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Feddersen Laule Ewerwahn Scherzberg Finkelnburg Clemm's entire anti-trust team is breaking away to set up its own practice.
A team of 10 anti-trust lawyers including head of the team Josef Schulte, three senior partners, three partners and three associates have set up shop in Frankfurt.
The firm is also losing three members of its M&A team to the new firm, including senior partner Anne-Marie Peter. Enviromental and administrative partner Martin Diekmann is also leaving, for Esche Schumann & Commichau.
The departures coincide with merger talks between Feddersens and US firm White & Case. Frankfurt sources say the possible merger is creating speculation about a further split within the practice.
One source says: "We have known for some time of rumours that Feddersens was in talks with a US firm. But now it looks as if they are actually breaking up."
Feddersens has also lost M&A expert Geza Toth, who left for Weil Gotshal & Manges' London office (The Lawyer, 17 January).
Michael Ewen, one of the partners who is leaving Feddersens will not say if the decision to break away is connected to the merger talks.
But he says: "We think it is more efficient to give advice in a smaller law firm. In a big firm you are kept busy answering internal questions so it is sometimes difficult to really focus on the client's needs.