CC returns to BLP for second real estate revenge raid

Clifford Chance has returned to Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) to plunder its real estate practice for a second time in the latest instalment of an uneasy tit-for-tat rivalry.

Clifford Chance is taking on partner Catherine Cook from BLP. She follows real estate partner Franc Peña, who joined Clifford Chance from BLP last month (July).

The rivalry has simmered since 2004, when BLP poached Clifford Chance partner Robert MacGregor as its new head of real estate. He then returned to BLP for associates Paul Severs and Wendy Miller.

Around the same time Cook joined BLP as a partner from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which is another one of Peña’s former firms.

Cook has particular expertise in high-value corporate real estate transactions. Last month she and Peña worked on the £460m refinancing of Kandahar Real Estate for Bank of Scotland.

Clifford Chance global head of real estate Cliff McAuley said: “Catherine’s a very good fit with our practice, both in terms of culture and experience.”

A BLP spokesman said the firm wished Cook well and that the team looked forward to partner Chris De Pury’s arrival from Herbert Smith. De Pury came to an agreement with Herbert Smith last week and will leave for J Sainsbury bidder Three Delta immediately and join BLP in January.