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Investment bank ING Barings is beefing up its European securitisation capability and taking on a partner from the London office of Sidley & Austin.
Robert Plehn, a US-qualified partner who has been in London for seven years, will take up the newly-created post of managing director and head of European securitisation.
The post, which is one that would normally be occupied by a banker, gives Plehn a team of 16 - nine in London, three in Amsterdam and four in Dublin.
In securitisation, law firms are not selected by the in-house legal departments but by the bank teams, so Plehn will have responsibility for choosing which law firm the investment bank works with. Its panel currently includes Allen & Overy, Freshfields, Clifford Chance, Mayer Brown & Platt and Sidley & Austin.
Plehn has worked closely with ING Barings throughout his time in London, and the bank is a key Sidley & Austin client in both London and the US.
ING Barings' global head of securitisation Ken Cox says: "Securitisation is now being used across the board in Europe in many different forms, and these transactions are very technically demanding, particularly as more and more cross-border stuff is being done.
"Robert's experience in doing this is unique and is an extremely strong calling card from a cross-border perspective."
Plehn says: "What a lot of the banks are finding is that the lawyers are the ones with a lot of experience. The banks are specialised in one product or another, whereas lawyers get involved with all services.
"It's difficult on the banks' side to find people with a broad range of experience, but lawyers act for lots of banks and so have a broader experience of products."
Two years ago Clifford Chance head of finance Robert Palache quit legal practice for a similar position. He became director and joint head of securitisations at the principal finance group for Japanese investment bank Nomura (The Lawyer, 1 September 1998).
ING Barings is targeting four specific areas of securitisation: consumer finance, residential mortgage business, lease transactions and trade finance.
To replace Plehn in the US securitisation practice, Sidley & Austin is drafting in Marc Wassermann, the head of the firm's Washington DC securitisation practice. Wassermann was instrumental in founding the London securitisation practice in 1993, which now boasts 40 lawyers focusing on securitisation and structured finance transactions, 12 of whom are partners.
US-qualified securitisation partner Dennis Dillon is also moving in from Singapore (The Lawyer, 11 September), and Wassermann will bring two US-qualified associates with him.
Co-head of the London international finance group Howard Waterman says: "Marc will take over the relationships, and we had decided anyway that we were going to boost our US law capability in London."