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Lovells Boesebeck Droste is losing a key partner and privatisation rainmaker to independent German firm Haarmann Hemmelrath & Partner
Werner Michael Waldeck and senior associates Michael Eifler and Christian Faßbe-nder will join Haarmanns' Frankfurt office, focusing on banking and stock exchange law, capital markets, corporate law and privatisation. The move is a coup for Haarmanns given that Waldeck is one of Germany's best-known privatisation lawyers. His clients include the Federal Government and German Railways, and in the past year he has been involved in all the major German privatisations, including the stock exchange listing of the German post office and the privatisation of the federal printing works. According Haarmanns senior partner Wilhelm Haarmann, Waldeck moved because he liked the entrepreneurial spirit of the independent German firm. "We're a young, dynamic and entrepreneurial firm and we have a performance-related remuneration system. But at Lovells there's a lockstep," he said. Haarmanns has already done a number of privatisations, but Haarmann anticipates that the hires will bring the firm in line with Fresh-fields Bruckhaus Deringer and Hengeler Mueller. The move will come as a blow to Lovells, but the firm's managing partner in Germany Oliver Felsenstein said that, although it is always sad to lose a partner, it will not damage the firm. "Eighty per cent of Waldeck's clients come from the state or from government work; and because neither have a lot of money, the work isn't hugely profitable," he said. "It is also a highly personalised practice which has been difficult to leverage," he added. "Since the merger, we have been trying to build up a team and increase the leverage, and Waldeck was always rather critical of this." Felsenstein also questioned how long the privatisation market can be sustained. "I think that it will continue to be very active for the next two to three years, but then I predict a very dramatic slowdown," he said. The departures leave Lovells with just two partners who focus on privatisation.