Gleiss Lutz extends reach across Europe with Hungarian contract

Herbert Smith best friend Gleiss Lutz has expanded its Central and Eastern European network in the wake of EU enlargement.

The firm has signed an exclusive alliance with Hungarian firm Ban S Szabo & Partners.

The tripartite Herbert Smith-Gleiss-Stibbe alliance put in place office-sharing arrangements last year. Gleiss now refers all Asian work to Herbert Smith, while Herbert Smith uses Gleiss’s offices in Warsaw and Prague.

The three firms have a complex web of individual alliances. For instance, Herbert Smith works closely with Vinge in Sweden; similarly, the Ban deal does not formally extend to Herbert Smith and Stibbe.

Ban had an alliance with Altheimer & Gray until the Chicago firm’s spectacular collapse last year. The firm was previously part of Shearman & Sterling, but became independent when the US firm pulled out of Budapest in the mid-1990s.

Together with Moquet Borde, which is understood to be close to finalising a merger agreement with Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker, Ban is one of the most highly-regarded firms in Hungary.

Gleiss has worked with Moquet Borde in the past, but the firm’s Hungarian office is now likely to join up with Paul Hastings.

Gleiss corporate star Gerhard Wegen said Ban is particularly attractive because it has high-calibre domestic clients as well as an inward investment capability. The Hungarian firm offers full service with an emphasis on M&A.

Alongside its informal alliance with Austrian firm Schonherr, the deal gives Gleiss coverage of most of Central and Eastern Europe.