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Herbert Smith has swooped on Denton Wilde Sapte's (DWS) acquisition finance team and hired two of the firm's remaining three leveraged specialists.
Chris Fanner and Ian Yeo resigned from DWS last week, leaving new partner Catherine Astruc in charge of the group. Their departure dates are understood to be subject to negotiation.
The move has underlined Herbert Smith's determination to grow its finance practice under new practice leader Jason Fox.
In August, The Lawyer reported that senior partner David Gold had set an aggressive growth target for the finance division, saying that it should account for 20 per cent of total firm revenue. Herbert Smith's finance group currently generates £22.5m, or 8.5 per cent, of the total turnover.
At DWS, Fanner and Yeo acted for Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS, ABN Amro, Lloyds TSB and Royal Bank of Canada. Yeo arrived at DWS in 2003, having been a senior associate at Clifford Chance in Frankfurt.
Herbert Smith declined to comment, but a DWS spokesperson said: "We have one of the biggest banking and finance practices in the City, with more than 30 partners working across 10 practice areas. We act for nine of the world's top 10 banks, and two partners aren't going to have any meaningful impact on our business.
"It defies logic that they're leaving at a time when profits are up 30 per cent and climbing."