuing to use the name of the late Alex Bonn, who founded the firm that became Bonn Schmitt. The firm, led at the time by Schmitt and Arendt, merged in 1999 with Steichen’s firm.

Prior to the split Bonn Schmitt Steichen had advised on deals such as the 2008 takeover of Arcelor by Mittal Steel and the acquisition of Fortis by BNP Paribas.

Noguera, who has become managing partner of Bonn & Schmitt, said he believed the Schmitt side of the split had “inherited a balanced pyramid” of staff.

“The split happened with limited client disruption, if any,” Noguera added.

He said the firm had hired three lawyers and consultants to bulk up its tax capability, as most of Bonn Schmitt Steichen’s tax lawyers had joined Steichen, but that this practice area had been the only gap in the firm’s capabilities.

Meanwhile, Steichen said he believed Bonn Schmitt Steichen should have pursued a more corporate-style strategy and internal disagreement over this led to the break-up.

He said he was happy with the capabilities of Bonn Steichen & Partners. “I’m very optimistic in terms of what we’re able to do,” he said.