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King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin’s (KWMSJB) Rudiger Knopf has stepped down from his post after 16 years as German managing partner.
Knopf intends to return his focus to client activity, within his specialist area of M&A.
He will be replaced by a pair of co-managing partners, Sonya Pauls, who leads the firm’s international funds practice in Germany and heads up its Munich office, and Stefan Krüger who leads the firm’s German IP practice from Frankfurt.
Kruger was recently appointed as a member of the King & Wood Mallesons 12-strong International Management Committee, and also holds a place on the KWMSJB management board.
Kruger said in a statement: “With the increasing trade links between Germany, Europe and the Asia Pacific region and Germany’s position as an RMB trade centre, we are seeing increasing client demand to provide innovative structures. Rudiger having successfully led the German practice since 1998, sees his role as client first at this critical time. We thank him for his leadership.”
The region’s new co-heads intend to further develop the business in Germany, in terms of lateral hires, strategic focus and market presence.
KWMSJB is already in the process of bulking up its presence in the region, hiring former Linklaters partner Franz Schaefer into its Munich corporate team. Schaefer spent 12 years at his former firm, specialising in German and international M&A both for private equity and mainstream corporate clients.
Linklaters’ managing associate Martina Wind is also set to join Schaefer at KWMSJB, picking up the mantle of counsel at her new firm.
Schefer noted: “We see the inbound and outbound investment between Germany and China as a unique opportunity for our clients and the corporate practice as a whole and we feel this plays to our strengths.”