New York firm Cravath Swaine & Moore is sending one of its most senior partners to London and considering an expansion into London M&A work.
Rainmaker William Rogers will replace David Brown, the current head of the office, in the next few months, with a third partner to be drafted in within the next six months.
So far the office has handled only US securities work, but New York tax partner Lewis Steinberg says the practice could soon move into M&A.
“Our securities partners are very committed to an international profile, and more of them are looking for opportunities to go overseas,” says Steinberg. “You're going to see a lot of other people moving into Europe and Asia. It's possible that you may see an M&A partner in London – not necessarily in the next six months, but one day.”
Cravath Swaine is one of New York's most profitable firms, with profits per partner in 1999 of $2.1m (£1.4m). The firm follows a model very similar to Slaughter and May, with which it has a best friend relationship, and has no plans to take on English-qualified lawyers.
Steinberg says a fourth partner is planned for London in the longer term, with a lot of securities work driving a demand from clients. He says: “With the euro and the more integrated European capital markets, both our clients and ourselves think that there's a lot more opportunities [in Europe]. And, to be frank, you can't be a global securities firm without a strong presence in New York, London and Hong Kong or Singapore.”
Senior securities underwriting partner Rogers will move to London to join Philip Boeckman to spearhead the practice's growth. He acts for corporate clients that include US public transport company Amtran and online auction site priceline.com.
A big part of his practice is representing underwriters on both debt and equity capital markets work, and he acts as outside corporate counsel to Lazard.