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Latham & Watkins' London office is launching a Spanish practice with a head of legal from Spanish bank Banco Santander Central.
Juan Manuel De Remedios, Santander's head of legal for Latin America, is joining the firm as counsel to target Spanish work for some of the firm's biggest investment banking clients. The firm has strong Italian and Scandinavian practices which are run out of London and which focus on advising the banks on US law in those jurisdictions.
De Remedios will focus on building a US law practice, as the firm has no plans to start doing local Spanish law at the moment. One of the clients he will target is Merrill Lynch, for which the firm already does a lot of work, particularly for its Italian and Scandinavian desks.
Latham London managing partner Joe Blum says: "Juan Manuel is somebody that [London partner] Michael Immordino has known for many years; they both worked in New York together. There's certainly opportunities in Spain for the kind of practice that we have in Italy now, which is a US practice, particularly in the capital markets and M&A areas."
He says De Remedios will also help the firm build on its already strong Latin American practice, which is currently run out of New York and focuses on project finance work.
Blum says: "We do have some Spanish clients already, and we have a strong Latin American practice. Juan Manuel was head of the Latin American desk in the legal department at Santander, so he can help us develop not only the Spanish practice, but also the capital markets side of our Latin American practice."
In his role at Santander, De Remedios supervised the major corporate transactions of the 14 Latin American commercial banks controlled by the bank, including M&A, tender offers, flotations and securitisations. Before that he was senior vice-president for the legal department at Santander Investment in Madrid.
Latham's Italian practice in London now boasts a team of around 14 lawyers, which is similar to what Blum predicts for the Spanish group. Latham also has a one-lawyer representative office in Rome handling only US work, which could ultimately happen in Spain, depending on how the practice grows.