Freshfields admits City is king as German M&A head sets up camp in London

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has taken a complete U-turn in its investment banking strategy

For corporate and M&A work, the German practice will now concentrate on London rather than Frankfurt, to mirror the shift in focus of the investment banks themselves.
Freshfields German head of corporate Axel Epe told The Lawyer that the power balance between London and Frankfurt had shifted in some sectors as a result of downsizing, and that Freshfields has had to refocus its strategy to reflect new realities. Epe said: “We have to be where the clients are; and if for German clients this is London, we have to be there, although we won’t forget Frankfurt.”
Last year Epe moved to London on a temporary secondment, while his English co-head Barry O’Brien went to Frankfurt.
O’Brien was charged with improving relationships with the Frankfurt offices of investment banks in the wake of the departure of key Goldman Sachs relationship partner Wolfgang Feuring to Sullivan & Cromwell.
However, during Epe’s time in London, the firm decided to switch its focus back to relationships in the UK capital.
O’Brien has now returned to London permanently, while Epe will be based out of Frankfurt but will spend one day a week in the UK.
Freshfields will concentrate on its relationships with Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse First Boston and Morgan Stanley.