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Petkovic was Mayer Brown's first English-qualified partner hire when he arrived from Stephenson Harwood four years ago.
He says he received about a dozen approaches from headhunters last year.
"I find Chadbournes' strong entrepreneurial culture very attractive. My practice is a structured finance practice with a mix of capital markets and projects work.
"Its project finance brand name will help me and my skills in capital markets and structured products will help them."
William Greason, who took over as London managing partner in 1998, will increase the size of the office to 11 lawyers, including three English-qualified partners, once Petkovic arrives.
Greason says: "We have had healthy growth here and in other offices. With Petkovic we are not just adding a body to transactions. We wanted his experience in a broad range of project finance and capital markets work, as well as UK law aspects."
Ian Coles, partner in charge at Mayer Brown's London office, says: "Denis' principal practice area is equity derivatives in emerging markets. When that work took a dip about 18 months ago the practice took a dip.
"Chadbournes offered him the chance to do project finance and he took it."