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US-BASED international firm Coudert Brothers has taken the first step in building a UK tax and funds practice by hiring Clifford Chance tax specialist James Benger.
Articled at Clifford Turner (now Clifford Chance), Benger spent eight years with the firm before joining Couderts London office this month.
He is concentrating on structuring on- and off-shore investment funds, the taxation of UK fund management operations, international tax and general UK corporate tax.
Benger says the firm will soon recruit a second lawyer for the project, which he hopes will create a "pre-eminent UK funds practice".
"I thought that Couderts international presence - particularly in Asia - and its credible US presence was the ideal base upon which to build a funds practice in London," says Benger.
"The US market is becoming more and more important for international funds and Couderts have the expertise in that jurisdiction.
"Couderts has a substantial funds practice outside the UK and it is my role to sell it to UK sponsors and UK fund managers."
Couderts London administrative partner, Steven Beharrell, says that the firm's strategy in London and other major financial centres is to develop its financial and securities practice alongside its commercial and corporate expertise.
"In London we have identified three priorities: funds work, structured finance and project finance," explains Beharrell.
"Among those, funds work is the number one priority due to our substantial existing practice out of the New York and Asian offices.
"James Benger's expertise is particularly relevant to this requirement because he has extensive funds and capital markets experience as well as being a very bright, well-trained, broadly-based tax practitioner."