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Clifford Chance is losing one of its most senior lawyers, leading asset finance partner Tom Budgett, which has prompted a departmental reorganisation.
Budgett is not only leaving Clifford Chance, where he has practised for the last 28 years, but is also quitting the profession. He joins leading Australian bank and long-term client ANZ as director of leasing and tax-based finance.
His departure means that the asset finance department at Clifford Chance will undergo a shake-up. The group now has four partners and nearly 40 associates, a ratio that head of the group Geoffrey White says is unbalanced.
Head of the Hong Kong asset finance group William Glaister therefore, is returning to the London office. Two associates will then be made up to partner, as of 1 May. One of the pair, Emma Casdagli, will move to Hong Kong.
The other associate, Rambir Hunjan, currently works in the project finance group, but has agreed to return to the asset finance group.
Budgett decided nearly two years ago that he wanted to leave the firm, partly because he wanted a change in lifestyle, but specifically because of his working hours.
"Part of it was wanting to see what happens on the other side of the transaction," he says. "You also need a lot of stamina, and you get to the stage where you don't want to be doing deals at 3am."
White and Budgett looked at the possibility of him working part time, but the decision was made that his workload was too transaction-heavy for such a move.
Discussions got underway with ANZ last summer through director and global head of leasing and tax-based finance Alastair Crowther. White in particular has a close relationship with Crowther - he has been advising him since 1990, when he worked for Barclays.
White says that Budgett's departure is disappointing - the two have worked together for nearly 30 years - but adds that he is confident Budgett will remain close to the firm.