Allen and Goetz to launch UK base for Boston’s Ropes & Gray

Allen and Goetz had been linked to a number of firms, including Greenberg Traurig Maher, since their August departure from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where they had been for just over a year (3 August 2009).

The pair will build a City finance practice for the Boston-headquartered firm, which has been looking at a London launch for the past decade.

Ropes private equity partner David Chapin said: “We’ve been exploring the idea of a London office for ten years, but haven’t found the right opportunity until now.

“In the past we haven’t been able to advise on deals for our longstanding clients because we haven’t had the right international capabilities.”

The firm’s traditional expertise are in private equity, investment management and finance and it counts private equity houses TPG and Bain Capital among its longstanding clients.

Allen and Goetz will capitalise on Ropes’s longstanding relationships by advising the firm’s private equity clients on their debt positions.

Allen said: “This and our relationships with underwriters creates a real opportunity for us.”

Allen added that Ropes aims to build a high-yield practice in London to take advantage of the resurgent European high-yield bond market.

London will be the US firm’s third office outside the US. The firm, which has offices in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco, also has bases in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

For Allen and Goetz, who joined Freshfields from White & Case, the move to Ropes is an opportunity build a practice from scratch. At White & Case they were instrumental in building a London banking and finance practice that consolidated the US firm’s relationship with key financial institution client Deutsche Bank.

Ropes corporate partner Newcomb Stillwell said: “They have a lot of experience with start-ups and this is what attracted us to them.

“We’ve put together a five-year plan for London, but we’re realistic and realise that we’ll need to be flexible about how we develop.

“If they say we need to head in a certain direction we’ll certainly respond to that.”

Ropes does not have a formal network of international referral firms, but has developed strong ties with several UK firms including Ashurst, Herbert Smith, Macfarlanes and SJ Berwin.

Stillwell said: “We hope to continue to work with these. We have a real focus with our new venture. There’ll continue to be many opportunities for us to work with those firms we have close ties with.”