Freshfields in Paris has picked up one of Europe's leading securities lawyers in a raid on international firm Stibbe Simont Monahan Duhot & Giroux.
Patrick Bonvarlet, a partner at the Dutch/Belgian/French practice based in Paris, is set to join Freshfields as a partner on 17 April. Bonvarlet is considered one of the best corporate practitioners in France, and his move represents a major coup for Freshfields, which has expanded its Paris office by 20 per cent this year.
"We are absolutely delighted to have secured Patrick's service," says Freshfields Paris managing partner James Vaudoyer.
"We have been on the other side from him in many transactions over the years and he is extremely impressive."
Bonvarlet's expertise is in securities, particularly the equity markets, a practice area which Freshfields is keen to expand in France.
Vaudoyer says: "With the euro now in place there will be an increasing number of cross-border mergers, and we are seeing many more French companies using Initial Public Offerings rather than bank borrowing to raise funds."
Paris's CAC 400 index of shares is now the second highest capitalised in Europe. In addition, many companies in France are climbing onto the e-commerce bandwagon and looking for early listings on the so-called Marche Nouveau, the equivalent of New York's Nasdaq.
Vaudoyer says: "The new economy companies come to the markets for money very quickly. We will be looking at expanding our firm to cope with the demand, possibly by as much as 25 per cent in the next 12 months."
Freshfields has 28 partners and 140 lawyers in its Paris office.