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Clifford Chance has raided Lovells' German practice for a five-strong private equity team, including German private equity head Oliver Felsenstein.
As revealed exclusively on www.thelawyer.com (20 September), Felsenstein quit the firm last week to move to Clifford Chance's Frankfurt office. Felsenstein is taking a team of four associates with him. Clifford Chance's German private equity team now numbers 12 partners throughout three offices.
Clifford Chance Frankfurt head Christopher Kellett told The Lawyer: "We have a strong practice here. It's a busy market and we see scope for expansion."
Felsenstein's departure will come as a blow to Lovells, which has been making efforts to consolidate its European corporate practice.
Felsenstein is understood to be one of the biggest billers in Germany and the firm's highest profile corporate partner. He has worked on a series of big ticket private equity deals for Lovells, including Terra Firma's acquisition of Viterra, which, at €7bn (£4.72bn), is Germany's big-gest ever private equity deal. He has also advised Quadriga on its €93m (£62.8m) acquisition of Jack Wolfskin and Doughty Hanson & Co on its sale of ATU to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Joachim Habetha will take over from Felsenstein. He has won a number of instructions from Advent, including its acquisitions of HT Troplast and the Moeller group.
A Lovells spokesperson confirmed Felsenstein's departure, but declined to comment further.
Oliver Felsenstein's move to Clifford Chance shocked the German market. The magic circle firm's German operation has tended to shy away from lateral hires. The question now is how Felsenstein is going to fit into his new home. Clifford Chance's Frankfurt bureau already has a full comple- ment of private equity rainmakers, such as Mario Schmidt, while the Munich office is in need of a boost since the departure of Volker Kullmann last year to Kirkland & Ellis. For Lovells, both in terms of billing and symbolically, Felsenstein's move leaves its corporate practice considerably weakened and could leave it vulnerable to further raids on its partnership.